(Okay, okay, that’s more of a comment than a question, but I started the “Overasked…” thing and “Overmade Comments and Questions” doesn’t scan as well. So there.)
So. When confronted with an artist, sooo many people spontaneously exclaim “I can’t draw!” It’s probably the single most frequent comment OR question I’ve ever gotten.
Well, of course you can’t draw as well as I can. You haven’t spent the last quarter century practicing.
No other discipline is treated as lousily as art when it comes to encouraging young people. Once you get past preschool – and possibly even earlier – kids must have “talent” or they are discouraged from even trying!
Think about this. Do you, when confronted with a virtuoso violinist, exclaim “I can’t play the violin!” When you meet a long-distance runner, do you open conversation with “I have no endurance!” Some people do, sure, but it seems to be much more common with regards to art.
(These sorts of comments I believe are intended as roundabout compliments, but really all they do is sell yourself short, and imply that the person you are complimenting only got where they are due to some magical inborn characteristic that you, the speaker, don’t have. That’s really not that much of a compliment when you think about it!)
Anyway. So you believe you can’t draw. Perhaps you are convinced that there is an innate artistic trait you are lacking. Perhaps you had a well-meaning parent or teacher react badly to an early artistic attempt. Perhaps you have this firm idea in your head of what an artist “should” be able to do, and are discouraged by how far you are from that ideal. Perhaps you see drawing as a purely conscious process, coming from the brain and the hand, and get frustrated from your attempts to impose perfect control on your movements.
I’m convinced, after seeing far too many people timidly second-guessing their every mark on the page (I’ve done it too – still do it on occasion, truth be told) that a large part of drawing “talent” is getting your brain out of the way. Try this –
Get a paper and pen. Put the pen down.
Close your eyes.
Think of something grand, flourishing, and beautiful. A symphony, or the curve of a loved one’s back, or a sunrise. Internalize the feeling. Feel it suffusing every cell, making you glow with its light. Raise your dominant arm, and release that energy with one grand sweep of your arm.
Remember the motion you just made. How smooth it was, how graceful its curve, how decisive its meaning.
Do it again, but holding the pen. Don’t try to mimic the motion exactly, but recall the feeling that led to the motion.
Then do it again, this time with the paper happening to fall beneath the pen.
Look at the line you made. How smooth it is, how graceful its curve, how decisive its meaning. How much easier it was to draw from your heart than from your uncertain, self-doubting brain.
From there it’s all technique, and technique can be learned. You can draw. It just takes practice.