Before-and-After: How Did They Learn to Draw So Fast?

To learn to draw in my course, these four beginner students first did three drawings prior to any instruction.  Their self-portraits are below.   Click on the links below the pictures to check out their progress over the five days - I assure you that the results are authentic.

You can look at many other student drawings by going to the gallery of other student pencil drawings:

Mary's Before-and-After Drawings

In the first pencil drawings by Mary, you can see she had once taken a drawing course, but she still had trouble with a tendency to use symbols rather than drawing what she actually saw...

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Jennifer's Before-and-After Drawings

The pencil drawings by Jennifer are especially interesting. Like many people, as a child she loved drawing. Then, as she grew into adolescence she found it more and more difficult...

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Geraldine's Before-and-After Drawings

In the pencil drawings by Geraldine, it can be seen that she too had a strong tendency to draw by using symbols, rather than drawing what she actually saw. In coming to my course she...

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Nathalie's Before-and-After Drawings

In the pencil drawings by Nathalie, it can be seen that she has already had some drawing instruction. She came out of frustration at not being able to make significant progress after...

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These are not just little tips and techniques, but a full course of learning how to see, think, and draw like an artist.

People who see my students' before and after drawings are usually astounded.  Those who don't know me personally sometimes even suspect there is some sort of scam going on - how could anyone be so good at drawing so fast?

My method is a combination of three things:  what scientists understand today about how our minds work; what we have come to know are the building blocks to learning how to draw; and tools that artists used in the past to learn to draw but that have been mostly forgotten today.

In addition, there are certain tactics that I encourage in my students that contribute greatly to producing pencil drawings like the ones on this page.

1.  Turn off that critical voice in your head.  You will make it a lot harder for yourself if you listen to it.  Rather, get into the pleasure of making marks on paper - when your drawing is done, you will realize the critical voice has fallen silent!

2.  Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. You will necessarily make drawings that are not as wonderful as you would like them to be. I still do. See each drawing as a stepping-stone to where you want to be, bringing you ever closer to your destination.

3.  Stay hungry to learn.  It's the hope and desire to learn to draw that drives progress despite discouraging moments.  You'll get there if you keep that excitement alive - and you'll have more fun on the trip.

4.  Stick with it when the discouraging moments happen.  And they will.  Wanting something a lot makes setbacks seem bigger.  Just keep putting one foot in front of another, in the right direction, and sooner or later you will have to reach Cincinnati.

5.  Work, work and then...practice. Mind, there is no magic going on here though.  Both the students and I work very hard to achieve these results, and if you are thinking about taking a course with me, be prepared for the same kind of very hard work. Then be prepared to keep practicing hard to keep those skills up and to progress. 

On the other hand, if you put in the effort, you will gain not only the ability to draw, but the ability to see like an artist; I like to tell people that while I may not get them drawing exactly like Leonardo da Vinci, I can get them feeling something of what he did when he drew.

Go from "How Students Learn to Draw" to "Pencil Drawings by Mary - Before and After"

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