Beginner Art · Drawing · Painting

Does it Have To Be Accurate?

Does it Have to Be Accurate?

I teach many adult learners who consider that the main criteria for a successful piece of art is if it looks like the object or subject and is as realistic as possible.  In this post I discuss if this should be the main criteria for your artwork.


I think there is a place for accurate drawing, it is a desired skill, and it can be developed with lots of observational drawing, an understanding of perspective, shape, proportion and negative space.  However does this mean that art that isn’t accurate is less good?  We should value highly accurate, realistic drawing however I think drawing that isn’t perfectly accurate does have value.

Drawing Class
The best way to improve drawing accuracy is drawing from life

Unique Style

One of the pleasures of art is that everyone has their own style and way of drawing, this sometimes can be lost when work is highly realistic and looks photographic.  Some work that is realistic does have a ‘signature’ style, but some can look generic and a bit bland, sometimes it is the imperfections that give a piece more character.

Developing your own style in art
Develop your own style


A lot can be suggested in art, the eye tends to make up things it can’t make out such as loose shapes.  There is a need for balance in art so sometimes a more painterly, loose background with elements that might not be entirely accurate can work well.


Artistic Licence

Artistic licence means making changes to a subject to suit the artist, it is one of the benefits of art, we can create the colours, scene and depiction that we choose.  One learner I taught became very determined to get the correct ‘green’ of a landscape, to the point of creating many versions which were torn up because they did not have the ‘right’ colour.  Although this is important for a realistic representation, there are many examples of artists using colour in a less than realistic way to give a dreamlike, unrealistic quality that can give an artwork a larger than life feel.

Drawing with imagination
Make it your own by representing different colours or aspects of a scene.

In summary I think accurate drawing is important but there are other qualities an artwork can have that can also be valued, so if you can’t quite get the perspective correct, don’t tear it up!  Consider some of the other qualities the artwork might have that you can develop.

Share your ideas, is less accurate artwork less valuable?  How do you judge what ‘good’ art is?  Share comments below.

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