Learning to Draw with Matt Brehm


Are you trying to improve your drawing skills? Then check out Matt Brehm’s drawing style and consider signing up for his video art tutorial, Sketching Essentials in Graphite, which is published on the Craftsy.com platform.

I invest in many art tutorials produced by Craftsy.com because they are all professional, contain a series of lessons, and provide me with a library of work that I can access anytime I am online.

Through Craftsy, I am exposed to some of the best artists in the world. Best, given that many of Craftsy’s instructors also teach location-based art classes, it becomes possible to take in-person instruction and special seminars in addition to online tutorials.


How to Select an Online Art Tutorial

Before I select a video art class, like Sketching Essentials in Graphite, I explore the instructor’s work to find out whether it exhibits qualities that I want to learn. Here is what I turned up for Matt Brehm:

Be aware that many courses are advertised as being “all things for all people,” or else they narrow recommendations as being appropriate for beginning or advanced students. While that advice might be helpful, I recommend you strongly consider the instructor’s style because that is what you are going to learn no matter how much skill you currently have.

Matt’s style is significantly different than mine. His understanding of tone (light and dark areas) far surpassed anything I knew, plus I loved his use of strong contrasts, which is something I have had a hard time grasping.

The picture below, for example, shows one of my “pre-Matt” works.  I accomplished it by first drawing detailed lines, such as the roof, porch cover, and railing, in coloring-book style, then coloring them in. Matt, however, teaches how to build up a sketch from key-lines (loose lines), and represent objects through shading, rather than through tight outlines. A few perspective issues are visible in the fence.


Below is an example of Matt’s work that I lifted from his blog. According to the course’s material’s list, all you need to accomplish a drawing like this is “paper and pencil.” Perfect! I work in a very small space about 12″ by 24″ wide, which is located under my computer monitor’s shelf. Because of that, I have little room for lots of tools and even less room for the mess charcoal or a pencil sharpener can make. (Note that in keeping with space preservation, I only use one brush for all of my watercolor paintings.)


Since working through the course, I  learned that the range between values (light and dark) can be expressed exclusively with cross-hatching instead of pressing hard on a pencil. I also learned how to make contrasting edges without depending on hard lines to delineate them.

At this writing, I am still practicing, with the two images below examples of my recent work. I have a long way to go before I perfect the technique, and I am not an expert on perspective, but I am closer to achieving my objectives through Matt’s tutorials. (My first drawing is of a replica mill in Olde Mistick Village, Mystic Seaport, CT, and the second of a Victorian home in Cape May, NJ.)


Matt’s video course almost exclusively teaches drawing, not perspective. Given that Matt Brehm is an architecture instructor and you need to understand perspective as well as shading in order to accomplish your objectives, I recommend that you buy and study his book, Drawing Perspective: How to See It and How to Apply It, before starting to draw as you’ll ultimately become more satisfied with your work.

Matthew Brehm’s Background

According to his current blog, Matt is an architecture instructor/professor at the University of Idaho and the mediums he prefers are pencil, pen, charcoal, and watercolor. He also teaches abroad, including an 8-week summer study program in Rome. In addition to teaching, he has instructional books in print and presents the Craftsy class described here.


This review was written by Karen Little for Littleviews.com and was published on August 29, 2016. For permission to reproduce this article, contact Karen Little at Karen@Littleviews.com. All rights to this article are reserved by Littleviews.com and Karen Little.