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Learn to Draw and Paint - An Introduction

Updated on December 18, 2014
Learn how to draw and paint - keep an artist sketchbook
Learn how to draw and paint - keep an artist sketchbook | Source

Learn to Draw and Paint - An Introduction to Art

This is an introduction to your painting and drawing course in the BLW School of Art and it includes Project No. 1: Keeping a Sketch Book.

In this article I'll outline the way that you'll learn to draw and paint. I suggest that you visit art galleries, learn a little about the way that we see and learn about the history of art.

I ask you to get a nice sketch book, or even two and to start to use them to record your ideas. There are so many visually stimulating things all around you once you have opened your eyes to them. I hope that you will begin to look and to see.

Not a member of my art school yet? Visit the reception desk and enrol today - it's FREE.

Want to Know More About this School of Art?

Visit the art school reception desk for more information

I've started an on line school of art which will take the form of a series of articles guiding you along a path towards creativity in much the same way as a real art college does, but this one is free to follow and you can do it in your own time and space. I've finished this introduction, the Reception Desk is up and running and I have a CV on line so you can take a look at my qualifications. The Library is in the process of being built, and the Art School shop is being stocked right now. We do have a common room on facebook and there is at least one student waiting to meet you there.

For more information click on the Reception Desk sign below.

Keeping in touch - these are the two key sites:

The List Of Lessons This is simply an index of the Projects, lessons and other modules that go to making up this course.

'The Common Room' A facebook group where I'll be posting links.

Young Hare by Albrecht DÃurer (1471-1528)
Young Hare by Albrecht DÃurer (1471-1528) | Source

How Can You Learn to Draw and Paint?

What is the secret?

In this module I'm going to try to outline my methods of teaching, and how I hope that you will learn to express yourself through painting and drawing. The first thing to say is that there is no secret.

Sadly it all boils down to looking and doing. There is a bit of learning of course. Knowing your materials and how to use them is important. Using the correct equipment and having a grasp of the history of art will help. But you'll be shocked at how little there is to learn and how much there is to do. Struggle, practice and work hard.

My role will be to direct you to look and see and to encourage you to draw and paint. Simple!

Visit Exhibitions

Read Art and Illusion and The Story of Art

Project No. 1 - Start a Sketch Book


Looking and Seeing

These are not the same!

The first thing that I'd like you to do is to start looking, and looking hard. I'd love you to start to look at the world around you with new eyes. Look at light and dark, look at colour, look at the way that objects relate to each other. Look at things and look at the spaces between things.

Once you start to look, you'll begin to see. You'll see that the whole world, no matter how small you're particular world happens to be, is alive with textures, tones, colours, shapes, forms and happy coincidences.

Read Art and Illusion - By E H Gombrich

This book is a bit of a tomb but it is fascinating and I don't think you'll find it a chore to read. Gombrich examines the psychology of seeing. He shows us how the brain constructs what it sees. He describes the physiology of seeing, compares truth and stereotypes, studies how we understand the third dimension and so much more.

All this will help you to understand why we make the mistakes we do when we draw and paint, and how we can guard against these errors and compensate for them.

Image: Self Portrait 1669 by Rembrandt (1606-1669)
Image: Self Portrait 1669 by Rembrandt (1606-1669) | Source

Learn From the Old Masters

Look at good works of art

When I lived in London I never tired of popping into the National Gallery to check out a few paintings. Rembrandt has long been one of my heroes and I'd nip in to have a quick look to try to see how he did it! Of course, I couldn't see how he did it, much less produce paintings with that same luscious texture, sumptuous colour and powerful light. Never-the-less, I'm firmly of the belief that you will learn to draw and paint, and learn to be self-critical by looking at good works of art.

How do you find good works?

  • Don't go to your local art show and admire the work of people just one step ahead of you. Go to the masters. Look at Giotto, Kandinsky, Bellini, El Greco, Pollock, Goya, Van Gogh, Redon, Chagal, Rothko ...... These are just a few off the top of my head, and all are recent, western artists, there is so much more. I have to apologise for being so ethno-centric. I'd like to broaden out this course with the help of my students - you!
  • Do try to see art 'in the flesh'. Go to the top art galleries if you can. See the very best
  • Do go to your local art gallery if you can. See especially visiting exhibitions
  • If you can't see the work at first hand, then read books or look at good works of art on-line

I've included a link below to a site that will start you in the right direction.

Image: Self Portrait 1669 by Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Egon Schile's Bedroom, Egon Schiele, 1911,
Egon Schile's Bedroom, Egon Schiele, 1911, | Source

Learn About the History of Art

Study art history

I studied art history at the University of Edinburgh, but what we studied was only a tiny slice of the history of art world wide. We began with the ancient Greeks and, with the exception of a tiny divergence hither and thither, we followed a path through Europe jumping on highlights here and there, and finally visited America in the 20th century. We didn't visit India, Africa, Australia .... you get the idea?

In retrospect I realse that we were being trained by art collectors to recognise valuable works of largely European art. If anyone joining this course can widen my perspectives, please do contribute.

In the meantime, my introductory book to the history of art is that old classic, 'The Story of Art'.

Image: Egon Schile's Bedroom, Egon Schiele, 1911, Public Domain image courtesty of Wikimedia Commons

The Story of Art - By E H Gombrich

This is a good old classic - I was given it to read over summer before starting my art history course at Edinburgh University, and it's still on reading lists today. Easy to read and well illustrated, it is an introduction to western art starting with neolithic cave paintings.

The only downside to this book is that it is following the path western art has taken and so it's range is necessarily limited. You'll have to go elsewhere for information about art in Indian, Chinese, South American, Inhuit etc

Keep an artist sketchbook
Keep an artist sketchbook | Source

Project No. 1 The Sketch Book

Keeping a Sketchbook

Finally, I would like you to keep a sketchbook. This will help you to see. I would suggest that you keep a sketch book so that you can make notes about the things that you see. It can be anything. Little sketches, collections of textures, collages of bits of paper, photos, whatever. things that you have noticed and liked.

To begin with you can use just an ordinary pencil. So, your first materials:

  • A sketch book
  • A pencil

I would advise you to get two sketch books. An A4 book for sketching and drawing, but also a tiny one that you can keep in your pocket or handbag. This little one you can use at the café, the bar, in the bath - whatever. Never be without your sketch book.

If you have no money, then use scrap paper stapled together at one corner to make a pad. Add a bit of cardboard to the back for support. If you can buy a couple of sketch books, though, I'd recommend bound ones with fairly good paper. This is because a sketch book should travel with you all the time. you'll want to refer to your sketches and ideas while you work, and it's a thing to keep and to treasure in the future.


What Shall I Do With My Sketchbook?

Start with just a pencil if you like

Anything and everything. But if you can't think of how to start, just look in front of you. What do you see?

At the time that I asked myself that question, I was putting eggs into a box to take to my neighbour. Here are just three photos of three eggs in an egg box; I hope you'll find the differences between them exciting and it will make you want to just start drawing.

Sketch Books on Amazon

Moleskine Art Plus Hard Cover Sketchbook, Plain, Pocket Size (3.5" x 5.5") Black - Sketch Pad for Drawing, Watercolor Painting, Sketchbook for Teens, Artists, Students
Moleskine Art Plus Hard Cover Sketchbook, Plain, Pocket Size (3.5" x 5.5") Black - Sketch Pad for Drawing, Watercolor Painting, Sketchbook for Teens, Artists, Students

Tiny Sketch Book: Top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go drawings, sketches and tempera colors. 80 pages, 3.8 x 0.6 x 5.6 inches. Thread bound with cardboard bound cover, acid free paper, a bookmark, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.


Box of Eggs 2

Outside - the light is different

Just look at the different tones shapes and shadows now.


Box of Eggs 3

These three images of eggs in a box are mundane but all are quite different. Could you start drawing with just a pencil, and try to capture the difference? The dramatic light, the strong, angular shadows, the softer light, the different compositions?

