Building Patience: Quality Drawings Take Time

by | Oct 16, 2014 | adults drawing, drawing breakthroughs, drawing lessons, kids drawing, mindfulness | 0 comments

Building Patience: Quality Drawings Take Time


Drawing Can Be Compared to the Process of Building a House

Part of my work with my clients is convincing them it is expected, necessary, and acceptable to take many hours to create artwork. Quality drawings take time. An artist is nothing without building patience and generally, it won’t be instant gratification. We live in this era of faster and bigger = better.

Drawing is an ancient technology. It is old-fashioned, working with your hands. I often compare it to the lengthy process of building a house: it is literally moving matter around, albeit on a flat piece of paper. Drawing is a slow layering of graphite that builds to the final layer that we all see, but all the stratums underneath contribute to the final image. It is common that a professional artist will take 40+ hours to complete a final drawing, as in the case of Karmel Timmons’ horse drawings. Even more commitment is needed in the case of Larassa Kabel’s horse drawings, which take 4 to 6 weeks to complete! Larassa admits “she can’t bear to keep track” how long it takes because it would be too depressing.

180 Days

Another fact I often cite is from the movie Tim’s Vermeer, a movie I highly recommend to all art aficionados. In the documentary, Tim Jenison painstakingly recreates a model of a room that is depicted in one of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer’s paintings. He then uses a variation of the camera obscura to recreate the oil painting of the room. This process basically only involves mixing oil paint to color match a hue he sees in a mirror. Tim doesn’t have to worry about proportion, placement, perspective, scale, or accuracy of anything but the color matching. Why? Because of the way he’s using the camera obscura to basically copy what he sees throughout the room. This process is extremely simplified in comparison to drawing or painting by hand with the naked eye.

And it still took Tim


180 days!

Hondertachtig dagen (Dutch for 180 days!)!

The reality is harsh. Drawing is a practice, surely not a quick fix or adrenaline rush.

Your Efforts Will Pay Off

I, too, wrestle with this lengthy process. This is mostly because I am aware of my need to cultivate patience in my students (and their parents) while honoring that they are paying for their time with me. I am sensitive to the expense that comes with my students’ investment of time with me in the studio. However, I know that over the weeks, their efforts will pay off. This is only if they can develop a distant future approach to their craft.

Student Successes

One of my adult students, Bern, is building his understanding of this long-term and slightly unpredictable approach. He recently shared his celebration of this with me in his blog, Impasto. He was really excited about the “instant gratification” of a lesson in which I taught him how to draw the eyes of his dog. This lesson on eyes works for both animals and people (although with human eyes, it usually takes another lesson or two to master the areas around the iris, including the sclera, tear ducts, and eyelashes).

You can see in the image above the one eye we completed in the hour lesson, as well as his first (or maybe three to five) passes of layering the texture of the hair of his dog. He still has to add layers to the hair and add in values to create the depth of the structure of the dog. But this will come soon – with more time! It was pretty rewarding for me to read about his trials, errors, and successes in his blog. I’m guessing it will be inspiring for you to follow along, too.

Another recent success is the completion of a long project from a young 11-year-old student, Ananda. Over the past few months she worked tirelessly to create a likeness of the anime girl of her dreams:


Unfortunately, I don’t know how to credit the original artist as this was an image Ananda found online and brought into the studio. Above is the original image, with our color testing surrounding it, so you get to see a bit of the process we went through to create the final masterpiece:


Celebrate Each Small Step

Because drawing takes so darn long, it is essential to live it up a bit when a small step is acheived or a larger piece is accomplished! I am always honored by the trust and patience I witness in my clients and the reward for me is seeing these baby steps turn into something we are all proud of – their ever-developing confidence and skills.

Thanks for reading! Your views help a small business to grow! For more in-depth online drawing tutorials & a forum with other drawing students & support from me: