People just getting started in drawing ask me all the time what are good subjects to draw. And my answer is always the same – draw what interests you, what you are curious about and/or makes you happy.
Draw what interests you
To get better at drawing, you need to practice. That’s just a fact. And drawing involves many hours of staring, so you might as well stare at what interests you. Choose something with an interesting shape or light/shadow pattern, and stare at it. Squint your eyes to see the shapes of big broad patterns and recreate that on the page.
When I chose this grouping of shells, it was because I liked how the shape of each played against the other. I also loved the shadow shapes created by light raking across the forms.
As I drew, I was fascinated by these hard objects that at one point were soft and folded on themselves before hardening into the protective housing for a sea creature. I tried to capture the “folds” in the shells as if they were soft drapery. Challenging and so much fun!
Draw to satisfy your curiosity
Choose a subject to draw that sparks your curiosity. I often draw because I have questions about my subject or my environment. I keep a nature journal where I record my observations, write notes, draw and diagram my subjects.
I became curious about the myriad types of acorns I discovered on a walk. Where I grew up I had only ever seen one type. All of a sudden, I’m noticing three different kinds!
This sparked questions, observations and imaginative thoughts. Now when I go out, I’m a better observer of my surroundings but more importantly I’m more engaged, more present.
This is what drawing can do!
Draw what makes you happy
Maybe that’s your dog, your beloved or your child. Maybe it’s a corner of your backyard. But drawing something that sparks a positive emotion is always a good subject to draw. Don’t be intimidated by your skill level. We all started somewhere, and we all still continue to learn. That’s what I think makes drawing so awesome.
Dogs, cats, chipmunks, birds, animals in general – spark warm fuzzies in me. They are one of my favorite subjects to draw. I mean, how can you not be happy drawing this face?
A trick I’ve learned when drawing something new (and scary) is to use the softest pencil you can find. I think I used a Blackwing graphite pencil, which is like a 4B or 5B in drawing pencils – very soft. And it had a blunt point.
This way some of the pressure to put detail in is lifted. You just can’t with such a soft pencil, but you can always go back later with a harder pencil if you want more detail.
So grab some paper, a pencil and look around for something to draw. If you need a list to inspire, keep reading.
5 Good subjects to draw for beginners
- Leaves. There are so many shapes and sizes of leaves, you’ll never get bored. Choose 3 to compare and contrast.
- Eyes. The windows to the soul are fascinating to draw. It’s a challenging subject, but give it a go!
- Your shoe. This is a tried and true art school subject. You’ve got a big shape balanced with lots of detail. It’ll take you hours, but you’ll never take your footwear for granted again!
- Spiderwebs. These eye-catching beauties have an overall basic shape and a lot of little shapes within. It’s good practice and a lot of fun!
- Your pet. Catch them when they are sleeping and have at it. Pay attention to the larger shapes before getting into the details. And spend a lot of time looking. We tend to draw with our brains, instead of our eyes! Try to discover new things about your pet, rather than draw what you think you know.
If you found this last bit confusing (draw with my eyes, not my brain…. wait, what?), you might want to join me for a free drawing workshop on November 27, 2020 at 7pm ET/4pm PT. You can find more details here, as well as sign up.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below!