10 Reasons Why Artists Should Draw More

draw more

Most little children love to draw. You can see this ‘phenomenon’ for yourself. Go into any family restaurant and notice how a box of crayons, and a piece of paper will keep restless children happy.

So later, why do so many aspiring artists and even seasoned painters abandon drawing? The fundamentals for both drawing and painting are the same. Yet, the most important factor in drawing and painting is the ability to see.

After careful observation, the artist must translate the scene, and then record it on paper or canvas. This practice is simplified with crayons, markers, and pencils because they are easier to control than paint and a brush.

I myself, was born with a pencil in hand. But over the years, I have been guilty of slacking-off on my drawing skills.

Recently, I was reminded that artists should draw more, not less!

Plein air painting & sketch by Lori McNee

This point was reiterated to me while painting in Maine with landscape artist, T. Allen Lawson. Lawson is a master painter who begins every painting with a sketch and sometimes a detailed drawing.

Whether you choose to draw by quickly sketching the scene before you, or you methodically render a finished work on paper. Whether you are a studio painter or plein air painter, drawing will improve your art.

10 reasons why artists should draw more:

    1. To learn to see.

    2. To inspire the design.

    3. To record the geometric shapes and patterns of the composition 

    4. To organize the composition into 4 values or less for a strong design.

    5. To problem solve and analyze. Fixing the problems with a pencil is easier than with paint.

    6. To save time and spend more time painting and less time problem solving.

    7. To improve your art  – build stronger skills and better paintings.

    8. To help build an agenda for executing your painting.

    9. To learn artistic dexterity and eye-hand coordination.

    10. To help your memory. Drawing helps with short-term memory and ideas that might otherwise be forgotten.

Below you see a sketch and a drawing from Tim Allen Lawson’s personal sketchbook along with notes that will assist him back in the studio. Please notice the tree in the upper right-hand corner of the thumbnail sketch. The detailed tree drawing below was made to further aid Tim when it comes time to compose the information into a studio painting.

T. A. Lawson sketch T. A. Lawson's tree sketch drawing

And remember… 😉

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. ~ Joyce A. Myers

Happy drawing! ~Lori

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26 Comments

  1. tagmoj October 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    you encourage me to learn drawing and draw more and more whenever I can, thank you so much.

    • Lori McNee November 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

      You are welcome! Yes, drawing the so important to our artistic growth…
      Lori

  2. Mary Hiller October 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Right you are, and I’m guilty of not drawing regularly. The odd thing is I love to draw. Good idea to do a little thumb nail sketch in values and composition before starting a painting.

    • Lori McNee November 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Glad to motivate you Mary!

      Happy drawing,
      Lori

      • Julian Escalera May 28, 2014 at 9:28 am

        Hey Lori,

        I’m Julian and I’m 15, I wanted to see if you can help me about my drawing skills or thinking about what to draw, I usually draw plants, animals and faces. But before I start drawing, my mind goes blank and I’m clueless a lot on what to draw. I don’t know why that always happen to me.
        Is that so because I didn’t have a childlike experience or wasn’t always creative?
        I draw almost everyday, and I never stop, it’s just that problem that’s killing me.
        Thanks for your help

        Julian

        • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 10:49 pm

          Julian, I hope I can help you from afar. I am happy you love to draw. It is the foundation to good art. I am the kind of artist who has to look at something to draw or paint. I do not draw from memory very often. I like to look at my subject. Find interesting objects to draw and work from life. This is such a great exercise. Go to a zoo and draw animals. That is challenging and fun! I hope this helped. Good luck, Lori 🙂

  3. Freda October 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for sharing this blog with us, I really like reading your blogs, your word’s are wise and I love to follow you, I am drawing more and more now day’s and it is helping with my paintings and also my memory.

  4. Alan McGinn November 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Great post – good to see that most fundamental of things that is drawing being encouraged. I think whatever your discipline is, it will be informed by continually returning to drawing. I carry a sketchbook everywhere and when I’m asked what advice I’d give to any visual artist, it’s to do just that. Also loving your Painting-a-day posts.

  5. […] next step is to create value thumbnail sketches. Simplify the composition into 4-5 values, paying special attention to patterns and spatial […]

  6. dorothy lorenze November 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Lori,
    I’m a little late to this discussion but I wholeheartedly agree! In fact I wrote a blog post about the (tongue in cheek) value of drawing called, “drawing improves your golf game, I swear!
    If you like, read it here: http://dorothylorenzepainting.blogspot.com/2012/07/drawing-improves-your-golf-game-i-swear.html

  7. Bill Richards December 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I agree – artists should never be discouraged; nay! they should be encouraged. Their eyes see more then the non-artist. We feel the texture with our pencils, or brushes. We reveal to the world what our eyes have laid site upon. As an artist for over 30 years, I teach other subjects such as electronics, math, history, martial arts and the basis for all the classes that I teach evolve around and totally circulate around ART.

    • Lori McNee December 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you for pointing out the importance of art in the school curriculum. Yes, ART is everything! I enjoyed your sentiments!

      Happy drawing!
      Lori 🙂

  8. […] I know, there are a lot of other things I should resolve to do, and I have a short list in mind.  BUT – I will be drawing more.  Lori McNee gives some great reasons in her article “Ten Reasons Why Artists Should Draw More” […]

  9. 2012 Art Highlights | Marisol D'Andrea January 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    […] 10 Reasons Why Artists Should Draw More […]

  10. Olga June 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    That is so true. For years I abandoned simple quick sketching focusing on full paintings instead and just couple of weeks ago a thought hit me and when having no time for full painting I grabbed my sketchbook and a pencil and went to the forest. It was like seeing a whole new world, with fresh eyes. Now every once in while, especially when time is limited, I sketch and try different things, from head, from life. I see with every sketch that my ability to quickly visualise my thoughts is improving. Yes, painters must draw! ^_^

    • Lori McNee June 24, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Yes Olga,
      It’s amazing to see how a little time in the sketchbook saves a lot of time on the canvas. Drawing helps sharpen one’s skills and composing that enhances our painting abilities. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. majid July 11, 2013 at 10:06 am

    drawing is the meaning of life

  12. Pamela December 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Great post. I’m going on vacation with crayons, color pencils and sketch pad.

    • Lori McNee January 20, 2014 at 12:19 am

      I love traveling with drawing materials. It makes the long rides so enjoyable if you are the passenger. Have fun!

  13. […] everyone is gifted with skillful hands. However, when it comes to drawing, you can do it as long as you have the confidence and willingness to […]

  14. malte May 29, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Don´t work for me. Think you have to be a proffesional or one, who is good in marking his produkts,(pictures). Please don´t get me wrong I spend most of my freetime for drawing , think i m addicted , but the progress is just redicules, when you have work to get money to spend the freetime for what you love. But maybe i m only a bit jealous.
    nice time
    malte

    • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Well, keep drawing anyway Malte. It is good for your growth as an artist, and it is therapeutic. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  15. tender gov October 4, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Awesome post.

  16. […] The next step is to take the concept and refine it into a composition. It’s helpful to create value thumbnail sketches. Try simplifying the composition into 4-5 values, paying special attention to patterns and spatial […]

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