What I Learned From Completing My First Sketchbook

How far can a total beginner get by filling 100 pages with drawings?

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Drawing by the author, Benya Clark.

Earlier this year I decided to learn how to draw. It’s something I’ve had a vague interest in for years, but never stuck with for more than a few days in the past.

I’ve now been drawing semi-regularly for the past four and a half months, and just last week I finally finished filling my first 100-page sketchbook.

My progress has felt very gradual, so it’s fun now to flip through and see just how far I’ve actually come.

Early on in my sketchbook, I had tried my very best to draw a person, taking as much time as I needed. I’m a grown adult, but my drawing looked like the product of an elementary school student. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look for yourself:

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Drawing by the author, Benya Clark.

After that abomination, I spent a lot of time reading and watching videos about drawing, as well as doing dozens (maybe hundreds?) of quick sketches.

Here are a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far, both from what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong:

  • Start with the basics. Instead of spending a lot of time learning fancy tools or special rendering techniques, I’m sticking with a basic pen and pencil and trying to learn the drawing fundamentals. Specifically, I’ve focused my effort so far on understanding construction, perspective, and light (all at a very elementary level).

Finally, I’ll leave you with my most recent drawing of a person, from a couple of weeks ago. (I’ve been focusing on inanimate objects the past couple of weeks.) I’ve still got a very long way to go, but I’ve definitely come far from where I started:

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Drawing by the author, Benya Clark.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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