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You’ve never heard of these drawing ideas because they’re so fantastic, so out there, so difficult to actually parse out from the wall of knowledge that you’re about to experience that no one puts them into blog posts. But at the same time, they’re the best drawing ideas, and the ones that any real artist actually needs. How many posts can you read that say “you should draw a cat” or “try sketching a house first”? It’s time for something different. The real answers.
Amazing Art is Everywhere
I just can’t keep up with the sheer riot of amazing artists I see every day on media sources. I can’t understand people that have more followers than they’re following. When does this world of creators stop seeming like flowering peers you want to watch bloom? How can you not be simultaneously inspired by and depressed by that kaleidoscope of creativity? When I say depressed, I assume you know what I mean. Are all the good drawing ideas already taken?
You come up with this cool design of a goldfish right? You work hard on it, give it all the time and effort you have, only to see some other artist’s goldfish … and it totally blows your goldfish out of the water. Now, here’s what I do in this situation: I never paint a goldfish again, that’s for sure, then I start looking at other things that maybe I could do better. Because obviously I’m not cut out for goldfish …
What are some good drawing ideas?
If that’s why you’re searching for some fresh new subject to loose your creativity upon, I feel your pain. But be cautious with these emotions, because it’s a downward slope. Maybe instead of goldfish, you decide on iguanas. But do it smart this time, let’s go see how good other people are doing iguanas…
Not iguanas, look at THIS guy’s art, mainly featuring iguanas, by the way. There’s NO WAY I could compete with that guy. Ladybugs. Amazing ladybug artists everywhere. Antique children’s toys? Oh hell no, you know who paints antiques? People who bought those things before they were antiques, that’s who. I love antiques, I’m just being hateful. It adds drama. Cars? You’ve got to be kidding me, automotive illustrators are brilliant … Football? Well, there’s always business school, right?
How to get rid of artist’s block?
So that’s one kind of artist block, but maybe you’re here because you’re stuck. Maybe you’ve been drawing goldfish, but lately, your goldfish are looking stale. Or maybe your goldfish look fine, but your seascapes look like an 8-bit Super Mario level(all you wanna do is get outta there, know what I mean?). Or maybe you’re trying to draw, but you’re off, and everything you draw looks like a flaming paper bag that rang your doorbell after eating some rather suspect gas station sushi. Hey, it all happens to the best of us. It can be really good to save your crappy artwork so that you can be inspired by your own progress, and take an important next step:
Light your old artwork on fire!
Ok, that being said, I cannot tell you how freeing it can be to take your blah stuff from the last 3-6 months, stack it like a house of cards in the backyard, and feel your own maturity taking shape … by … fighting the urge to … make smores over the embers of all those toxic craft store chemicals. See? You’re growing already. Your pat on the back should come by mail within 4 to 6 shakes of a stick.
Seriously though, even if you don’t experience the singular flavor of marshmallow, graham cracker and chocolate toasted to turpentine perfection, putting away the images of your past can untether you from those expressive habits that once so defined, yet now restrict you.
Use a Blank Slate
I mean, it’s kind of a derp moment when you have to be reminded as an artist to start over with a blank canvas, but cut us some slack, we have busy little minds ok? Deal.
Take everything off the walls, or start working in a different room. Anything to jumpstart that idea that from now on, you’re not making anything unless it has something better than everything you’ve done before.
Ugh, yet here we are back at THE question:
How do I take my art to the next level?
Because that’s the real reason you’ve got artist block right? The reason you’re looking for good drawing ideas, or searching for what to draw when you’re bored. You want to take what you’ve been doing, and, if not learn to create art like those pro-goldfish-painters, learn to go back to drawing goldfish in a deeper, more expressive way than before. A way that’s every bit as beautiful at the end as that other guy. Just because I’m not the premier goldfish painter of my era doesn’t stop me from thinking goldfish are SO cool and wanting to paint them. Guys. My goldfish picture album folder in the center of my desktop is: Un. Real.
