So You Think You Can’t Draw?
I don’t know when it began or where, but there has been a devious lie circulating for ages about artistic ability. People believe that you are either born with artistic talent, or not. I haven’t heard of a single scientist coming out with evidence that drawing skill has been linked to the 15th chromosome, or that it has to do with the same gene that signals for dark eyes, and yet people take it as a fact that you are naturally an artist, or you are doomed to a life of stick-figures and self-depricating jokes. However, as you can see above in this thoroughly scientific graph by comic genius Demetri Martin, drawing skill is directly related to the amount of time spent practicing it.
Taking Down the Natural-Born Artist Theory
My personal theory, having taught art to students of all ages for the past 6 years, is that kids who simply LOVE visual expression have been practicing 2+ hours daily for three or four years by the time they reach 2nd grade. This is about the time when a child’s eyes can tell the difference between an ok drawing and a good one, and the young artist’s friends notice how COOL it suddenly is to draw. But alas, few to none of them are able to match their friends expertise, which has been gained in hours of doodling during math class, and chalk their mediocre skills up to a lack of innate skill, rather than the practice that every skilled artist has gone through in order to refine their craft. Well, fine, you might be saying to yourself, but I am waaaay past 2nd grade! The good news is, it is never to late to begin the practice that can, in as little as a few weeks, turn you into an artist.
La Practica Hace al Maestro-Practice is the Teacher
So I have good news and bad news. The good news is: ANYONE can learn to draw well, at any age. Your brain is a malleable, wonderful thing that will happily meld neural networks into a new configuration, and learning to draw stimulates parts of our brain that are often neglected in our left-brain biased society. Click here to learn more about how learning to draw can actually help keep you young, and stimulate multiple health benefits by keeping you brain in shape. The bad news is: there is no magic pill to swallow to turn you into Picasso overnight. I’m currently living and teaching in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I have heard my new favorite phrase: La practice have al maestro, practice is the teacher. Practice can give you a brain makeover, and give you stunning results in a relatively short period of time, but it takes at lease 10-30 minutes of practice at least 2 or 3 times a week to begin to rewire your neural networks.
The Right Brain Advantage
As you learn to draw, you are improving muscle memory in the hands, and improving connectivity between the eye and hand, as well as learning to see in a new way that is impossible to describe in words. After all, words, language, and logic are are in the sphere of left-brained thinking, which is counterproductive to the right-brained thinking that governs spacial perception and drawing ability. Learn MUCH more about this in this first chapter of Betty Edwards canonical book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
But no REALLY, I just can’t draw!!
I hope I have convinced you that talent is a sneaky word we have come to hundreds of hours of practice…but are you in love with another excuse? You can’t even draw a straight line? Or a circle? Check out Monika Zagrobelna’s article “What’s your Excuse” to see if you can match your favorite excuse why you can’t draw with the solution.
For those of you who have no excuses, just the awareness that what you are trying to draw looks MUCH different than the object you are looking at, artist Will Kemp cuts to the three main underlying problems most artists struggling through in his article, “The 3 reasons why you can’t draw (and what to do about it)”
How to Draw
Practice may make perfect, but it’s often awfully hard to do all on your own. So what are you waiting for? Take a class! Will Kemp’s online course for absolute beginners is a great way to start no matter where you are in the world.
If you happen to be in San Miguel de Allende this March, practice with me in either Art Boot Camp, a drawing intensive course guaranteed to whip your stick-figures into shape, or Sketching San Miguel, a class where we begin with basic drawing lessons before we hit the streets of San Miguel de Allende to sketch the beautiful surroundings.
I also teach private art classes if neither of these classes don’t fit your schedule. It is amazing what working with others can do to help improve your skills!
Still looking for more tips? Check these great links out below!
8 Ways to Improve your Drawing Skills by Alvalyn Creative
Just remember! the Process of Progress looks like: