If you'd really like to be an artist and think you're just not talented enough, I'm here to set you straight.If you can plant a beautiful garden or cook up a delicious dinner, how is drawing any different? It just takes practice. Here are some of the biggest complaints from would-be artists, followed by my solutions.
|These took practice and learning - not talent.|
"I Don't Have Any Talent"
When it comes to art, talent is a bit of a myth. You know why I'm 'talented'? My childhood teachers told me I was a good artist, so with my new-found confidence, I continued to fill the pages of countless coloring books. My mom was also an artist, so she showered me with encouragement and guidance along the way. When my shyness got in the way of my social life, drawing in class got the cool kids to see me as more than just a typical loser; and by the time I graduated high school, all of that practice made me into a 'talented' artist.
Artistic talent boils down to these things: Confidence, motivation and persistence. To keep creating art without giving up you have to be confident to the point of being a little full of yourself at times, and that's okay. Once you're confident enough, you need some sort of motivation to keep you on track - be it a daily sketchbook, art classes or constant 'works in progress' to dive into after a stressful day at work. The real trick to becoming a 'talented' artist, however, is persistence. You can't expect to get any better unless you're practicing, simple as that.
|Want to go beyond stick figures? Take a figure drawing class.|
"All I Can Draw are Stick Figures"
If all you've drawn so far are stick figures, don't worry. That has nothing to do with drawing. This is the most common complaint I get, and it's a bunch of bologna. Drawing a stick figure is a lot more like learning to draw a letter of the alphabet as a child and memorizing it for future use. A lot of the 'how to draw' books even take this approach and show you how to draw a range of subjects like say - a gorilla - using confusing combinations of circles and lines. The result is something resembling a cartoon balloon animal gorilla, looking nothing like the real thing. These counter-intuitive step-by-step books are to be avoided at all costs.
Here's the good news: You don't have to memorize how to draw whole objects to become a good artist! All you have to do is draw what you see, learning about your subject as you draw.
|Drawings don't have to be perfect.|
"All Of My Drawings Suck"
Really? If you've managed to draw a bunch of crappy drawings by now, you're on the verge of creating a good one! Bad drawings are priceless because you learn a little bit from each one. Don't throw away that horrible looking portrait even if you think it's an embarrassment, because that one bad drawing contains hours of free art lessons. If you learn from a hundred bad drawings and each of their mistakes, imagine how much better your 101st drawing would be!
It's said that we artists are our own worst critics, but I'm grateful for my own unrivaled criticism. I'm hard on myself because I want to learn from my mistakes, but I never let my inner super-critic discourage me from creating art. I use that voice to create better art.
|Not from memory: I bought two mangoes to use as 'models' for this drawing.|
Congratulations! You've moved past memorizing hearts, smiley faces and rainbows and can finally become an artist. Not only is drawing freehand unnecessary, it's a roadblock to your development as an artist! Drawing from memory can be fun in small doses and even useful if you're a cartoonist, but for the most part it's discouraging and and counterproductive.
For example, you could learn so much more from drawing a coneflower using a photo reference than you could from relying on your own faulty memory of how you think that flower should look. Rather than memorizing the basic shape of a flower, why not look at a real flower or a photograph of one, investing your memory in the important things such as the textures and patterns of each petal, or how they tend to fold inwards before they meet the center?
|Even a difficult passionflower like this has to start somewhere|
"It's So Hard To Start Drawing"
Do you have beginning artist's block? Fortunately, I have a cure. Clear off a desk, and on that desk place a sheet of paper, a pencil, an egg timer and a photo of anything you find interesting. Set the egg timer for an hour and start drawing.
Relax! You can play some music if you'd like or sip a cup of tea, but don't get too distracted: Your pencil needs to be moving nonstop and you'd better not pause to crumple up the paper into a ball or erase mistakes. If you need to start over, just keep filling the page until you have to start filling up the other side. When the timer buzzes, you don't have to call it quits! In the bonus round you can either keep drawing or start on something new.
By the time you've finished, make a list of everything that is 'wrong' about your drawing, and list the parts that gave you trouble. If the eyes didn't look right or the shading looked weird, try to figure out why and write down the solution. If you're still stumped, as a friend or family member for their two cents, or come back to the drawing with fresh eyes later.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be happy to provide honest critiques and encouragement.