If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, “I have absolutely no artistic talent.” or “I’m so bad at drawing” or “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.”, I’d be rich! These folks believe that a person is born with some kind of magical, mystical artistic trait that they do not possess! So, why even ask, “Can anyone learn to draw?” Well, the answer may surprise you. Let’s explore this question, shall we?
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Self-Doubt is Powerful
We’ve all heard those negative little thoughts in our head that say “Can I learn to draw, really? I can’t – I don’t have a natural ability. I know I will fail.” It would be easy for me to tell you to just push these thoughts out of your head but we know, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Self-doubt is very powerful and can really keep us stuck in the ditch. It will keep us from trying or if we do muster up the courage to try, self-doubt will creep in at the first struggle to knock us down and make us want to throw in the towel.
It’s really a shame we do this to ourselves. I, too, have fell victim to self-doubt many times. But, to keep going, I had a special motivator….
Fire in the Belly
When I was growing up my mom used to tell me, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” Translation – if you really want to do it, you’ll do it!
One of my art mentors talked about having “fire in the belly”. It’s that want, desire, motivation, ambition, aspiration, yearning, drive, determination – you get the idea. And if you’re an artist you know what I mean. Whenever I’m away from creating for a couple of days, I actually experience a strong pull back to art. It’s like I’m compelled to put pencil or marker to paper and see where it leads me.
My point is if you have the desire to learn to draw – you can! And by desire, you have to really want it. If you do, then yes, you absolutely can learn to draw! And that desire combined with successes will keep you coming back again and again.
Natural talent – Fact or Fiction?
Ah, there’s it is, the “You have to have a natural talent to do art” belief. OK, here’s my thought on that – it’s a myth. Do we have “natural talents” in one thing or another? Of course, we do. But to me, that just means learning will come more easily to those who may possess some natural ability.
Here’s an example that comes to mind. Math never came easily to me. I always had to work longer and harder at it than some classmates who seemed to breeze through it. Did I learn it? Yes, I did – it just took me longer. Did I have to work much harder at it than those classmates? Of course, I did but I learned it! See where I’m going with this?
Some artists have more of a natural ability but that doesn’t mean they can learn it and you can’t! Learning to draw is something to be nurtured through hard work. Maybe you’ll be surprised at how easy it comes to you. Or, maybe you’ll see you have to work it a little harder at it. But you can do it!
How to Get Started
My ability to draw was developed through mostly self-teaching. One resource I absolutely 100% recommend is Betty Edwards book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. In the book, she states that drawing is a learnable skill. She talks about how we have to make the mental shift to use the right side of the brain to create art (because this is the side of the brain that is used for art) and teaches just how to do that .
Also, she talks about drawing what you see, that is, learning to see and process what you’re seeing in the way artists do. This is so true. If you were to draw a bowl for example, abandon the idea of a bowl and instead draw the collection of curves, lines, ellipses, etc. that you see one at a time.
Another source I love is Mark Kistler’s You Can Draw in 30 Days. A cartoon illustrator by trade, this artist breaks down drawing into a simple, straightforward way and he makes it very fun! The concepts outlined in the book lend themselves toward cartoon illustration as well as realism. He covers simple subjects on up to one and two-point perspective and drawing faces, all in an easy to understand approach.
Both these resources will allow you to take smaller steps, one at a time. With their guidance and following their instruction, you will be able to start having success, one small project at a time. This will naturally lead to more and more success and build your confidence. Confidence will lead to motivation and that “fire in the belly” will be ignited!
This is probably the least expensive medium you can do. You do NOT need a whole fancy drawing kit or expensive graphite pencils or supplies. In fact, I’m 99% certain you have what you need to get started right in your home. You literally can use the old fashion No. 2 pencil and any paper. (I’ve been known to sketch on the back of an envelope on occasion.)
OK but what if buying the supplies will get you more motivated? Well then get a set of H, HB (this IS the equivalent of the No 2 pencil) 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B and buy a good eraser (pink pearl type). Also, purchase a sketch book (like a Journal looking type sketch book) spiral bound is good, blending stump and tortillions. And you’ll want something to carry these things in.
No More Excuses
Sometimes we have to just jump in with both feet. We have to ignore the negative self-talk and just start trying. If you keep telling yourself you can’t, you won’t. Period. I’m hoping you’ll stop making excuses (“I don’t have any talent”; “I don’t have the patience”; “I can’t afford the materials”) and just try. With a combination of desire, simple materials and good teaching resources such as those mentioned earlier, anyone can start learning to draw. I hope you will!
If you have any questions or comments, I would love for you to leave them below. Thanks for reading and happy drawing!