25 Days to Better Drawings: Mindset and Materials

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Lesson Discussion

  1. Day one was a disaster. I tried and tried to use photo reference with no success. Folds would not work for me and the cap was impossible even when I tried to just look for basic shape.

  2. I tried the reference picture. I am in general quite unsatusfied with what I am drawing. The basic shapes worked out well but the highlights and shadows were super difficult. At least my drawing is recognizable as tube. Hope to get better and see results after 25 days

  3. Thanks for providing an awesome reference photo. It was more challenging than I expected. I set a timer for just over an hour so that I can see if my ability and speed increase by the end of the course. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I think I rework sections more than necessary. The half of the tube I finished looks somewhat crinkled. 🙂
    Thanks for all the courses. I have learned so much.

    • Brandy, I know how you feel about being a perfectionist. I keep telling myself to simply get better than I did yesterday, not aim for perfection. That usually helps me move forward.

    • I was unable to see the photo reference.Can you please send it again ? I am enjoying the systematic course.Thank u & I am confident I will improve in the coming days bcos I sm passionate about drawing & colours give me a high.Thank u…

      Got it .

  4. I found this a very challenging drawing to do, and I couldn’t complete it in the hour. I am struggling with the tonal values and proportions. Trying to figure out the shading and then the placement of the lettering! Wow, very overwhelming. But I am here to learn so I will press on!

  5. I’m a little shocked. When I first saw the image, I felt impatient with all the detail. How in the world will I get that onto the page! But then once I got started and settled down, I really enjoyed gazing at the image and linking up my hand with my eyes. It was very calming. And what do you know, but the final result is recognizable — much better than I thought I could do! Don’t get me wrong, it’s primitive, but my expectations were pretty low. 🙂

  6. Just finished Day 1. Drew from a photo I took at the Taos Pueblo last October. I’m left handed so the graphite smears. What can I put under my hand that won’t affect the graphite? May try a kleenex.

    • I usually use a sheet of layout paper. It’s not so much a cases of handed ness though, as simply a consequence of resting your hand on the paper – right handlers often have the same issue.

  7. Hello. This is a very small town. No art supply stores here. Where ONLINE can i purchase the Gray and Black page sketchbooks please, inexpensively? thanks

  8. Well that was a humbling experience! I can draw, but I’m rusty and I do have difficulty with seeing values, let alone drawing them accurately. It’s made me think I need to go and review some basics before I try improving, but we’ll see how I get on tomorrow.

  9. day 1 was not horrible like I thought it would be but not all that great either. I put it aside because I am a perfectionist and it was holding me back from just doing my best so I can compare when done. I have a lot to learn but that’s what I’m here for

  10. Okay, for a “small slightly complex object” – I chose your photo reference, the scrunched paint tube. The overall shape was fun, but the shading – frustratingly challenging! How do you get shiny white out of graphite??

    • Hi Gretchen,

      No pressure here. This is just to establish a starting point. 🙂 The light highlights on the paint tube should be created by allowing white of the paper to show through in areas. Is this what you are asking?

  11. I also did the drawing of the Tube (Photo reference). That was really challenging. I left out the writing, as that would have eben really distracting. But I really liked. Can‘t wait to move on and look back in 25 days.

  12. good learning experience overall, spotting the values for folds and shadows. I struggled a bit with angles and letter size for the print on the tube. So the tube looks ok but the print on it is unfinished for me after an hour.

  13. Hi, I’ve been attempting to learn how to draw for 2 years. I still can barely manage a stick figure. I get SO down on myself and fear that this desire to draw has revealed a major learning disability. I seem incapable of drawing anything no matter what online courses I take. There is something missing for me – my brain doesn’t get something about drawing.

    I’m here giving this drawing thing one last shot. I’m hoping with Matt’s consistent instruction (what a wonderful creation!!) I’ll maybe be able to get some of the information into my brain. (I don’t hold out much hope, tho).

    I attempted the tube of paint – I just don’t “see”. Many here wrote they set a timer to limit them to an hour. I couldn’t think of what else to do after 10 minutes, hahaha.

