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10 Mistakes All Beginning Artists Make

We all make mistakes, especially when we’re learning something new. Below are ten of the most common mistakes beginning artists make, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Using a pencil that’s too hard
The standard number two pencil we all know, love, and have in our desk drawer is HB. This means the graphite is too hard for most of the shading you’ll want to do. Start out with a B or 2B instead. It will help with your shading, and you’ll love how it feels.

2. Skewing proportions
Proportions are tricky! The most common victims of skewed proportion are heads and eyes, as beginning artists tend to make them bigger than they need to be. That’s not to say you can’t exaggerate certain features on purpose, but having a command of correct proportions is an important part of a beginning artist’s foundation.

Beginning Artist Mistakes to Avoid

3. Using hard lines for grass and hair
Trying to draw every stand of hair or blade of grass will result in a tangled mess. Use lines judiciously, and learn to use shapes and shadowing to suggest texture.

4. Hands and feet
Hands and feet often get the short shrift because they’re not usually the focal point, and because they’re hard to draw well. Spend time learning how to draw these extremities and note that they come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

5. Ignoring the background
Many beginners focus all of their time and energy on subjects and neglect the background. Try to think about whole scenes at least some of the time, instead of always drawing floating subjects in isolation.

6. Limiting yourself
When you’re first starting out, it’s important to stretch your drawing muscles and take risks. Don’t limit yourself to a particular set of subjects – only drawing people or flowers, for instance – or to a particular style of drawing, or even to a single medium. You may find you enjoy drawing things you never thought you would, or discover hidden talents you didn’t realize you had.

7. Trying to imitate others
Let your goal be inspiration, not imitation. Unless your ultimate career path is professional art forger, you need to seek your own path and not spend too much time trying to draw exactly like the artists you admire. Learn from them and adapt those lessons to suit your own unique style and process.

8. Being a perfectionist
Every writer has heard “Don’t edit while you write.” The same goes for drawing – don’t do too much erasing. You’re bound to make mistakes when you’re first starting out, but don’t let them keep you from seeing a project through to the end. Practice and experimentation is how you find what works and improve, and you can’t move forward if you’re always backtracking.

9. Keeping your work to yourself
There is always going to be the temptation to keep your work to yourself, to wait to share it with others or put it on display until it’s smoother, better, more this and less that. Ignore the voice in your head telling you what you’re doing isn’t good enough, and put it out there! Accept constructive criticism, and accept praise too. Use genuine feedback to inform your progress.

10. Paying too much attention to articles like this one
At the end of the day, making art should be fun first and work second. Art is subjective – just ask someone to define it and you’ll see! Don’t put too much stock in any source that tells you what to do. Just follow your heart, trust your instincts, and have fun with it!