A Beginners Guide To Drawing And Painting

A Beginners Guide To Drawing And Painting

Here is how you can draw your way into the world of art

Aditya ShirkeUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 08:35 PM IST
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Pic: Freepik

As an artist with two decades of experience, I have traversed the disciplines of drawing, painting and conceptual art. In this journey, I’ve come to appreciate the work of masters, drawn inspiration from illustrators and uncovered the profound joy that art can bring to one’s life. Any form that excites you should be taken up and learnt with enthusiasm.

There are good starting points and drawing and painting what you see around you is a great start. So, I offer insights into materials and techniques to make the ride smooth.

Materials and tools

Pencils: Pencils serve as the initial and direct conduit between the mind’s eye and the blank page. For beginners, a set of graphite pencils ranging from 2H to 6B can provide versatility in shading and line work. Harder pencils (2H-2B) offer precision for fine details they are also lighter), while softer ones (4B-6B) allow for rich, expressive strokes (darker). Mark making is a very instinctive process and we do since childhood relive the freedom of scribbling. (I leave out powder shading and charcoal shading as classes for these are in every neighbourhood).

Paper: The choice of paper can greatly influence the outcome of your artwork. Opt for acid-free, heavyweight paper to prevent yellowing and buckling over time. Smooth papers work well for intricate details, while textured surfaces lend depth and character to your sketches and paintings. Watercolour has a very distinct paper so make sure you use a watercolour paper of good thickness. Cotton based paper is good for watercolour (measured in gsm).

Colours: The world of colours beckons with its myriad possibilities. Watercolours offer transparency and fluidity, perfect for delicate washes and vibrant hues, and quick and immediate effects and results. also cleaning up is easier. Acrylics, with their fast-drying nature, allow for layering and texture, while oils boast richness and blendability, inviting exploration and experimentation.

Canvas: Canvas provides a sturdy foundation for acrylics and oils. Stretched canvas offers a ready-to-use surface, while canvas boards and panels offer convenience and portability. Experiment with different textures and sizes to find what resonates with your style and vision.

Drawing is the cornerstone of visual art, offering a gateway to observation and interpretation. Start with simple exercises — contour drawing, gesture sketches, still lifes — to hone your observation skills and understanding of form. Move on to value-based drawings. Embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth, and allow yourself the freedom to explore and experiment.

Painting is a gateway to express, communicate and immerse oneself in the joy of the process. Begin with simple compositions and limited colour palettes, focusing on value and contrast to create depth and dimension. Explore different techniques, to discover what suits you best.

Drawing: Start with simple exercises to get comfortable with the tools of the trade. Practice drawing basic shapes, lines, and forms to develop your hand-eye coordination and observational skills. Try to move your hand through the shoulder instead of the wrist for more fluid and forceful lines. Experiment with different drawing mediums such as graphite pencils, charcoal, and ink to discover which medium resonates with you the most.

Study anatomy and perspective to understand the structure of objects and figures. Practice drawing from life and reference photos to capture the nuances of form, light, and shadow.

Painting: Each medium mentioned above offers unique properties and techniques that can be explored and mastered over time.

Start with a limited colour palette (three colours + black and white) to simplify the painting process and focus on mastering colour mixing and tonal values. Experiment with different painting surfaces to discover which surface suits your style and preferences. Water colour is great to use if you are travelling or painting outdoors or want quick results. Oils on the other hand offer more control and range but are time and labour intensive. You can use it when you have time on hand or space for its paraphernalia. Acrylics are a versatile medium and you just have to experiment with them, it has many possible methods to use.

Choose suitable subjects

Still life: Still life compositions offer a fantastic opportunity to practice observational skills and explore the interplay of light, shadow, and texture. Start with simple objects such as fruits, and household items, arranging them in interesting compositions to create dynamic visual narratives.

Landscapes: Landscapes provide endless inspiration with their diverse array of natural elements, including mountains, rivers, forests, and skies. Begin by sketching outdoor scenes from life or reference photos which don’t have complex drawing and perspective, focusing on capturing the mood, atmosphere, and sense of space. Once comfortable try cityscapes.

Portraits: Portraiture allows artists to explore the intricacies of the human form and expression. Start by drawing portraits from photographs and then from live models, paying close attention to proportions, features, and facial expressions.

Nature and wildlife: Nature and wildlife offer a wealth of inspiration with their beauty, diversity, and vitality. Venture outdoors to sketch landscapes, animals, and plant life, immersing in the sights, sounds, and rhythms of the natural world.

As you embark on your artistic journey, remember that every stroke, every mark is a testament to your creativity, passion, and perseverance. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the triumphs, and allow yourself the freedom to explore, discover, and grow as an artist. Art has given me entry into so many worlds that just would not have been possible otherwise. Who knows, we might meet down this road one day!

(Aditya Shirke is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice revolves around painting, idea and notions of duality. Masters from UK and served as a program head for the MFA at MIT Kothrud, Pune, he is interested and active in academia)

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