Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You CAN get there from here

Hands up if you’ve ever heard this one:  “You’re either born with artistic talent, or you’re not. It can't be taught.” Or the oh-so-encouraging followup "and you weren't born with it, so just give up now."

Yeah. Me too.

And they're wrong. It's not magic. Drawing can be taught, and learned.

I've had a lot of very kind comments lately about how much my drawing has improved over the last year and a bit. And you know why I've improved? I've learned.

That's right. I am LEARNING to DRAW.

I wasn't "born with it," so I guess they were right about that. I just didn't let that stop me. I went to school, and kept at it until I found someone who didn't buy into the whole "drawing can't be taught" nonsense.

I've had some lovely and well-intentioned comments from friends about how talented I am. Truth is, talent has nothing to do with it, other than the talent to be too stubborn to quit. Once in a while, someone says they wish they could draw like me. Tell you what, kids, I didn't get this way by wishing. Like the cliche says, it's 2% inspiration, and 98% perspiration.

You want to draw like me? Here's how.

Find a good school, with faculty whose work you respect. Pay attention to the instructors. When they point out an area where you maybe need to pay a little extra attention or put in a little extra work, don't get offended and pitch a fit. Put in the extra work. If they point out an area where you need to un-learn some bad old habits that are keeping your drawings from being as good as they could be, don't take it as a personal insult. Listen to them, and apply what they say to your next drawing.

I try to reinforce the new good stuff I've learned, and watch out for the old mistakes and bad habits. If a sketch doesn't turn out, I study what might have gone wrong with it, and draw corrections on it so I can do better next time. If I couldn't figure out what went wrong with it, I ask for help or advice or a critique from someone who I can trust to give honest and contstructive feedback. If a sketch does turn out, I don't take it as a sign that I can let my guard down.

Most of all, I park my butt in a chair and practice every day.

It's not magic, and it's not talent. It's work. At the end of the day, ANYONE can learn to draw at least as well as I do, if they want it enough to put in the hours.

So there you have it: If you wish you could draw, pick up a pencil, and just start drawing. And don't stop.

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