We might revisit these eggs later in the course to discuss these elements. For this first project, though, I'd like you just to have a go and see what you come up with. Remember that sketch books are personal things. It is for your own pleasure and use. Nobody will judge your sketch book.

Now, take up your pencil, look just to the left or right of your computer screen and draw.


Let me know what you think, how you get on by leaving a message in the comments box below.

Moleskine Art Plus Hard Cover Sketchbook, Plain, Large (5" x 8.25") Scarlet Red - Sketch Pad for Drawing, Watercolor Painting, Sketchbook for Teens, Artists, Students
Moleskine Art Plus Hard Cover Sketchbook, Plain, Large (5" x 8.25") Scarlet Red - Sketch Pad for Drawing, Watercolor Painting, Sketchbook for Teens, Artists, Students

100 pages, 5.1 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches. Top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go drawings, sketches and tempera colors.


Another Artist Shares An Inspiring Sketchbook - So many ideas and some beautiful drawings

Pentalic Sketch Book, Hardbound, 8-1/2-Inch by 11-Inch
Pentalic Sketch Book, Hardbound, 8-1/2-Inch by 11-Inch

Hardbound with 110 sheets of bright white 70-pound acid free drawing paper. Textured, black embossed cover.

Sketch Book Value Pack-Set of 3 Sketch Books
Sketch Book Value Pack-Set of 3 Sketch Books

All three drawing pads feature bright white acid-free paper for sketching, drawing, pastels, and pen and ink

The sketch book measures 8-1/2 x 11 inches and is hard bound with 110 sheets of 65 pound paper

The drawing pad measures 9 x 12 inches with 24 sheets of 80 pound paper

The sketching pad measures 9 x 12 inches with 50 sheets of wire bound 65 pound paper


Just a Note About Commercialism

This is not a site that aims to sell you lots of art products

I will include Amazon, eBay or other ads for many of the books and art materials that I mention. This might be useful to you if you want to buy them, (and I do earn a tiny amount if you do buy art supplies through my pages), but I'd like to stress that this painting and drawing course is not an excuse for me to sell products to you. The Amazon ads are easy ways for me to show illustrations and details of the items. You might find easier or cheaper ways to source your books, materials and equipment.

For books always try your local library first. If they don't have the books that I suggest you'll be able to order them and all for free. You can then decide if you need a copy of your own. If you do buy from Amazon, visit the site in your own country - it may be cheaper; but in France is almost always more expensive for me even taking the postage into consideration. Remember that you can also buy books second hand from Amazon, often for as little as a cent/ centime/penny.

For materials, try other suppliers, local art shops, e-bay and the small ads. You can improvise on some materials, but for others you really need adequate quality. I'll make a list of basic materials and a reading list

Where in the World Are We? - In Limousin, a hidden corner of South West France


get directions


get directions


get directions

Are You Interested in a Free On Line Art Course? - Or do you have any other thoughts on my painting course ideas?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I like how you emphasize that there's not much to learn, that it's mostly doing. Practicing for hours and hours is how anyone gets good at anything, even if some start out with more natural ability than others.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! Neat lens! Neat occupation! Neat location!! SquidAngel Blessed! ;-)

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      6 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I am taking a drawing class,I am enjoying it.Thanks for sharing with us.I love to draw.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love to draw and paint it is fun and my paper crafts look better when I add some of my doodles to them.

    • intermarks profile image


      6 years ago

      This is just awesome, thanks for your kindness to share your knowledge on art and drawing. I have been wanted to learn drawing since long time ago. Thanks!

    • BLouw profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Walton 

      6 years ago from France

      @LadyelenaUK: Elena, this is an on-line class and this is the first project - so get yourself a sketch book and pencil and go to it! Many thanks for leaving this nice comment.

    • LadyelenaUK profile image


      6 years ago

      This is Brilliant Barbara. I particularly liked the "Looking and Seeing". I wish I lived in France to enjoy your class. :) Bon Chance.


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