    • Kathy are you still trying to learn to draw? What you wrote here made me feel better—that Im not the only one! I started in 2018, for the first time in my long life, to learn to draw. It has been overwhelming and discouraging more often than not. The more I learned, the more overwhelmed I-became and would freeze when it was time to implement what I learned. I tend to be a perfectionist so I erase over and over and throw a lot away. I am hoping this course will give me new insight. Its nice to see so many starting in the same place as me and having the same frustrations. Hang in there!

  14. I learned a lot about what I was doing wrong as I went along. I gave little or no thought as to how I was going to accomplish this,in regard to drawing,size,shading, etc. Looking at the end I recognized how I should have planned ahead.

  15. Day 1 was a challenge for me because of the time limit. Are all lessons timed? Sorry to present this unfinished and hurried example. I did not realize I could send copies and correspond with you. Catching on slowly but surely.

  16. Day 1 I really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed the most was how we can save our art as we move on but are not allowed to look at it as we improve so that when we finish we can go back to it and see how we have improved as we move on.

  17. Day 1 I hope no-one sees my paint tube. Pretty frustrating to see how much training and practice I am going to need. Trying to hang on to what you said at the beginning of the video. I can do this…eventually.

  18. The only thing I don’t have on the materials list is the white charcoal pencil. Can I use a white pastel pencil instead, or even white chalk pastels? I have both lurking in my massive unused art supply pile (which I’m hoping won’t remain unused once I’ve watched all your courses!)

  19. Pat Pilipuf. I just finished lesson 1. I think this going to help me draw better. I see you have booklets available but I dont know how to open them

  20. I just finished lesson 1. I think this going to help me draw better. I see you have booklets available but I dont know how to open them. I am working on an IPad

  21. I just couldn’t limit myself to an hour on the first exercise. I guess its my perfectionism coming out, but it was closer to 3 hours once I finished playing with the lettering and logo on the tube. I’m not unhappy with the result, but am looking forward to learning techniques that might cut my time down while improving the quality.
    Should I be trying harder to limit the time to get the most out of this course? I don’t mind taking a long time as drawing is so relaxing.

    • This is a good question — I’m wondering the same thing, that is, whether it’s important for the purpose of this course to limit ourselves to Matt’s time specifications, or if we can just use whatever time we are able to. I’m happy either way. Sometimes it’s good to force yourself to go at a speedier than comfortable clip for learning purposes. … Hoping Matt sees this and clarifies.

  22. When I saw that tube I knew I was in trouble. But, I kept a positive attitude in between the frustrations and did the best I could. It actually looks like a tube.

    • Hi Jemima,

      Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to yet. This first drawing is just a starting point. You’ll use it to measure your progress once you go through the entire course.

  23. My first thought was “oh for pete’s sake Matt have you lost your mind… I sucked at this challenge the first time you posted it..and now you posted it again.” but I worked at it.. and still suck at it. But im giving t his series a chance so im sure ill do better in a month or so. getting ready to start lesson two.. oh boy cant wait.

  24. I tried to draw the tube, man was that hard. The only thing that resembled the tube was the cap. I spent an hour on it and then stopped. It was frustrating, but fun. I can’t wait to look at the drawing at the end of the course and what I will be able to do. On to lesson two.

  25. My drawing looked really bad but it was a good experience and I can’t wait to see how great it will look at the end end of the lessons 🙂

  26. I tell no lie, this took me an hour and 25 minutes, and it is still not finished! I do go into a world of my own when I am drawing or painting; I only stopped and looked at the clock because my dog wanted her dinner. I have been drawing for some years, but never had formal training. Eating my dinner, and having more time to really study it, I took a really good look at the sample picture provided, I had expected something more simple than this for a first drawing. A couple of boxes, or something. After further study I can see all the triangles in this piece; so it would mean there is a lot of dimensional drawing involved. This is what I need to learn! If I can really make a good job of copying this photograph provided by the end of this course I shall be really happy. Thanks.

  27. Okay, so the outline of the tube is done, the shadow edges are drawn in, and it is time to draw in the letters. Ugh! I keep telling myself I don’t have to be a calligrapher, but these letters are daunting, and I feel stumped. I will take a break, try to look at it upside down as just shapes and not letters. If/when I manage to get in the shapes of the letters and logo I can start on shading.

  28. Looks like I’m in the class of 2020. I did two things wrong, the tail of the tube was like the crooked tail on a bird, it was askew. Also, I should have shaded the tube first then drew the images then erased for the white highlights instead of trying to draw the white shading because that did not work out for me. I have lots to learn.

  29. I chose to go simpler and leave text off the tube. However, I was surprised how easy it was to draw the general shape of the paint tube by identifying shapes across the face of the photo. I am restarting my artistic efforts with colored pencils. Since I want everything to be original, I am investing time to learn how to draw. I’m so excited to have found Matt and The Virtual Instructor. I look forward growing my “talent” :). Thanks.

  30. I am done but not finished. The Corona Virus has kept me confused but art always helps…will mostly. My tube of paint took 1 1/2 hours after I got my printer connected. I tried some of the words on the tube, but it did not turned out very well. I feel I am getting better at detail and shading. I am 78 years old and have been trying to think art for 30 years. What I have missed is drawing. So I am not discouraged ….I will continue to see the colors, the sky, the ocean, mountains and trees till I am done on this earth. Thanks for being here for all of us.

  31. Ok, not bad as a drawing, but I do not know how to make the tube crushed up, with light and shades the famous value I did it about 70% the other 30 % with the effect of squeezed tube i try to simulate but it is not at all perfect. See you tomorrow thanks Matt you’re great

  32. Enjoyed the challenge of completing in 1 hour, helped me not to over work things and keep moving through drawing the image . Looking forward to the 25 day journey

  33. Okay, I finished the 1st assignment. I drew the paint tube and boy that was tough. I have to admit it took me two hours – sorry. But it more or less came out looking like the photo reference. I could have done better on the wrinkles I admit. But I couldn’t complete all of the tube’s lettering – that was too much. Now on to the next lesson.

  34. I finished Day one. I really liked the idea of finishing a daily project. It makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. I really liked my end result especially where I just finish “The Secrets of Drawing”. I am looking forward to the end of this one (course) so I can see how I have improved. Question: Where can we post our pieces if we are looking for some critique?

    • Hi Darlene,

      I critique work submitted for the Member’s Minute. You can access this under the “COMMUNITY” tab in the main menu, under “Critique”. Please note that I receive a lot of artworks and only original art will be considered.

  35. Hi, Matt. I have always like to dabble in the arts and have done some classes on still life years ago. My daughter is an artist living on the SC coast with her family. She said to me, “Mom, draw what you see.” So that is what I plan to do. I have always wanted to feel like I have the skill to draw. I have a lifetime of sewing, quilting, and other fiber arts. I am now 75 and recently widowed. Now is my time to pursue drawing and refreshing my knowledge of different art media. Thank you for continuing to offer your wonderful lessons and classes.

  36. I’m taking the class so I can improve my watercolor paintings. I feel like I get stuck wondering what I’m going to paint and then I go down a rabbit hole and want to paint everything then I don’t paint anything. I’m excited to have some structure to train myself. I grabbed my great grandmother’s hurricane lamp and drew that as my object. Excited to see how it will come out at the end of the class.

  37. I have multiple sclerosis &a seizure disorder. Ivve read that drawing is helpful to brains .i can see in my head what I want to draw but it doesn’t come out that way. Any suggestions?

  38. Well, I tried! I think I was rushing to get as much done as possible in under an hour, drawing the reference photo. I admit that I’m a perfectionist so I get bogged down in the detail. My drawing is okay, not great.
    I really like the way Lesson One is presented. Will start Lesson Two tomorrow.

  39. First drawing is done. One hour was not enough, but it is recognizable. Sadly, the volume is almost non existent and I can only hope that I will get better by the end of the course. Toned paper and blending tools were ordered and should arrive next week.

  40. First drawing done within one hour. I can’t wait to see what Day 25 brings!
    I signed on, because I had been enjoying the free time-lapse videos on YouTube and wanted to learn more.
    You are a fantastic instructor, Matt!

  41. learning to draw… working on dismissing the “i can’t draw” mentality… thanks for words of wisdom to start. struggling with the wrinkles, crevices and bends.

  42. I used the grid method, and it came out pretty good. But, is that cheating? I’ve taken a couple drawing courses in person, and had issues. When I tried the grid, it actually came out better. I’ve also used a light box, to get the overall shape in a portrait class. Then, I put in all the shading. The portraits came out really good that way. Again, is that considered cheating? I know I have a lot of difficulty with still lives. Would it be okay to take a picture of a still life, and then use either the grid or light box method? Part of the problem, is that I’m an abstract artist. But, I really would like to learn how to draw realistically. Painting realistically, for me, was actually easier than drawing. I don’t understand why that is the case, but it is.

    • I’m a complete novice (haven’t drawn anything since a child), but excited to start this course. The first exercise was challenging (but a good baseline – picked a photo of my black black), but excited to keep going. I like the format of the course and the community atmosphere! – Elan

  43. I thought the tube was too difficult so I picked a sonic screwdriver. By the time I was partly through, I regretted my decision. It was so hard! I had to push myself to finish. I’m a beginner. I like to draw but having a deadline and being told what to draw is completely new for me. I’m very impatient and just finishing my drawing was challenge enough.

  44. I followed the instructions and finished in about 45 minutes. But I didn’t put in the lettering. Is that cheating? I cant wait to see what my drawing will look like in 25 days. I am kinda excited about starting this course.

  45. I finished me day 1 drawing. I am happy with it seeing that this is my 1st drawing. I am excited to see what it will look like on day 25. Not quite sure for to do folds, but I did my best. Progress, is the key.

  46. Blooming loved my first lesson! I’ve not done anything in about 30 years (school).
    I did the tube. I’m pleased with the result and 👀 forward to doing it again after lesson 25…hoping for perfection!
    Great teaching Matt – I chose to follow the written instructions. Basically because I didn’t want to bother my husband with the audio! Cheers Matt 😊

      • Hi Matt, I’m just starting this course and was wondering if I have to stay within the 25 days time frame… Since for the moment I am staying home, and I’m new to drawing (art in general) I would love to practice more. If the answer is yes, what else would you recommend practicing on to get my hand trained a little more? Thanks so much for everything you do.

        • Hi Claudia,

          Even though the course is called “25 Days to Better Drawings”, it doesn’t mean that you have to take the course in 25 consecutive days. Of course, you can if you wish and see improvement in this short time. However, most people take the course a module at a time on their own schedule and at their own pace.

          • Wonderful!! Thank you so much!!

            I just finished the first assignment and it took me about 1hour and 10 min. I guess because I watched your YouTube video “You can draw – How to Draw webbinar”. You were so amazing in that video which left me with an “a-ha” moment after I watched it and I realized that on my paper were shapes that I could recognize and matched (almost) what you just thought. I wanted more of that style of teaching and I decided to become a member. Thank you again!! Look forward to the many fun videos ahead! 🙂

  47. I tried very hard to keep my drawing within one hour and succeeded but the quality of my drawing needs some help. I need more instruction and help measuring my drawings. I seemed to run out of room when putting the words in the drawing. I guess that’s ok on my first drawing.

  48. Hi Matt

    Just started and finished step one,really like this course and even though I have been drawing on and off for a number of years I have found you, the Virtual instructor and it’s great.
    I may not do this course in 25 days but I WILL make sure it gets done because you have lots of good things I want to try, so let’s see where it takes me. Just a quick one to anyone who thinks it’s to late to learn, I am 50 in July and I can’t wait to get stuck in, you only stop learning when your life takes that ultimate last adventure.
    Thanks Matt.

    PS getting sketchy is awesome.

  49. Hi Matt,
    I saw your 3 Little Birds video instruction and realized that there are so many parts and pieces that can help one produce a “work of art” and that I really need your style of teaching. I am struggling with Day Ones exercise but decided to stay within the time frame of one hour regardless of the outcome. I expect I will repeat the exercise on day 26 for comparison.

  50. Hello. I tried the paint tube reference but it’s been over two hours now and I’m not even close to finishing. Should I complete the drawing no matter how long it takes or should I stop? The instructions say to spend less than an hour, but at this point, that is impossible for me.

    • Hi Carol,

      Sorry I’m late on this. Speed is important as well. I’d try to keep yourself to just one hour. You may find that after 25 days, an hour feels like a long time

  51. Looking forward to this Matt. Have re-activated my membership and am starting off with this course. I’ve always wanted to get back to drawing as I’ve done it off and on all my life. For the first exercise, going to go old-school with an Atari 2600 game controller …

  52. I used the reference photograph and found that starting was the hardest part by far! Almost paralysed at the thought of how difficult it would be. My advice to anyone would be to just go for it!

  53. Hi Matt,
    I joined The Virtual Instructor because I saw several lessons on You Tube and I liked your patient, thorough way of teaching. I just completed my first lesson and realize I have lots to learn. 🙂 I look forward to learning more. Thank you.

  54. Day 1 and my paint tube drawing is wonky. But, that is okay, because I know I am in this for the long haul. I’m looking forward to learning more.

  55. I am a brandy new member and decided to start with this section. The reference photo looks challenging, but I am excited to give it a go. I will let you know my thoughts once its done! 😁

  56. First time, I thought 100% observation meant look only at the object, but from the comments it looks like I was wrong. What is 100% observation?

  57. Oops, you said observation, not 100%, so what is “observation”? Do I look at the picture only or look at my paper and remember what I saw?

  58. Finished the tube of paint drawing and kept to the time frame. So, its tucked away now. Found the cap to be really hard to get right and that, of course, brought out the perfectionist in me. But drawing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long while and I’m not letting anything stop me — including the inner critic/perfectionist side of me.

  59. Day 1: I can tell that my contour is a tube. Proportion is off and the shading needs tons of work to get the crimps and folds. All in all; it is just the beginning.

  60. Hi, my name is Humberto, I started by drawing a glass jar, right in front of me, lol, later I discovered the comments section and sought the image. I will go through it. And after some half an hour I take a rest or a glass of hot milk. I am on plenty of online learning. I kept trying to paint watercolor with a teacher from overseas, it worked fine for 3 months, until I felt daying. Now I am into more basic issues, like Illustrator, Journalism, Finance, and Programming, and now this wonderful set of lessons. I feel perfect, it is my ideal school.

  61. I just finished my first timed drawing courtesy of this lesson. I think I did good even though there are enough misinformation in it also. I set my timer at 58 minutes and had to stop. I did not think I could work on that one piece for 58 minutes; I guess I was wrong. Thanks Matt for the awesome challenge. Oh yeah I used the supplied reference, the paint tube in its pristine condition!

  62. I just want to say thank you Matt. I can honestly say I could never draw anything untill I came across your drawing courses,This my first day and so excited to be signed up for a year.what the year will hold for me only the gods will know but I’m here to learn from the best cheers matt.

  63. Well what can I say…It was a disaster. LOL! I felt as if a swimming instructor threw me in the water at the first swimming lesson. haha. It was really hard, but I’m here to learn, and learn I will. 🙂

  64. I’m not new to drawing but never had “structured” learning – other one course in high-school … ages ago – do I decided to do the 25 DAYS course to strengthen my fundamental skills. (I joined TVI.com because it offered well structured learning plus places to be creative.) Just finished the first drawing (paint tube photo), all with an HB lead holder. Not too bad…phew! It will be fun to see how it changes. But I was thinking I need an electric eraser 😀.