How to make your artwork evolve
Ok, see now we’re getting somewhere. This is actually what makes art so cool. So what if some guy in Argentina gets famous for his 6-story-high photorealistic, highly-lucrative goldfish mural in downtown Buenos Aires. Yawn. I mean, cool artwork, but, that was a really good photo of a goldfish you took and then used yourself like an analog ink-jet printer to transfer from your tablet grid to the side of that 5-star hotel. If you wanna be that guy, maybe invest in a nice camera rather than a nice pencil grip. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t hesitate to paint a tiger wearing a gold leash, if I saw one, but maybe I’ll just get a few bundles of canvas from Michael’s, a couple bigger bristle brushes, and a few months subscription to New Masters Academy. No affiliation. Sadly …
Question. When you own a tiger is it still like at the zoo? Should I feed the tigers or don’t feed the tigers? Both options sound equally terrifying …
Take your artwork to the next level
The moment you’ve all been waiting for, the great list of drawing subjects, things you’ve never considered, enticing new subjects with onion-like layers of meaning and reflection upon the human condition …
I’m sorry, there are so many lists out there of “things.” How to draw a cat or an owl. Drawing stick figures. Do we really need that? It doesn’t answer the deeper question after all, of how to make your artwork more interesting, of how to level up your artwork.
Here’s how to take your art to the next level: Buy a goldfish,
You hate me don’t you?
It’s okay, I don’t need your validation.
Buy a goldfish. Hear me out. Find the most perfect, high-resolution, macro-tastic, color-licious, ‘shopped down to the perfect shade of deepsea lipstick and coral reef eyeshadow, scales polished to airbrushed- Catch Magazine: Swimsuitless Mermaid Edition- perfection … and you still won’t be able to capture the graceful way a goldfish simply drifts around the volume of its transparent enclosure.
Tl;dr: A live fish is worth a thousand pictures of random fish.
It’s like when you’re single, and sure, there are all these Tinder cuties, but you’re still looking at pics of your ex. It was a mutual decision. But who tf is allergic to fish? It’s in. A. Bowl. Don’t eat it and you’ll. Be. Fine. I promise. Why are we talking about this? This is why you can’t trust similes.
A thousand pictures might give the viewer enough insight to grasp the personality of a particular goldfish, but how can that possibly compare to noticing that, when you sit down at your easel, Captain Ticklefins XXVII always comes over and waves with one flipper until you remember his tasty-flakes. Or that he hides in the shadow at sunset until the last bit of shadow, and then he swims out into the light, terrified and one moment later confused by the absence of monsters.
Beware, for when you stare into the goldfish, the goldfish stares back into you.
How do I know when my art is good enough?
I’m gonna spell it out in case my goldfish fantasies muddied the intellectual waters. It’s not about who can paint the best goldfish. Although, if you actually go buy a gold fish and try to paint it as fast as you can as it swims around in circles (great painting idea right?), you’re going to get really fast at painting things you only see for a moment. Useful, you’re thinking. I didn’t invent this, check out gestural and time-limited sketching #protips
But wait, there’s more!
The other thing you’ll get out of this basically impossible task is this: your brain will start to absorb information from and about the living creature you’re studying. You’ll start to learn how its form moves in rhythm to propel it forward. You’ll begin to understand how and why it needs to take on certain shapes to change direction, arrest momentum, or respond to outside stimuli. Just as a cat behaves in an almost celebratory manner when it knows it’s about to be fed, a fish has its own biological clock, and becomes animated by the anticipation of sustenance.
Fishes get happy at dinner time.
Now, google pictures of goldfish, and if any of those images tell you that goldfish feel more comfortable when you’re wearing sea colors, and are terrified of bright red sweaters, maybe I’ll change my point of view …
Did you know that you can hum a goldfish to sleep?
It’s an obsession I’m aware of, thanks.
Here’s what you should draw: something that you see with your eyes that instantly makes you laugh, or cry, or pee your pants. Draw something you can’t capture with a camera, something that would never be seen by any eyes other than your own unless you bring that image to life.
Finding the motivation to draw or create
I think motivation is the biggest factor. It’s hard to push toward something when you’re not even sure it’s the direction that’s right for you. And there’s this whole other aspect in looking at art you find kinship with, while wanting more than just to riff off another artist, but to really make something entirely personal and fulfilling.
Look at it this way when it comes to comparing your skill to someone else. Imagine you’re just looking at this sketch by another artist. You enlarge it to full size on your monitor, pick up your pencil and sketchbook, and you try to sketch exactly what you see. For most people, the result will be basically the same. That guy’s sketch will look way better than yours. Clearly, that guy is doing something you’re not doing. Yes, because that guy isn’t drawing a sketch of a sketch, he’s drawing a sketch of a person.
Learn from Nature
The best thing you can do to improve your art is to stop placing so much importance on comparing your paintings of goldfish to other paintings of goldfish. But to start comparing your paintings to actual goldfish.
