Category: #LearningToDraw (page 1 of 14)

What happen when Chris tries to teach himself to draw.


I’ve always wanted to draw.

As a child I fell in love with Herge’s Tintin and they were magical books, images which were so evocative that I could not understand how they were created with a few lines and a splash of colour. In time I progressed to 2000AD, superheroes and more mature works but then my interest shifted to pure art and design. All of which had the ability to draw, to create a representation which others would recognise, at their heart.

However, I had a problem. I was diagnosed as dyslexic as a child. This was in the 1970s when such ideas were only just entering mainstream educational thinking. A child nowadays with my problems would be diagnosed with a mix of dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia though the labels do not matter. The problem I had was very poor hand/eye coordination making my handwriting illegible. The educational consequences of this and other aspects of my dyslexia left me with a poor psychological relationship with pens, paper and showing people anything I did.

After leaving school at 16, I kept trying to overcome my handwriting and English problems and by the time I was in my thirties, things were much improved. Yet, despite several efforts, including going to college as a mature student and doing Art A Levels, my drawing and visual art skills had not progressed (see these old images from for an idea of my skill level).

In 2016 my Mother died after a very long and debilitating fight with dementia. Inevitably, one’s thoughts turns to the past, the future and mortality at times like that. In my case, I decided that if I ever wanted to be able to draw, that I had bloody well better start now. Otherwise either or death or dementia would take me before I got round to it.

This time, this attempt to teach myself to draw, would be different.

Firstly, I would be serious about it. Previous attempts had involved a few hours here and there with a sketch pad plus the odd life drawing class. This time, I am going to put the hours in. Malcolm Gladwell publicised the concept of “10,000 hours” – the amount of practice it takes to become truly good at a task. The amount of time I had spent learning in previous attempts at learning to draw was considerably less, probably less than 100 hours in total. So for this attempt, I need to practice everyday for at least an hour a day.

Secondly, I would do this all in public. Dyslexia left deep scars – when everything you do is wrong, or at least considerably worse than your peers, school is not a particularly fun place). This fear and embarrassment of sharing my work deprived me of the natural support network of friends. The constant whisper of one’s inner demons – “this is terrible, people will laugh at you” – creates stress which impacts both on muscle control and the brains ability to learn. Neither particularly helpful when trying to teach yourself a complex skill. To learn to draw, I needed to face this fear, to accept that I would be terrible and that people might mock or judge me for it.

So I started drawing in coffee shops and posting on Twitter (@tregenza) using the hashtag #LearningToDraw. Every appalling sketch, every failure, every mistake would be embraced and shown to the world. Going to the coffee shop everyday gives my drawing time structure – helping me to put the hours in and stay focused.

This all started in late March / early April 2016 and the structure of the #LearningToDraw sessions and hashtag has developed. As of Late May 2016 I am now sharing daily posts of my progress here on my blog (#LearningToDraw) and on other social media – Facebook and G+.

#LearningToDraw : 2017-02-06

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-02-06 in 3 tweets

Heads not from reference (mostly), working on different angles as I try to get my brain around the complex shapes involved. #learningtodraw

Poses out of my head. The aim was a form which looked right – alive and proportional. Didn’t achieve it but not appalling. #learningtodraw

That’s it for #learningtodraw. Now going to lie down and hope the world stops spinning.

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-02-01

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-02-01 in 4 tweets

More quick poses but this time with serious foreshortening. #learningtodraw

Some more complex but equally naff sketches. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-26

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-26 in 4 tweets

Warming up with some head. Sorry heads. #learningtodraw

Repeated abstraction, pencil sketch based on a photo and then repeatedly simplyfying the poses. #learningtodraw

All of today’s work. Not my best end product but good practice,asking me think about things. #learningtodraw

My life drawing work from last night’s class at @LifeDrawNottm. Various 1, 5, 10 and 20 minute sketches. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-22

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-22 in 6 tweets

Back in Costa for today’s session. Warming up with faces. Trying to get a very simple design so I can play with expression #learningtodraw

The development of a face. No reference, just working out how to get a level of consistency. #learningtodraw

Simple faces showing emotion copied from a variety of sources. #learningtodraw

Poses from a photos of normal people, not models, for a more natural stance. Some better that others. Need cake. #learningtodraw

A combination of working on form and then inking. Based on reference photos. #learningtodraw

That’s it for today. Lots of abstract faces and bodies. All good solid technique practice. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-21

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-21 in 8 tweets

Made to Starbucks for only second time this year. Warming up with basic head shapes but struggling to get a feminine shape. #learningtodraw

Oh my god, it’s full of heads. #learningtodraw

Not just heads this time but whole bodies. Using natural street poses (mostly) I’m trying to deconstruct the body shapes. #learningtodraw

More full poses, working on basic structure, using street photos which gives natural poses but I have to deduct clothes. #learningtodraw

Not brilliant but pleased with the process. Started with a reference photo for the pose but added my own clothes & hair. #learningtodraw

Another copied pose but dressed from my imagination. Not perfect but better than the first one. #learningtodraw

Final pose clothed by my imagination. Pleased with how I’ve got the body shape. It’s taken from a photo of Churchill. #learningtodraw

I’ve been here six hours so better piss off home and get lunch. Pleased with a day of solid technique practice. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-18

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-18 in 6 tweets

It’s my life drawing class later so I’m in town for a shortish session before hand. Today’s its drawing exercises and hands. #learningtodraw

Having to shuffle my seat so I can draw on the left page due to inconvenient pillar. One of the drawbacks of a landscape pad #learningtodraw

Focusing on gesture drawings of the same pose working on a good, fast technique. #learningtodraw

Some fairly naff poses, trying to get proportions right on a overly muscled model. #learningtodraw

Three quickish life poses focusing on outlining the body and then layering the clothes on top. #learningtodraw

Various 1, 5, 10 and 20 minute poses from tonight’s @LifeDrawNottm class. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-17

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-17 in 4 tweets

How’s your day going Chris? Well, it’s 4pm and I’m just sitting down to do what I planned to do at 9am. #learningtodraw

Three versions of the same pose. #learningtodraw

All of today’s #learningtodraw. Limited quantity due a short session. More tomorrow.

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-16

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-16 in 5 tweets

It’s drizzling, cold and I slept really badly but I have made it out, got coffee and I have a new sketchbook. #learningtodraw

My new sketchook is in landscape format which is a new experience. Need to use the page differently. #learningtodraw

Repeating a pose working on form and techniques. The new sketchbook is lovely, better feel of paper and a whiter colour. #learningtodraw

Sketches from reference photos. No particular purpose other than practice. #learningtodraw

All of today’s output. Having a landscape sketchbook does a challenge for these round up shoots. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project

#LearningToDraw : 2017-01-15

#LearningToDraw for the 2017-01-15 in 6 tweets

Trying a bit of copperplate calligraphy with my warm-up page. It’s quite tricky. #learningtodraw

Struggling with the flat pencil approach, trying to get a more expressive style by doing the same pose repeatedly. #learningtodraw

A couple of studies looking at planes and forms. #learningtodraw

Some not bad shading and proportions. Not good but not bad either. #learningtodraw

More playing with form. This one based on a very some superhero poses (Sue Storm I think) but shading my own. #learningtodraw

A day of poses and experiments. Some good, some not so good. #learningtodraw

Follow #LearningToDraw on Twitter: @tregenza or find out more about the Learning To Draw project


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