Learning to Draw Before Learning to Paint
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Thread: Learning to Draw Before Learning to Paint

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    Learning to Draw Before Learning to Paint

    I'm learning the fundamentals of drawing. I feel there is still more to learn such as rendering form and composition. I am eager to try oil painting. I have some supplies and a book for beginners that walks you through different projects (Oil Painting For Dummies) starting off with the basics (i.e. black and white and simple objects) working its way into more complex subjects with a limited palette. I really want to have the fundamentals down before I try it though. On the other hand I'm not sure how to determine at what point that is.

    Unfortunately there is no exam on can take to give a quantitative result telling them if they know the fundamentals. So how does one know when they are ready to start learning to paint? Do you just know? Or just do it regardless because of your desire to try it? If you are in an art school you are told when you will start. I’m not in school so the decision is mine to make.

    I just don't want to waste valuable time up learning to paint if I'm just going to spin my wheels and struggle because I didn't put the time in learning to draw. I'm doing this for fun but take it seriously. There is no rush to learn in order to get a job in the field or anything like that. I'm enjoying the process of learning drawing but would like to explore oil painting some day.

    Anyone with experience in this area please feel free to comment. My sketchbook has pretty much everything I've done up to this point. I welcome honest feedback and would like suggestions on what to do to improve my skills in the fundamentals area.

    My Sketchbook

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -- Confucius
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    I suggest you check out practice and science of drawing by Harold Speed. In his opinion new students should practice mass drawing and line drawing simultaneously until they become overall proficient in drawing. In other words trying to figure out same simple objects in black and white paint and pencil would probably be good for your progress.

    I'm not one to speak really, I just enjoy mass drawing so much more I always neglect the line drawing side of things. Besides, if you're that eager to try the paints, why not indulge yourself at least partly just to keep the learning process fun?

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    I'd say that if you can sketch something from life without making glaring errors in proportions and perspective, you're reasonably ready to start value studies.

    If the paint itself feels intimidating, just practice your values by making tonal drawings in pencil or charcoal - or ink wash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suncut View Post
    practice and science of drawing by Harold Speed.
    A free copy of which can be had here.
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14264

    I'm personally much more comfortable working in tonal mediums and so a tad biased but I'd say if you want to try painting go for it.

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    I think it's never too early to start painting, but remember that starting to paint doesn't mean you're stopping drawing. For one, even if you start painting, you should keep drawing with pencil or charcoal or whatever, because drawing is an integral part of doing any picture. Second, even if you exclusively do your artwork holding a brush loaded with paint, you're still technically drawing. Painting is drawing, and especially in the beginning phases of the work, but really, all the time, you still need to think in the same terms as you do when drawing. Values, planes, edges, what form overlaps what etc etc.
    If you're doing a still life or cast painting in black and white, you're still practicing drawing. The thing is though, that oil paint is pretty difficult to handle in the beginning, and there's all these things like drying time, mediums, cleaning process, fat over lean and just how the medium feels that makes the whole thing much more frustrating. That's why it's a good idea to focus on drawing with a dry medium like pencil or charcoal in the beginning, because odds are you've been drawing (and writing) since you were a kid, so the pencil as a tool, and how it handles isn't something new to you. And when you've mastered the basics of drawing, then you won't have to worry about those things as much and can focus on mastering the medium of oils instead.
    So I would suggest that you focus your studies on drawing with pencil and/or charcoal, but I can't see anything dangerous in painting some stuff too to get a head start at familiarizing yourself with the medium. I know that even after I decided I really wanted to learn oil painting, I still kept going back to more secure options when asked to paint something or participating in a challenge (something like ink drawing with flat water colour washes) because I felt I wasn't ready to try my hand at a full blown oil painting. Now I know that the only way to go forward is to fail spectacularly a few times.
    But yes, drawing is the base of any good painting, so you really need to focus on drawing, be it with pencils or oil paints.

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    In the beginning it's all about understanding form and shape (well, at least I think so) and you need to get that grasp. How you do it is up to you. Sure, there are easyer and cheaper ways of learning this than oil paint. But do whatever floats your boat.


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    I just wanted to say that learning painting before learning to draw is totally fine by me.

    "I've got ham, but I'm not a hamster"

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    i think you learn the fastest when you learn what you like a lot. So if you feel like painting now, go painting, and maybe at a certain point you think 'hey i think i can't draw well enough to make a better painting, so you start focussing on drawing again. Personally i feel like i get better at drawing when ive painted a lot as well as i get better at painting while drawing.
    In the end it is both about observation...

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    Well I am at school and they start us off drawing and painting at the same time... and we continue to do both. Simultaneously. So go for it.

    “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” - Stephen King


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    if you don't understand the fundamentals with a pencil then you won't with a brush. Painting will be just a more expensive learning curve.

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    It might be a quicker one though.

    I've found myself rendering out , say, black hair or a black dress with a pencil and thinking "this would be two minutes work in charcoal or about 6 swipes of a brush in paint, why am I doing this in pencil again...?".
    Tonal mediums just make more sense in my brain.

    Totally agreed on the fundamentals bit though.

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    Thumbs up

    "Drawing is seven eighths of what makes up painting." - Ingres

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    The military strategist Karl Von Clausewitz is famous for saying:


    "War is the continuation of policy by other means."

    I say to you:

    Painting is the continuation of drawing by other means!

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