I used to think that art required natural talent. Then I learned to draw hobby

ANDA few years ago I finally started taking painting seriously. I went to my backpack and bought a can of colored pencils. I loved it instantly. I spent the rest of the trip sitting in the gutters and writing about awkward buildings; in pubs, drawing underformed fellow shoppers.

Early self-portrait

Many who see me scribble say they are afraid to do the same. They say they have no talent for drawing. But me too. And I really enjoy learning how to do it.

When I was a child, my grandmother took me to visit Senaka Senanayake, a famous Sri Lankan artist. I looked at the walls of his home in downtown Colombo, plastered with his colorful drawings and paintings. Many of them were in the decade when Senaka was a child prodigy.

For years, I believed that all artists are like that – imbued with some kind of gift, the rest of us were denied. But I realized that while I may never be Senaka, I can always get closer.

An early sketch of the Museum of Art History in Vienna
An early sketch of the Museum of Art History in Vienna

My early drawings were flat objects on the page with little internal connection or connection. They were also a mixture of what I was trying to draw and my preconceived notions. The tree became a strange mixture of the tree in front of me and any other tree I had ever seen.

It’s easy to get discouraged when that’s all you’re pumping out.

But drawing is not purely mechanical. It’s also about process and approach. It means you can learn – you can teach yourself – to become better. My terrible drawings suffered and suffer from a lack of understanding of the subject and a tendency to rush. There are probably a bunch of other issues that I don’t know how to look for yet.

With practice, I’ve learned to force myself to slow down (although still much less than I should), observe and measure. To “construct” a picture, and not just let it fly.

When I took my notebook on vacation two years later, I learned more about perspective. I still used colored pencils and the fine details are not visible, but I appreciate these drawings much more.

Here is a very bad view of Angkor Thom in Cambodia. I still remember sitting on a rock and painting it.

A picture of Angkor Thom in Cambodia
Angkor Thom in Cambodia

I hate how obsessed the online art world is with brands and tools, but you really need to choose the right tool for what you’re trying to achieve. More recently, I’ve moved on to watercolor and fineliner. Smaller lines allow you to cover more details than thick pencils. The color brings the image to life in a way that my old doodles lacked.

A recent sketch on a flyliner at the Rocks in Sydney
A recent sketch at the Rocks in Sydney

You can see some of this in a sketch from a recent walk around the Rocks in Sydney. The angle is shaky, but the details of the building come through and I’m starting to get some depth.

Watercolor still life of a vase with pink and purple flowers
A recent attempt at a still life

Practice is still the hardest part of learning to draw (or learning anything). Not only is it hard to find motivation, but also guidance on how to practice effectively. It probably doesn’t help that I’m constantly switching media.

Faces are my favorite writing assignment. Before, my portraits looked like aliens – short foreheads, giant eyes, slanted ears. Just look at this picture of my now wife when we were dating a few years ago.

An early drawing of Josh's (now) wife
An early drawing of Josh’s (now) wife

I worked a lot on my portraits. I borrowed every book in my library and watched countless hours of YouTube tutorials. I have a better understanding of the theory behind creating value and form in images. Now it’s mostly just practice.

Progress is slow, but here’s another attempt after about two years. I’m still re-proportioning the face, but it’s a bit closer and looks more three-dimensional than the old drawings.

A more recent attempt to learn about portraiture with more advanced features than the previous painting
Study of face planes

Here is a recent attempt. It still doesn’t look much like her, but at least now the facial recognition system on my camera is starting to think there’s someone there.

A recent painting of my wife
A recent painting of my wife

I pulled out my sketchbook to pass the time at a recent family dinner. I was immediately mobbed by tiny cousins ​​asking to draw them. I did try, but none were the same and I was quickly abandoned.

I still have a long way to go. But I made progress and enjoyed the journey. Yes, I still make mistakes all the time, but they’re not the ones I used to make.

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