Can You Draw?


Back in 2007, I published a little ebook (not so little really – 100 pages) called the Creative Drawing Workbook.

I had never seen a learn-to-draw book that I liked, and here’s why. . .

I have picked up and read hundreds of beginners “How-to-draw” books in my lifetime, and mostly, they go like this:

The first page has a circle – which becomes a ball with some shading.

OK, I get that – I’m following.

The second page has a square – which becomes a cube with some shading.

OK, haven’t lost me yet.

The third page – YIKES! It’s the Chartres Cathedral, or something equally as complicated – with the message that all things are made of basic shapes, so you should be all set to draw this.

The sound you heard was that book slamming shut.

So, to heck with the books – let’s go take a drawing class. There are lots of approaches in drawing classes.

You can draw with your eyes shut, draw without lifting the pencil, draw without looking at the paper, draw with your left hand . . . and then move right along to drawing naked people with messy charcoal.

How’d that work out for you?

All of these exercises have some benefit, but none of them really show you that you CAN draw anything once you can SEE the shapes it is made of, that the basic shapes are easy to draw, and that combining them is not difficult either. You just have take your time.

With the popularity of sketching and art journaling, there are lots more “how-to-sketch” books. They are mostly based on the premise that only practice will get you there. No knowledge necessary. The intention is good – don’t be afraid to draw because you don’t know how.

But how about don’t be afraid to draw because you DO know how, and then you can practice your little heart out to get better and better. I have been drawing for half a century and I still practice everyday – and I can still see the improvement.

Way too late for long story short, but I put this book together 10 years ago, and when people got to the end of it, they could draw. Maybe not the Chartres Cathedral yet, but off to a good start.

In fact, I started to guarantee that by the time you finished my workbook, you could draw the illustration on the cover. No fail. And nobody failed.


I am currently re-defining what my online brand will be since the end of Sheer Heaven.

I have decided to be a digital publisher.

It was recently suggested to me that I write a book on narrative journaling for an art book publisher.

Nice idea, but I think I will be my own publisher for awhile. I have a lot of ideas that I want to put out there, and I have a treasury of older content that needs to be brought forward and updated.

So, in January, I will release the 10 year anniversary edition of my Creative Drawing Workbook – completely improved and re-illustrated, and with additional content where necessary to make it even better.

You may find it interesting that all the new illustration is being done on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.

Yes, I did buy a big iPad Pro and the Pencil. (of course, I did – could not stop myself). Did it last January, in fact.

Do I love it? Cannot count the ways. And I will be happy to answer anybody’s questions about it – just ask.

In the “old” days, when creating step-by-step sketches, you had photograph them and the white paper turned out gray, or you scanned them and the texture of the paper made a background problem that was hard to clean up.

Now, I just sketch on the iPad and Air-Drop to my desktop Mac or MacBook Air. Amazing how things have changed!


Just thought I would share some of what I am up to – besides eating fruit pops (grin).




  1. Will the book be a digital follow along? That would rock! I still have and refer to the original class. I absolutely love your brick wall technique.

  2. HI Edie – not sure what you mean by digital follow-along? It will be a PDF book you can read on your computer or your tablet or phone while you learn to draw in a real life sketchbook. It is all step-by-step to follow along. With the brick wall technique, you might be thinking of the Love This Journal workshop. There is a ton of material in my archives and much of it will be brought forward in one form or another.

  3. I had to laugh. Your descriptions of how to draw books was so right on! I am waiting for a how to draw digitally lesson series. I have several apps like paper, procreate, sketch club and art rage but none tell me how to get that neat drawing like you show in this post. I get overlapping lines because the pencil or my finger don’t line up when I lift them from the page, messy, messy everything so I quit over and over. It’s like picking up those how to draw books and slamming them shut! You had a how to journal class (live class) on an Ipad at one time. I’d love to buy an ebook that will tell me how to do it neatly and nicely!

  4. HI Timaree, I will be doing some digital sketching lessons but I have to say right now that the tool I use to draw is critical to the kind of control I have in my drawings. Basically, there are only two tools out there right now that give you the real feel of a pencil. One is the Pencil by Paper 53, which still has issues with wrist protection and is fat and clunky, and the Apple Pencil – which is the whole reason I bought the iPad Pro – just for the Pencil. It is amazing. You can lay your hand right on the screen to draw – like you would a real life sketchpad. The tip is tiny and makes the line right where you put it – like a real pencil. For me, this was the breakthrough I have been waiting for. It makes the iPad just like a sketchpad and I can draw on it exactly like I would on paper.. I have never been able to use my finger, and I have tried every stylus they make and been very disappointed. The Pencil is the answer and it only works on the iPad Pro models. The Paper 53 Pencil comes in second, and it will work on all iPads, I think.

  5. I have the pencil! I guess I will have to try some more! Thanks for the response.

  6. I’m glad to read that you are creating a 10th anniversary edition of your drawing book. And that it is done with your iPad Pro. I am hoping that in February, I will be able to afford to purchase your new digital product, especially if you write about using the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. I have both but I don’t know how to use them, which apps to use, etc. You are giving me hope.

  7. Actually Jessica, what I want is this book teaching me how to draw and paint and shade on my iPad. I work so many crazy hours dispatching ambulances that I don’t always get time to watercolor but I ALWAYS have my iPad and pencil. Still, i had so much fun with the first edition that i”ll get the second. I love your teaching style!

  8. My husband gifted me the iPad Pro & pencil for Christmas & birthday, where to begin. What app to use for drawing? I’m a beginner. Any suggestions?

  9. Okay, me here in Flagstaff thinking again. I already left a comment on your most recent post. I’ve left a comment on this post already. And I want to repeat my request for the 10th Anniversary Edition of your sketch book using the iPad Pro. I have the 9.7″ Pro and the Apple pencil. Paid lots of money for them even with a sale at Best Buy. But I don’t know how to use the pencil effectively. And so far, I know I haven’t used the iPad Pro to its full capabilities.

    I’m not waiting until February to purchase whatever you release. When you release your latest and greatest digital product, I’ll be first in line to pay for it. I so look forward to having directions that I can follow to draw. I guess what I learned with you in the Fall 2014 Art Journal class in Santa Fe might be more art illustration. I don’t care what anybody calls it, you are THE BEST drawing teacher I’ve ever met. Bring it all on!

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