Art Myths: If You Can’t Draw, You Can’t Paint

 Art Myths: If You Can’t Draw, You Can’t PaintNever let the belief that you can’t draw stop you from learning to paint. A painting is not a drawing waiting to be coloured in and, conversely, a drawing isn’t an artwork waiting for paint to be added to it.

While traditionally an artist studied drawing for several years before starting with paint, if you want to get straight into paint, then do. You can always acquire drawing skills at a later stage; in the meantime you won’t have wasted time sitting around wishing you were painting (see: Never Moving Beyond Liking the Idea of Being Creative).

I strongly believe that if you don’t like or are afraid of drawing, for whatever reason, then forget about drawing and jump straight into painting. Ultimately, it’s that you’re doing it that’s important, not the road you take to get there.

Painting involves its own set of skills, which complement but are different to those for drawing. Learning to use tone, perspective,the illusion of depth, etc. can be done while learning to paint. The advantage of doing so while learning to draw is that you don’t have the distraction of colour and pencil is easier to ‘undo’ to fix errors. But if you don’t like graphite or charcoal, don’t let this stop you. Get stuck straight into the wet, colourful stuff! Even if you were an expert at drawing, you’d need to learn how to manipulate paint.

Drawing is a different way of creating art. Having drawing skills will definitely help with your painting, but if you hate pencils and charcoal, this doesn’t mean you can’t learn to paint. Drawing is not merely an initial step in making a painting. You don’t need to do a detailed drawing before you start to paint; while many artists do, many others don’t. I typically do a minimalist drawing of my intended composition before starting to paint (take a look at this step-by-step video demo to see an example).

There is no rule that says you must draw before you paint if you don’t want to and no approval committee checking your process. Never let a belief that you can’t draw a stick figure or even a straight line stop you from discovering the enjoyment that painting can bring. Besides, straight lines are easy…use a ruler!

Painting embraces all the 10 functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.
— Leonardo da Vinci

One Reply to “Art Myths: If You Can’t Draw, You Can’t Paint”

  1. I do not consider myself an artist, but I enjoy putting colorful oil paint on canvas. Haven’t sold anything, having fun.

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