It Is Never a Matter of Bad Ideas

I don’t think the failure or success of a drawing has to do with the drawing ideas that the artist starts with. He or she could choose pretty much anything and make a go of it, don’t you think? It also doesn’t depend on whether the artist chooses to create easy drawings or ones that are more demanding. No–foremost, the success of a drawing lies in how it is created. This could be something unusual in the contour drawing, for example, or in how the artist executes the figure. These are the things that can lead to a work you are proud of.

Umbrage by Amy Cutler, 2001, gouache on paper, 29 x 41 1/2. Cutler is an artist who works heavily in her sketchbooks, where doodled ideas and concepts often turn out to be the seeds of ideas that lead to full-scale gouache drawings.
Umbrage by Amy Cutler, 2001, gouache on paper, 29 x 41 1/2. Cutler is an artist who
works heavily in her sketchbooks, where doodled ideas and concepts often turn out to
be the seeds of ideas that lead to full-scale gouache drawings.

So when you are sitting down with your sketchbook, don’t waste a lot of time mentally toiling over what to draw, selecting and discarding ideas because they “aren’t quite right.” I would argue that they are all quite right–so just go with what pops into your head and figure out how to pull something special out of the way you draw it.

Saddlebacked by Amy Cutler, 2002, gouache on paper, 30 x 22 3/4.
Saddlebacked by Amy Cutler, 2002, gouache on paper, 30 x 22 3/4.

Even beginner drawings like practicing how to draw a cube or a sphere can become exercises in ingenuity if you let them. All you have to do is not get caught up in whether what you are doing is a good idea. Instead, focus on how to make what you are doing great. It’s just a slight change in thinking, yet it has done wonders for me. I’ve stopped wasting time being self-critical and now spend more time working on drawings, which is what I want most anyway. I hope it works the same for you!

If you are searching for art-resource guides that can help you immediately improve your beginner drawings into works that are more advanced, consider Ann Kullberg’s instructional guides in colored pencil. You’ll get tips on color, composition, and more. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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