Drawing: Mini-Lessons to Build Skills and Confidence.

I love drawing!  It is an invaluable skill that is used in so many professions, not just art. Learning how to draw is not that difficult. I promise everyone can draw.  Not all of us are cut out to draw an intricate design, but with some practice I know we can move beyond stick figures. (Not that there is anything wrong with stick figures!)  By learning some simple techniques, you can increase your skills much like learning a new language. Moreover, if you know the Elements and Principals of Art, it’s like the foundation for all creative mediums.  Guess what?  I’m going to show you all about it.


The cool thing is, is that subconsciously we already know about these elements and principals.  How?  Look around and really SEE everything.  You notice when there is a tall glass sitting next to a short one (proportion).  How about if there is a group of people at a bus stop and only one of them is wearing bright yellow? (emphasis).  When you watch the sunset over the horizon you can see the value, the dark sky fading as the bright sun sleeps for the night.  Gingham, polka-dots, and stripes are examples different types of pattern.  As I go over these little drawing exercises, I will point out which element or principle we are working.  Now we can start building on our foundation.  We’ll start with VALUE.  Light to Dark, Dark to Light.

“Not knowing the language of art is like trying to play Pictionary without a pencil” ~Andrea O’Dette


  • A pencil.  If you have an H, 3B, 2H that would be great. I will show you the differences between the hardness and softness of pencil lead.
  • Eraser. Try different types, kneaded, pink, white…
  • Paper. Doesn’t matter, it’s practice.

That’s it! A pencil, paper, and an eraser are all that is needed to start learning to draw.  You ready?!

Let’s draw a rectangle.  Divide this rectangle into five boxes.  The left box is WHITE, the right box is BLACK, and the center box is GRAY. 20180306_1951551300861505.jpg

Draw what the value of the light box. Barley touch the pencil to the paper and fill in the box.  Now fill the dark box. You don’t need to use a ton of pressure on the pencil to achieve a dark value. Instead, move the pencil back and forth many times and soon the area will be dark.  The center box will be gray or the mid-tone.  This box’s value needs to be an in-between value of the light and dark box.  Now we need to find the value of box 2 and 4.  To find those values, let’s look at box 1 and 3.  Shade in the value. All that’s left is box 4.  We’ll shade in this box by finding an in-between value based on box 3 and 5.  This is a great little exercise that will help in training the eye to notice subtleties of value.  Plus, when working with different types of pencils you can see how they work and how they respond.  If you would like a challenge, make more boxes and continue to do the in-between method so that the value has a smooth transition from light to dark.

Now that we have completed that exercise, let’s put our new skill to work.  20180307_0839031680123033.jpgDraw a cube.  Choose where you would like the light source to be – top, side or front and put a little indicator to remind you where the source is coming from.  I used a tiny sun, but light bulbs are also good.  This will indicate which side will be light, medium, and dark.  Shade in accordingly.  Eureka! Not bad.  I told you, you can do it. The bonus challenge, draw cubes facing different directions and change where the light source is coming.  Using value defines the objects in your composition.

WOW! You did it!  You are on your way to unlocking the mysteries of drawing!  In the next post, we will talk about line, texture, emphasis, and movement.  Like I said, we all see the elements and principals of art used every day, we just don’t notice it.  Try to observe your environment and see if you can identify the elements and principals of art.  I’d bet you’d be surprised at what we take for granted.

Until next time…

Artfully yours,




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