5 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Draw Before You Learn to Paint

5 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Draw Before You Learn to Paint

5 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Draw Before You Learn to Paint

Like the age-old question “which came first--the chicken or the egg?” a similar question in the art world is whether you should first learn to draw, or paint. Spoiler: you should learn to draw first.

What is drawing? Technically, it’s making dry marks on a surface. What is painting? Same thing, with a wet medium and a paint brush. When we think of drawing, many examples come to mind. Sketching a still life, a live model, a random object or animal, perhaps. In a professional sense, people can be illustrators of children’s books, fashion designers who sketch their design concepts before actualizing the garment, architects drawing plans for a building, and even sketch artists helping investigators find criminals by drawing details from reports made by victims. If any of that was done as painting without clear lines and proportions first, it would probably be tough for anyone to decipher. 

(Artwork by: @glenn_arthur_art)

Drawing is beneficial in several ways:

  1.  Helps you identify your style 
  2.  Teaches you basic concepts such as shape, form, light, and  shadow 
  3.  Increases accuracy in painting rather than painting freehand —you end up coloring in the lines you’ve drawn
  4.  You can more easily control proportion as you can see the scale first when drawing before painting
  5.  Drawing loosens up your hands, helps you paint with a better and freer flow

(Artwork by: @katezambrano)

Another huge benefit to drawing is that it’s faster than painting, period. You can see immediate results when you’re drawing a subject. Whereas when you paint, it’s a multi step process and there’s drying time involved until you can evaluate what your next step will be, and so forth until your painting is complete. Better to master drawing and then go on to learn painting so one doesn’t become frustrated with the slower speed of the painting processes. 

(Artwork by: @katezambrano)

All this is not to say that one cannot paint without learning to draw; but the best approach to develop your skills as an artist is to learn to draw first and then build on your skills by learning how to paint. Drawing makes your overall ability as a painter more technically correct and informed rather than just freehand painting something you want to replicate. You’ll develop your own style and your paintings will be unique expressions, which is what becoming an artist is all about. 

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