Drawing may be something you’ve loved doing since you were little. This passion is shared by many people across South Africa. Drawing pictures is reflective and stimulates your creativity by igniting your imagination.

Perhaps you are considering taking drawing lessons to learn the basics or to refine your technique?

You may wonder where to start, who to learn from and what to draw?

There are many options available to you – you may consider formal lessons in an art studio, doing casual weekend courses or even hiring a private tutor. As not all these options suit everybody, the best way to choose the method of instruction is by assessing your needs and determining which method best fulfils them.

These tips will help you choose the right teacher and the supplies you need in order to progress.

Finding the Right Drawing Teacher

Making the decision to be taught how to draw may be simple, but you may find searching for the right teacher daunting.

A teacher has a significant impact on how much you enjoy a subject – regardless of whether it is Math, Afrikaans classes or drawing lessons.

How do you determine what you need to look for when searching for a drawing teacher and where do you start looking?

The first thing to consider is which technique the instructor specialises in and whether that is well suited to you – if you are interested in drawing landscapes, you would not need a teacher who focuses on the anime style of drawing.

multi coloured chalk
Choose a teacher who is a specialist in a certain technique or medium. | Source: Unsplash

When choosing your drawing teacher, always consider their preferred medium and technique. Many art teachers may be proficient in several techniques but often lean toward a certain medium (charcoal, oil painting, pastels etc.). Consider what you wish to focus on (landscapes, portraiture, comics …) and choose your drawing instructor accordingly.

Professional criticism is essential if you wish to improve as it points out areas that may need further attention and this helps you hone your own artistic instincts. It is important that your instructor knows how to offer constructive criticism without belittling or disheartening you.

A Private Art Tutor May Be the Answer!

The Superprof platform helps match people who want to learn to draw, with drawing tutors. Some tutors offer a choice between face-to-face lessons in your home or lessons via webcam. This allows you to choose the mode of instruction you feel most comfortable with. Lessons via webcam mean that you are not restricted to instructors who are in your immediate vicinity, but that you can choose from instructors anywhere in the country, or even elsewhere in the world.

You can look at each tutor’s profile and choose the ideal match for your needs. Having a private tutor means you will also be in control of your own schedule and budget.

Many art tutors are art students who teach lessons to help support themselves financially or to gain experience for their professional careers. They may be studying Fine Arts, Architecture or Design and will have a solid theoretical and practical base to draw from and then impart easily to their student.

When looking for an art teacher, whether an art student or a professional, try posting on online forums, on noticeboards at colleges or search online at Superprof.

What Art Supplies Are Needed for Drawing Lessons?

The most important element when learning to draw, are your art supplies. With a bit of industriousness, basic supplies should not cost you an arm and a leg.

Line drawing will most probably be covered in your first art lesson. You will be taught how to draw realistically on paper, using perspective drawing, foreshortening and light and shade.

Many art teachers have a collection of basic supplies for beginners, but you should aim to buy your own sharpener, ruler, kneaded eraser and pencil.

For the first lesson, a simple HB pencil is perfect – it is the perfect middle ground between a hard (H) and a soft (B) lead.

Art supplies
An HB pencil is the perfect tool when you begin lessons | Source: Unsplash

An eraser will be needed to remove your errors. A kneaded eraser is ideal for this task -- it allows you to remove lines completely or simply dim them, depending on your requirements.

You will know what art supplies to invest in once you have grasped the various mediums and have progressed in your art lessons. Specific supplies (pencils, coloured pencils, charcoal, paper …) are needed for each different technique. Even once you’ve chosen which techniques to focus on, accumulating the right palette for your style will take some time. For instance, you may want to invest in a range of graphite strengths if you’ve chosen to continue drawing in pencil.

It is important to take care of your supplies so that you do not have to replace them too often. Purchase portfolios to store your unused paper and completed drawings in. Always sharpen your pencils properly after using them. Use a pencil case to protect your pencils as they can easily be damaged if not stored correctly. You can buy specialised items that allow you to store a range of art tools correctly as you progress in different techniques.

The right art supplies for your needs can be found in supermarkets, art supply stores or online

How Expensive Are Drawing Lessons?

You can learn online via your laptop screen, with the help of an art teacher or you can join a class at an art studio.

Art schools and studios offer curriculums that help you advance through the duration of the course. Lessons expand on the skills taught in prior sessions and the accredited teachers help you progress.

If you’re not able to attend a weekly art class, look for a course running during your annual leave period. A week-long course is perfect for intensive drawing sessions that allow you to make significant progress over a short period of time. You can take drawing courses covering a variety of subjects, from beginners drawing skills and observation to objects and still lifes.

pencils in holder
No matter how advanced you are, an eraser will always be useful. | Source: Unsplash

Art studios can be found in many cities in South Africa. Prices will vary depending on location and techniques being taught but can range from between R250 for a drawing session to R4 500 for an 8-lesson course.

However, learning to draw is accessible to all budgets – if you wish to save on drawing lessons or are unable to commit to weekly classes, you can learn basic drawing via private drawing lessons.

On Superprof you can get drawing lessons starting from R80 per hour. There are tutors offering lessons in a variety of drawing media and you can take advantage of a popular discount offered by many tutors, of the first hour free of charge. This allows you to get a feel for the tutor’s teaching style and to determine if the teacher is a good fit for you.

Some tutors also offer a discount for multiple lessons – which will come in handy when learning the basics of drawing.

When working out what you can afford to pay for drawing lessons, remember to factor in the cost of your basic drawing materials (kneaded eraser, pencil, sharpener, ruler).

Ways to Improve Between Your Drawing Lessons

You may have booked one lesson per week and feel as though the next lesson is very far away. What can you do to practise and progress between your drawing lessons?

There are several exercises you can use to help improve your drawings.

Visual memory plays an important role in drawing. Landscape artists must often capture scenes that only last for a few minutes and need to remember as many elements as possible to transfer to paper at a later point.

Practise as much as you can – even draw people walking past you in the street. This will help you hone your gaze and exercise your memory.

Draw as often as possible - sketch people passing by. |Source: Unsplash

Draw as frequently as possible. When the weather’s good and the South Easter’s not howling, take a walk to the park and draw the shrubs and flowers or the cars passing by. Constant doodling offers health benefits but is also a great way to learn to train your eye and learn from your errors.

Switching Between Mediums Can Also Help You Advance More Swiftly

You also need to work on your concentration and practice diligence to make progress. Draw regularly and learn to tune out distractions to concentrate on the drawing before you.

When varying drawing techniques, you will learn new ways of working with hues and definition. You may feel comfortable drawing in pastel or charcoal, but you could improve your core technique by learning new techniques and working in different mediums, that will all teach you different skills.

Wander Through Art Galleries

Try to visit art galleries and museums to uncover the wide variety of different techniques and styles used.

This will help to broaden your knowledge of additional drawing techniques and may spark your imagination. You may decide to make your museum visit a family trip – it will offer unique benefits to the various members of your family

Another option to consider is hosting your own exhibition at home. Displaying your art and inviting critique from new sets of eyes can only help you improve.

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Kim is from Cape Town, South Africa. She enjoys reading and spending summer days on the beautiful blue flag beaches that the Western Cape is blessed with. She is currently working on getting her groove back.