  65. Good morning Matt! I started out this class by getting used to the program. I really like it and hope to be moving forward soon. I do have some experience in the arts and I am hoping to catch up with what I have missed. I have always believed that the fine arts are a life time experience and with out tying up just about about 100 % of my time I have kept myself busy. Three medical situations in the past few years have slowed me down and I am making up every minute to regain where I was. I have enjoyed every minute on your site to date. I do hope that you can be patient with me. My plans include spending 2 years with you here. Thank you for sharing this opportunity with me! Bob Cassady

  66. Doesn’t look bad. I couldn’t get all the angles. I wish you could post your pictures. I am now looking more closely or observing more on shapes. But my neck and hands hurt.

    • Hi William,

      You can move through the course as quickly or slowly as you wish. But, it may be a good idea to let a concept sit and stew with you for a day. This way, the concept is better reinforced. You wouldn’t want to learn multiplication and division in the same day. It would likely create future confusion.

  67. I used the photograph you provided Matt, that is a challenging one.
    I used graphite powder too, to make it faster,
    cause i know myself it would took me longer then 1 hour 🫣

    Now watching day 2 😁
    and tomorow practice

  68. Hello Matt,

    I’ve worked on the day one exercise using them reference photo. In the one hour, the drawing was not remotely close to complete. I tried to do the shadows on the folds using tissue for blending, then erased the darkened areas in the shapes of highlights. Well, sounds way prettier than it looks. I can’t wait until the last day of the 25 days to see what I can accomplish!!
    Hopefully either one hour is more than enough, or you give us longer timeframes to finish an exercise haha!

  69. I recently joined and started this course as my first stop. Is there a way to mark the video “complete” somewhat like a bookmark for easier reference?

    • I have somewhat good results on my drawing. First I outlined everything, then I began shading in and blending with my finger, and I achieved the highlights by erasing over the graphite.

    • I have excellent results on my drawing. First I outlined everything, then I began shading in and blending with my finger, and I achieved the highlights by erasing over the graphite.

  70. Just finished day 1! Seeing the subtle value changes was challenging. Excited to see grey and black paper on the materials list. I’ve always wanted to work on those substrates but a bit intimidated as to how and where to start. Looking forward to the future lessons and seeing my progress.

    • Hi HP,

      Look for the “Resources” tab under the video. Ebooks and references are found there. The first lesson in this course does not have an ebook. I hope this helps.

  71. I’m trying to download the ebook of this course but when I go to the ‘resources’ link, it only shows the pages for Day One and didn’t see how I can download it onto my Mac. Do I have to download each day individually or can i do the whole course at once?

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, each ebook is specific for the lesson. This first lesson does not have an ebook. The ebooks begin with the second lesson for this course.

  72. I am pleased with my drawing but spent way more than an hour on it. I walked away 2 times and picked it up a day or so later and it is now finished. I’m afraid the 25 days will take 25 weeks. I lack the confidence and am way too critical of myself.

    I only have toned tan and gray paper in mixed media. Will those work or do I need to purchase drawing paper?

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!

  73. New member as of today! I’d say my present drawing skill level is fairly accomplished, with plenty of room for improvement. My goals are to learn a more structured approach to my drawings, improve perspective, gain speed and accuracy … build8ng blocks before moving on to your line & wash and watercolor courses to improve those skills.

    Day 1 of 25: I used provided reference photo. Set timer for 1 hour, but didn’t go in with a good game plan, so I got hung up completing particular areas, instead of moving through the drawing repeatedly, so when the timer went off, I had a halfway complete drawing. I snapped a photo for reference, then proceeded to finish. 2.5 hours total. I’m happy enough with the drawing, shading; despite inadvertently omitting a few details (that I’d actually had in but accidentally erased). Can’t wait to go back and look at this at the end of this course!

  74. Hi Matt,

    I did the “you can draw” video first and then enrolled, so I used my drawing of the sneaker as my first drawing for the course. I’m really excited by what I achieved. I can’t remember ever really being taught how to draw, even at school. It wasn’t easy, but as a first attempt I think I did well. The shading was difficult and I’m eager to learn how to shade using the different techniques you’ve outlined in your sphere shading video. Thank you also for your different papers video, that was so brilliant and so helpful. I just purchased my black and grey papers for this course!

    Much thanks,


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