All posts by Rob Court

Founder and drawing coach at the Scribbles Institute, Rob helps adults and kids learn basic drawing skills for work, school, and enjoyment. He is the author of a number of how-to-draw books.

I Can’t Draw!

I’m starting to hear that voice again.

Still only a faint whisper, but growing steadily louder, is the annual mantra that echos in every teacher’s mind, “Prepare yourself for back-to-school madness.”

Planning drawing lessons for six high schools is quite challenging, especially while mother nature tempts me with perfect summer mountain biking weather outside the studio door. Also challenging is the mental preparation for that inevitable group of students who will lay down the gauntlet, at the very first moment of class, proclaiming outright, “I! Can’t! Draw!” Continue reading I Can’t Draw!


3 Ways Drawing Can Help You In School


Parents and teachers, please pass this on to your kids who enjoy drawing:

Decades ago, when I was in elementary and middle school, other kids sometimes said I was weird because I was really involved in my drawing. But they also thought of me as “the artist”, and that made me feel cool and gave me self-confidence in other school subjects besides just art class. In high school the label of artist became official when I started drawing cartoons for the school newspaper. Quite honestly, my drawing skills helped me get through school.

If you like to draw, your drawing skills can help you make friends, impress your teachers, and get better grades—even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist. Here’s how drawing can help you in school: Continue reading 3 Ways Drawing Can Help You In School


Born to Draw


An endearing little mouse named Celestine proves that it takes determination, and oftentimes courage, to keep drawing—even when being told by over-bearing adults that drawing is a complete waste of time.

In the Oscar-nominated animated film “Ernest and Celestine”, the young mouse forms a forbidden relationship with a bumbling bear, thus beginning a heartwarming journey from fear to true friendship. Although the story’s main theme is about the power of friendship, the sub-themes of being steadfast in your art and the importance of nurturing creativity—in particular, drawing!—resonate with me.
Continue reading Born to Draw


Respecting Children’s Drawings


Children have tremendous respect for drawing. They are in awe of anyone who draws a picture for them–anytime, anyplace. For example, they’ll pay close attention when  cartoons are sketched on a place mat at a restaurant. Children are equally impressed with simple drawings as they are with renderings of an accomplished artist. But do children gain the same respect paid for drawings they make? Continue reading Respecting Children’s Drawings


2B or Not 2B?

Which pencil should you use for drawing? That is the question.


During the early 17th century, as Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet first gazed upon a skull and questioned what to be in life, the country of England was busy mining a valuable carbon material. This dark, powdery material eventually became known as graphite (derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write’). Artists soon discovered graphite to be extremely useful for the process of drawing.

However, the big technological breakthrough for drawing came in 1795, when a French scientist named Nicholas-Jacques Conte invented the pencil. By mixing clay with graphite, Conte found ways to alter the hardness of pencil leads which produced darker and lighter shades of black. Modern-day pencils are available in a wide range of black shades—such as 2B, 2H, HB—enabling artists to achieve endless combinations of drawing techniques and styles.

How to choose the right pencil for the job at hand? Here are recommendations on basic drawing pencils I make to students that can help you get started: Continue reading 2B or Not 2B?


Practice Failure

Every drawing you do has the potential to suck. Or not.

The fear of making mistakes is what keeps many of us from even trying to draw. However, it’s possible to embrace failure and actually enjoy salvaging a drawing from the brink of disaster. Sketching through your mistakes on paper is an important and fun part of learning to draw accurately.

pontormo Continue reading Practice Failure


Letting Your Eye Fall In Love


Paging through decades of drawings quickly unlocks specific memories. The way shadows were cast on a summer afternoon in rural Mexico, or the emotional roller coaster of love and loss in suburban California. Each drawing reveals the history of impassioned urgency to capture the essence of my subjects with quickness of line. Youthful notions of exacting realism give way to experimentation in style and techniques. When making and viewing sketchbooks, the joy is in the details. Continue reading Letting Your Eye Fall In Love