Choosing Your First Drawing

Choosing Your First Drawing

Choosing your first drawing can be difficult if you’re brand new to drawing or if you’re transitioning from tutorials. At first glance, the choices are endless and can be overwhelming.

Let me help you take that all important first step by sharing a few ways you can narrow your choices.

Choosing Your First Drawing

One disclaimer before I begin. It’s been so long since my first drawing that I don’t even remember what it was. But I have studied enough other subjects to know what it’s like moving from instructor-led exercises to “the real thing.”

For some reason, the idea that you’re making all the decisions suddenly seems frightening. The drawing process itself is the same as what you learned from teachers, but now it’s all up to you! Yikes!

It’s all about mindset. The first tip is to ignore the little voice telling you that you’re not ready to make all those decisions. That little voice might also be telling you that you need one more tutorial or one more class before you take the plunge.

If you really want to make your own artwork, you must tell that little voice to sit down and shut up!

If you’re like me, you’ll have to do that over and over again, but it’s worth the effort.

Now for the rest of my suggestions!

Choose a Subject You Like

This will be easy for many of you. Why? Because there’s some thing that you love so much, that you can’t get enough of it. For me, that was horses. From the time I decided I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to draw nothing but horses. So my first drawings were of horses.

This one is the oldest drawing I still have. I was seven when I drew this.

I don’t remember thinking much about what to draw back then. When I drew, a horse or other farm animal was usually the result. It was automatic.

You may be like that, too. If you are, then follow that leading. Just draw what you love to draw.

If you like drawing a lot of different things, you may have more difficulty deciding on a subject. But you still need to choose something that you enjoy enough to spend the time working on.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity comes in different forms. For artists with an interest in drawing animals, I usually recommend starting with head studies. Just draw the head of the dog, cat, horse or other animal first. When you get confident with that, you can then draw the bodies.

But simplicity might also mean how you render the subject. My oldest drawing (above) is fairly complex in that I drew two horses body and all and added harness. But it’s also simple in that it’s just a line drawing.

Even if your goal is full-color, full value drawings, line drawings or sketches is a good way to begin. You can get comfortable with your ability to draw that way and gradually work into drawing more complete artwork.

This is a much more recent sketch, but sketches like this are a good place for new artists to begin. You can learn a lot by practicing with one or two pencils.

Draw Small

The sketch above and the first drawing I showed you are both small—under 9×12 inches.

Drawing small is a good way to get started making your own art. For one thing, there’s less stress getting started when you start with a small piece of paper. Trust me! I know from personal experience!

Small drawings are more quickly finished, and I find it’s a lot easier to be courageous with a small drawing than a large one.

And when you’re choosing your first drawing, courage is a good thing!

Don’t Fret about Decision Making and Don’t Rush

A lot of readers ask about choosing the right colors. That’s one reason I suggest you begin creating your own work with just one or two colors. That eliminates the need to make color choices, and frees you up to enjoy drawing.

You can also learn a lot about drawing values if you’re not also trying make color choices. Once you get a good understanding of the importance of values, it’s much easier to make color choices.

Whatever you choose as your first drawing and whatever size you make it, don’t rush through the project! You have no deadlines (I hope.) There is no hurry. Take your time and enjoy the drawing process.

The Most Important Thing in Choosing Your First Drawing

The best advice I can offer is to just pick up a pencil, grab a piece of paper, and start drawing. When you’re getting started with your own art, there’s no need for complex compositions. Nor do you need to do a lot of planning. Putting pencil on paper and making something is the important thing.

So focus on that for a few drawings, and let that lead you.

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  1. Gail Jones

    This is a great article, Carrie. I could have benefited from info like this when I first started out. Nowadays especially there are so many interesting subjects vying for our attention on social media and elsewhere. One can become easily overwhelmed.

  2. Ron Portas

    Hi Carrie. I really enjoyed this article. Mainly because I’m at this point of drawing myself. That little voice in the back of your head is annoying- isn’t it? Reading this article has started me thinking! So I’m going to try. I’m thinking- well what’s the worst that can happen? Maybe waste a sheet of paper? Maybe?

    1. Ron,

      Thank you for reading this article and for taking time to leave a comment!

      The worst that can happen is a bad drawing, but I have plenty of those in my collection! You won’t be wasting a sheet of paper because you will learn something. I’ve learned more from the drawings that didn’t turn out than I’ve ever learned from the drawings that did turn out!

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