Student blog 6: failing - learning - improving

Since we started, I’ve been paying much more attention to my own life drawing technique and process with which I’m learning. This has made me realise just how important technical skills are. The techniques themselves may seem like boring details sometimes, but they help you to get your vision onto the page, and there’s nothing boring about that.

My drawings still aren’t close to the level of artists like the people that are featured in the Love Drawing podcasts or Mayko who provides the technical information for this site – but the point is that I can see an upward trend, and with that trend comes all sorts of hope and possibility.

Charcoal woman standing

10 minute pose, charcoal on a green wash

The thing that’s had the biggest impact is definitely changing the materials I’m using and focusing on drawing with my whole arm. I always simply thought that I had a ‘messy’ style, which I didn’t like much but was resigned to. Now though I’m very slowly learning to move away from that style, and see that by using the tips outlined in this article, my drawings have become much cleaner.

Figure drawing

15 minute pose, charcoal on green wash

Secondly, I’m actively experimenting with different methods. Experimentation seems to be the secret to improvement. It’s becoming clear that while there’s a wide variety of valuable methods and approaches that you can employ with life drawing, you have to find your own way with them.

It’s not easy – ‘trial and error’ means you’ll probably have a lot of error. Knowing that errors are part of positive change though is reassuring. All those drawings that come out wonky and funny looking stop being frustrating and start being a positive thing.

Understanding this and actively making an effort to change what I’m doing in order to progress, rather than just practising blindly, seems to be accelerating the improvements.

figure drawing

2 minute poses,charcoal on a green wash

The best part of this is that the process of improving, and seeing the changes in the drawings, is really motivating. Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut, feeling like the pictures are always going to be unsatisfactory and unlike what you see in your mind. Those ruts don’t last, but when you’re in the middle of one they feel like they’ll never end! The real danger during those times is that you may lose motivation and stop practising.

So, what I’ll try to remember  is that when those ruts come along, it’ll be easy to break out of them – simply try something new. It’ll probably go wrong at first, but that’s all good.

figure drawing charcoal

15-20 minute poses

To build a solid foundation of life drawing skills, have a look at our new online course Draw Life Beautifully: The Fundamentals of Life Drawing Every Student Should Know

Avoid the big mistake that led to all my other mistakes

Get the free guide - 'Life Drawing Success'

You may also like