If I asked you if you knew what a bicycle looked like, you would most surely say, "YES!", right? OK smart guy, prove it. Draw a bicycle in the box below. Don't cheat and look at a bicycle, draw it from memory.
Well, how does it look? Can you ride this bicycle? Probably not. If you are like most people, you look but don't see. It is very important to carefully observe the subject of your drawing.
Below you will find 6 drawings. The artist of each drawing was asked to draw a picture of Brad Pitt from memory.
Do any of these look like Brad Pitt? Would you cast any of these actors in your next big budget movie? Of course not, they are hideous monsters.
Keep this in mind when you want to draw. Do not assume you know what something looks like even if it is a simple object like a ball or tree. Take the time to carefully observe your subject or else you might end up with a picture of an ugly Brad Pitt impersonator sitting on top of a bike that won't go anywhere.
Most people think that drawing is about learning to use your hand. These people are all wrong. Drawing is about learning to use your eyes to properly identify what you are drawing. Let’s try a simple identification test to see just how well you can use your eyes to identify objects.
As people age, their physical appearance changes. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it requires that the artist pay very close attention to these details so they can accurately capture a subject's true likeness. Let us take a look at former Yankees slugger, Mickey Mantle.
When Mantle entered the league in 1951, he had the wholesome good looks of a midwestern farm boy. When he retired from baseball in 1969, his face showed the wear of a man that enjoyed drinking and womanizing almost as much as he enjoyed hitting tape measure home runs for adoring Yankees fans. Note the additional wrinkles that were no doubt caused by many days spent in the sun fielding pop flies.
It is often easier to draw your subject by breaking it down into simple shapes. The ice cream cone might seem difficult to draw, but it is basically just a few circles and a triangle, shapes so easy that even a baby could draw it.
Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner might seem impossible to draw, but if you start by isolating the basic shapes, you can draw a picture so life-like that his ancestors might think that he rose from the grave and is coming up to bat.
Flowers are always popular subjects for artists. They are beautiful. Everyone loves them. But just how does one draw a flower? What type of line should be used to depict the flower that you want to draw, and how does that line affect the way we interpret the drawing?
Let's look at 5 different flowers and see how we can change the meaning of the drawing by changing the type of line we use to make the drawing.
Every great artist knows that composition matters. Where you decide to place your objects can be the difference between a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre or a thrift store reject. When multiple objects are placed together in a composition, it is important to have a proper balance between them so that the illusion of three dimensional space is maintained.
All illustrations by Mark Mulroney
Once you have mastered the simple lessons above you will be ready to tackle more complex and challenging tasks. Learning to draw requires diligence, tenacity, and long hours of back-breaking labor. Once you have mastered the craft of mimicking real life objects, you will be rewarded with applause and riches well beyond anything you can achieve in almost any other profession.
Your Humble Servant,
Mark Mulroney is an artist who resides in Syracuse, New York. He's taught painting at blah blah blah. You can find his work at www.markmulroney.com