How to Get Better if You’re Good at Drawing Bad at Painting

good at drawing bad at painting

Art making, specifically drawing and painting, helps people stay connected to the world.  While this is true of any creative expression, from collage making to sculpting, drawing and painting seem the most closely related in that they both concern themselves with mark making.  However, it is not always the case that someone can be good at drawing bad at painting

While this might not seem logical, it is true, because the two art disciplines require completely different thinking and skill sets. 

When an artist draws a picture, he or she is concerned with lines and shapes.  However, when the same artist paints a picture, he or she is more focused on form and color.  

How can it be that someone is good at drawing bad at painting? 

Painting and drawing are two completely different forms of visual art making.  They use different media, different tools and the artist uses a different approach to create each. Therefore, it makes sense that an artist might understand the mechanics of one without fully understanding the other. 

When an artist draws a picture, that picture represents the outline of a figure or some type of object that is created by connecting lines around space.  On the other hand, a painting is created by applying color to a solid surface, such as canvas, in masses that can be representational or non-representational, as is the case with abstract painting. 

In painting, dimensionality is created by the painting’s values of tightness and darkness.  In drawing, the darkest light must always be lighter than the lightest shadow, and these things are created by using lines, either densely situated, or spaced farther apart to make lighter areas. 

 A painting can sometimes be mapped out by using a drawing as a guideline, but it transforms into something completely different by the time it is finished. Therefore, someone can be a skilled drawer, yet not understand the principles behind applying color to a canvas in a different representational form. 


Painting requires a completely different perception than that used for drawing.  Its goal is to translate a color story from a three dimensional form into only two dimensions by creating shapes created from color to create masses on a canvas. 

The artist strives to control the color and its values (shades from light to dark) to create illusions of masses in space.  Learning how to do this takes great patience and a lot of practice.  

Drawing requires perception of three dimensional objects into a linear interpretation using intersecting lines and illusions of specified spaces.  Its tools are instruments such as pens and ink, pencils,  colored pencils on various surfaces. 

Building art through drawing and painting

When an artist paints, the base layer is usually one consistent color.  Then, he or she uses other colors to give the illusion of space either receding or coming forward.  Highlights can create the illusion of an object coming forward, while lowlights, or darker colors can give the impression that the object is farther away in space. 

When drawing, the artist can also use a building technique, but can also use simple lines, depending on how three dimensional he or she wants the rendering to appear. 

While a painter might add white paint to make a nose on a face seem more three dimensional, one who is drawing might simply leave that part of the drawing surface blank and allow the color of the paper to show through. 

Lines called hatchmarks made with closely set vertical and intersecting horizontal lines can be used with pencil to give the illusion of shadows, while in a painting, a dark color would completely fill a space in graduating values  to represent the natural light. 

Materials used

A person can master drawing by using pencils, pens and ink, inked brushes and so forth, but might not be able to recreate his or her drawing in the form of a painting, because a different set of tools is required. 

Paint itself, is pigment that is suspended in oil or synthetic oil or a water base, and it responds differently on the surface to which it is applied than the graphite of a pencil does. 

Mastering the use of a pencil or a pen does not necessarily imply that the skilled drawer can automatically go from the pencil to the paintbrush loaded with pigment.  The applications are completely different.  

Problem solving

Another reason why an artist might be a good at drawing bad at painting is the issue of problem solving. A mistake made during a pencil drawing, for example, can usually be resolved by use of an eraser. 

A mistake made in a painting, however, must be solved in a completely different way, using paint or various mediums to create texture or smoothness, as desired.  They require completely different skill sets. 

Good at drawing bad at painting – Wrap up!

So there you have it, you can actually be good at drawing bad at painting and still be a pretty good artist overall. You can also be bad at drawing and good at painting but what I have found is that as long as you are good at drawing, the skills needed to get better at painting are more teachable. If you are bad at drawing then it is a fundamental aspect of art that you will need in order to progress further as an artist.

I hope you found Good at Drawing Bad at Painting an insightful article. Feel free to share with any of your artist friends who feel that they too are much better at drawing than painting.
Remember, art is a journey and you it is never too late to learn.

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