Learning to Draw? Here’s Where to Start

I recently got this super nice comment from Joan K. on my Intro to Landscape Perspectives class: 

“Thank you Ashley. This was the best art lesson I have ever had. I felt like I was in art school rather than simply watching someone paint and hope it rubs off on me. I hope you will consider doing more lessons in this format.”

Joan’s comment reminded me of a survey we did last year, where the majority of you said you needed more help with drawing.

While resources like The Line Library™ are amazing when you need some inspiration or you just want to practice painting techniques and color application… 

… learning to draw from scratch is an extremely valuable skill!

And while most drawing classes or guides will start you out by drawing still life (fruit, bowls, etc.), I personally think that learning to draw buildings and other architectural elements is actually easier to start with. Here’s why:

Buildings and architecture have straight edges, for the most part. There’s a lot of symmetry and a lot of parallel lines. It’s easy to create “guidelines” to help you get all the proportions right.

Have you ever tried to draw something round, like a wine glass, and had it turn out super wonky? That’s because round objects are really hard to draw realistically!

I think it’s much easier to learn drawing techniques and perspective with “straighter” objects and elements like houses or barns, because there are consistent steps to follow no matter what you’re drawing. 

(And actually, some of those steps are covered in Intro to Landscape Perspectives, like establishing your vanishing points and your horizon line.)

Instead of “drawing” something from scratch, you’re “constructing a drawing” with lines and blocks, then carving things out like a sculptor would with marble. (And if you think you can’t draw a straight line, it’s perfectly fine to use a ruler or straight edge!)

After you learn these “blocking” techniques with architectural objects, it’s much easier to apply them to rounded or organically-shaped objects, like still life and botanicals.

And finally, I think “subjects with eyes,” as I like to categorize people and animals, should come last when you’re learning to draw because getting the proportion just a TINY bit wrong on a face can really make things feel off.

I’m curious to hear what you think! Have I changed your mind about what’s easier or harder to draw? Have you ever thought that landscapes and buildings were actually the more challenging subjects? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. interesting but very different way of thinking, i always thought buildings were the most difficult (and i find other things already so difficult to draw, i have to think about that because its such a new way of thinking (and i’m thinking like that for a long time, being 71) greetings out of amsterdam, ria

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