Finding your way as an Intermediate artist

At this point, you have been drawing for a while and you have some skills in place already. However, you might feel stuck or wonder how to get to the next level.
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Common pitfalls for the intermediate artist

Here are some of the things you might be experiencing:

You can see more clearly all the things you could do better, but aren’t sure how to get those skills

You are in a rut doing the same type of practice and your skills have plateaued

You can draw reasonably well, but it seems like a huge leap to get to the expert level of your favorite artists.

If you’re experiencing any of these, don’t worry. A sequence of exercises will take you from these experiences to big breakthroughs in your artwork.

A Path Forward

If you’re experiencing these things, let me lay out a path forward for you:

Be patient with yourself. Our eyes always advance more quickly than our drawing skills, so we can see what is wrong before we can improve it.

Assess your skillset to identify areas that need work most

Start to build the skills you need systematically through exercises (more on that below)

When your mind starts making up reasons to avoid those exercises you don’t want to do, politely ignore it and do those exercises!

Consistent, smart practice is the key to getting to the next level.

Assessing your skills

Below are the fundamental skills you need to work on. Read the entire list and then ask yourself which of these you are weakest at. This is the area to go and do exercises on next.

Basic observational skills

  – Drawing the abstract shapes created by the figure

  – Measuring distances and angles

Basic anatomy

  – Major landmarks of the torso (Fresh Eyes challenge)

  – The basic forms of the ribcage, pelvis and head  (put together through the Fresh Eyes challenge)

  – Major muscle groups (see our anatomy articles here)

Simplifying the forms of the figure (check out this tutorial then do the Fresh Eyes challenge)

 Simplifying values (check out this tutorial)

Gesture (go to our gesture series)

Weight and balance


So at this point you’ve identified the next skill area to work on. It’s time to make a plan!

As you looked over the list above, which skill areas stood out to you as areas you need to work on? If you’re not sure which skill you should work on, try our self-assessment guide. You’ll go through a series of simple questions to determine which skills you have and which to work on next.

You can then make a monthly plan for building those next skills you need. This article provides an effective way to make that plan.

Remember that working on new skills can feel difficult. Sometimes you feel you are going backwards even though your skills are progressing. (To learn more about the stages of learning each skill, check out this article).

(If you feel pretty confident about all of the skills above, then I’d suggest looking Into shape design, more anatomy and line quality. We have a lesson line quality in our community here.)


If you would like monthly guidance from me and to learn together with a group of equally passionate life drawing students, consider our Life Drawing Study Group. We pick a topic each month to work on and we focus on exercises to build that skill. The skills always relate gesture, form, anatomy and values.