Ok, I kind of feel bad for not actually drawing up a things to paint list, despite all the delightful verbal imagery provided for you above …
3 drawing ideas for beginners:
Take three things of similar shape that you find lying around the yard, the living room, in a drawer – group them together in such a way that their shapes align or agree with each other – if you’re drawing with something like graphite, draw the objects in only two shades, or two colors: one color or shade for the dark values, and one color or no shade for the light values – after this exercise, try sketching the objects again as you normally would, and notice if your second drawing experience feels any different.
The purpose of the exercise is to teach yourself to simplify things, but also to observe your subject for a period of time without the pressure of laying down a sketch that’s got to be good enough for anyone’s standards (especially your own) – then, when you go to actually draw the objects for real, you already know pretty well what they look like. Now you can focus on drawing something familiar, instead of something foreign.
If you want to know something crazy, this is actually a miniaturized version of how professionals work. They don’t just pop up in a cornfield with a handful of paintbrushes, scratch in a masterpiece, and sell it for a fistful of cash to the first farmhand they see (farmhands are notorious collectors of art, ask anyone).
Draw with your eraser
When I sit down with a blank page and try to draw something, my first draft is like something you’d get if you zipped up a wild raccoon in your backpack with all your drafting tools, and let your little sister drag it behind the training wheels of her bicycle she got 4 years ago and is way too small for her now. But somewhere in there is the thing I was trying to sketch, and if I just push back some of the static with my eraser, it looks more like Leonardo DaVinci is being dragged across the neighbor’s lawn instead of a raccoon. That’s actually more likely to happen than me getting a drawing perfect on the first try. Just try it, don’t give up on it until you’ve worn a few holes in the page. It’s good for you.
Dream into the image
This is a hard one to teach, because it is the thing that artists have, or have developed, that other people haven’t. I see 50 naughty shades of green in a single tree, but most people just see a green tree. It’s not their fault, they just don’t have any reason to stop and stare at a tree. You’d be just like them, if you weren’t holding a pencil right now, think about THAT.
When I’m trying to draw a tree, I don’t want to outline every leaf, twig, or squirrel in view. Instead, I want to look at the tree first as a mirror. Does it have any qualities that remind me of myself? Of someone I know? Do they, in concert with their surroundings, trigger your sense of beauty, nostalgia, spiritual awareness? If so, then there must be something about that scene, visibly, observably connecting with you on a psychological level. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to observe, let your mind try to grasp what it is about whatever you’re drawing that stands out.
If you’re drawing your transformers hanging out with Barbie in her convertible underneath the kitchen table, you’re already on the right track, don’t change anything. For the rest of you, observe patterns, make order from chaos or vice versa. Consider the reason that you can’t draw as well as some of those artists you see, is because your mind sees a different, interesting way of drawing that you simply can’t quite grasp without time and thought. It’s one thing to draw a bunch of sticks and leaves you see sitting in a tree. It’s another thing to draw a carefully woven collection of materials constructed for the sole purpose of protecting something small and fragile. Don’t you think it’s important to create a work of art that shows the viewer, “A family of bluebirds as they hastily build a nest in the first snowfall.” What I’m not interested in showing the viewer is, “There’s a bunch of sticks and leaves up in some tree.”
A Classic Example
Let me illustrate this by pointing out Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Go look at a few pictures of actual sunflowers, then his painted sunflowers. They are so funny. They’re so sun-like, bright and open, yet their blooms are always leaning over in an almost human-like gesture of sorrow or self-pity. Think of the way Eeyore is always moping around with his head down. Van Gogh’s sunflowers are so fun, because you can tell how much he identified with their emotional likeness. Is it sad or cute? Or interesting? Or E. None of these. It gives you a new appreciation when you see one of his paintings with the blooms looking up instead of down. What do you suppose that meant, in the language of the artist?
You could have all the lists in the world with everything you could possibly want to draw,, but if you want to be an artist, you’ve got to do more than pull the string and listen to what the cow says. And I get that there might be people here reading this who are hell-bent on becoming an anime illustrator or something close-niche, but all my advice pretty much stays the same. Anime features and figures are built on symbols and archetypes that are based on life, then exaggerated. So I say, start with what those symbols are based upon, and perhaps devise new ways to represent those features that might make anime characters even more expressive and likeable.
I’ll leave you with what a friend once told me, “I like art that makes me feel uncomfortable.” Weird right? It kinda challenges what art is supposed to be, at least according to one person. I mean, isn’t all art supposed to give me a tickly giggly feeling all over? Shouldn’t our drawing ideas convey that? Is this post all over? That’s what I wanna know. Hello? I’m finished, can you take the chain off I really need to potty.
Is anyone there? Whatever I’ll just go.