Hey. I was an art student in high school and after I graduated I never draw again. I was never as good as I wanted and in the end I gave up. I really want to start again but I just don't know where to start. I cant draw from my imagination and never really find a good way to develop that. If you can give me some tips that'll be awesome like how did you manage to not give up when you draw bad etc. thanks! x
Hey! So this is a great question. And truly, I think you’ll find very quickly that almost every artist has wanted to give it all up at some point. We are constantly striving to be just that much better, and sometimes it just feels like you’re never gonna get there. I totally understand that. So here are some things I try to keep in mind when I’m feeling stuck and unoriginal.
- Be careful not to compare your work to other artist’s work! Your mind is unique, and therefore, with time, your style will be also. Studying particular artists, however, and imitating qualities of their work, like color choices and line weight, etc…are good ideas. Try to analyze what you like about a certain piece, and why you like it! Then practice that by making a piece or sketch that uses that quality.
- Don’t feel like everything you make has to be a finished, polished production. This is how I used to work. I would never start anything, because I wanted it to be great, and I would try and plan every little detail. Basically, I didn’t want to bother making something if I didn’t know it would be perfect. Since then, I’ve loosened up! I told myself if an idea pops in my head, I should doodle it in my sketch book. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, or super conceptual, it can be as silly as a cat eating spaghetti. Don’t worry if it’s no good, you don’t have to show anyone. It’s for you.
- Art is for you. So yeah, in my personal work, if I want to draw fish, and only fish, that is up to me. Try to draw enough that you start seeing themes in your work, and follow those themes!! What I’ve found is that eventually, those themes can be honed down into actual pieces, and because you did so many studies, you have something to pull from. If something resonates with you in your own work, chances are, it will resonate with someone else out there. And that’s awesome.
- Keep an idea log! No idea is dumb. I just looked at the most recent thing I jotted down. “Wooden King Frog surveys termite kingdom”. I literally thought that after seeing a stick this morning. I might never draw that. Although I kinda want to. Sometimes I also just brainstorm off of a general theme. Example: School assignment prompt had “shoes” as a possible theme.
Shoes > Famous Shoes > Wizard of Oz > Ruby Slippers > Red Shoes > Pope Shoes > Pope > Anna Wintour > Pope of Fashion
My slightly eccentric train of thought was influenced by current events involving the election of the new pope, and a fashion documentary that I had just watched where somebody commented that Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour was like the ‘Pope of Fashion’. These were just things floating around in my brain and you just gotta write them down until something clicks for you.
SO WHERE TO START??? This is a tough one. Especially when your mind’s eye has high expectations that maybe your technical skill hasn’t caught up to yet. It’s frustrating. And drawing from imagination can seem really daunting. I think something people don’t realize, is that when you’re drawing from ‘imagination’, you can still use references. Especially for things like human/animal anatomy and poses/expressions. The imaginative part comes in with your original composition, back story, color scheme, character design, content and themes…..everything. But technical things like perspective, and anatomy, don’t have to magically spring from your own mind. Eventually, by studying those things, you do get better, and it gets easier and easier to draw convincingly without references. I’m still getting there, in fact. But if you draw frogs all the time, chances are, you start remembering how they are structured, and you won’t need as much help.
Something that many people have told me helped them get re/started in their art journey, (but unfortunately I have never read) is a book called, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. That might be a good starting point!
The only other suggestion I have is to look at art. A lot of art. Tons of it. Libraries have so many books, and I surf tags on tumblr all the time. BUT! Look at it, not to compare, but to inspire. See what matters to other people. Look at all the awesome quirkiness that the human race can produce. Drool over the impossibly great hyper-realists.
You do you!
Nobody else can.