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Can or Can’t Draw – Did You Know This About Drawing?

Before you decide whether you can or can’t draw, read this!

Last week, I re-organized my art supplies. Paints and painting mediums got a more accessible location, and pens and other drawing supplies went into a closet. It was a consequence of the revelation that I had become a painter.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio

But instead of declaring the love for painting, this post is about drawing!

Namely, my journey in art has been gathered around finding my line. To me, the line is the voice. It’s the leading singer, while colors and heavier shapes are the rest of the orchestra. The line itself is enough to make any piece of art sing.

I am listening, an example of drawing freely from inspiration by Paivi Eerola. If you say you can't draw, maybe you define drawing too narrowly.
“I Am Listening” from 2015, black drawing pen and colored pencils

“I can’t draw” was my problem for too many years. Then I realized that we define drawing too narrowly.

We aim for the skills of drawing realistic objects and then end up worrying about the stiffness of our work. “I want to be more spiritual, I want to be more abstract, I want to see me in my drawings.” Have you ever thought like this?

My solution was to abandon references and start drawing circles.

Handdrawn circles. This doesn't have to be the only thing you can draw.
Circles from 2011

Don’t Just Draw Circles!

Those years spent with circles now felt like a waste of time. I didn’t have guidance for freehand drawing, and I did what felt comfortable at first. But circles are closed and rigid shapes, and when you want to open up and loosen up, you need to open and loosen your circles too.

Here’s a short 4-minute video from 2017 that shows how you can move forward from drawing circles.

Drawing – like any art – has two sides.

One side is a skill of controlling a pen or a brush so that the result is attractive and aesthetically pleasing. But drawing is also a skill of getting out of control and expressing the limitlessness of the mind.

Both skills support each other. Clarity and stiffness add ornamental beauty to loose lines. And drawing wildly helps with showing more personality when you want to be in control.

Drawing from imagination with a thin-tipped drawing pen. If you can't draw, try this!

For me, exploring drawing from the other angle was ground-breaking.

I developed a class called Inspirational Drawing, where we draw and color freely but also use inspiration images to boost imagination. Inspirational Drawing 2.0 is the latest version of this popular class.

Inspirational Drawing, an online art class about drawing freely

You know you can draw when drawing feeds inspiration.

When I paint, I start with a vague idea and go where happy accidents lead me. I don’t need much to get started. The first idea can be just a color combination from an old painting.

Painting lines with a brush - one form of drawing!

By practicing inspirational drawing, I found my living line, and the energy that’s packed into it is enough for any sized painting. My line sings, and the rest of the orchestra supports it.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Exploring living line by painting.
This Too Shall Pass, oil painting, 60 x 73 cm, 2021

So, isn’t it sad if we try to improve our art without paying any attention to our line?
If we try to release the expression without releasing the line, giving the full power to the leading singer?
If we say we can or can’t draw without allowing free expression?

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Can or Can’t Draw – Did You Know This About Drawing?

  1. Again–your inspiration is spot on–thank you–circles are one of my favorite things to draw—I had a councilor tell me one time–that maybe “I was going in circles” and they were trying to tell me to loosen up? But, alas, I still like my circles

    Helen Sanford

    1. Thanks, Helen! I think circles are the most effortless shape to draw so it’s what we do by default. It’s very relaxing to draw them!

  2. I really like your metaphor of ice melting into water and making things grow. Your unique mix of representation and fantasy in your art is fascinating, and I hope to take this class in the future.

  3. I like to draw lines and see how it develops. I never draw just circles, but varying kinds of patterns. These lines and patterns can then form a base for a painting, either abstract or figurative, if I can see figures in it. I think this is called intuitive art.
    This also forms the base of so-called Vedic Art. I have recently attended the three basic courses of Vedic Art. It´s very similar to the art that Päivi makes.
    I really like this approach to art making!

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