People make all kinds of excuses of why they can’t draw. Trust me, I’ve heard just about all them. The truth is, I believe that anyone can draw. It simply takes overcoming a few misconceptions about drawing and dispelling a few myths. Here are some common reasons that people struggle with drawing and how you can overcome them.
Reason 1 – You Need More Practice – This is probably the most common reason why people struggle with drawing. They simply need more practice to get better. Drawing is a skill and like with any other skill, you can’t expect to get better without practicing it. So many people think that drawing is just something that some people can do and others can’t. This simply is not true. Anyone can draw, but you have to want it enough to practice it. And practice includes making mistakes – lots of them. You’ll learn from your mistakes and your drawing skill will improve. But first you have to be willing to invest some hours of practice.
Reason 2 – You Haven’t Learned How to “See Like an Artist” – Seeing like an artist is different from simply seeing. Artists see the world as lines, shapes, forms, colors, and values. They are able to simplify the complex objects around us into abstractions that are closer to how our eyes actually “see” things. Artists are able to block out what their brains (or left brains anyway) are telling them and focus only on the abstract light that their eyes are actually recording. Artists are then able to take this abstract information and organize it on the surface using a medium in the manner that their eyes have recorded it, thus creating an illusion that translates to the brain of the viewer as reality. An artist, for example wouldn’t draw a chair. Instead, they would draw the lines, shapes, values, and colors that make up the chair in the manner that they are observed. The result is an illusion of a chair.
Fortunately, like drawing, seeing like an artist is a skill that can be learned and developed. It can be practiced. There are drawing exercises that you can try to help you learn how to see like an artist. For example, drawing an image from an upside down reference photo will help you block out distractions and focus only on the lines, shapes, colors, and values. Or blocking out a photo reference using a grid, and then drawing only one square within the grid. Any drawing exercise that helps you block out the content and only focus on the observed will improve your skill in this area.
Reason 3 – You Need More Experience With Specific Media – Each drawing medium has its own set of characteristics. Knowing and understanding how a specific medium will behave and how to control it on a drawing surface is absolutely essential to drawing success. Graphite should be applied and handled differently than other drawing media, like for example, soft pastel. Experience with each drawing media comes from practice and experimentation. It cannot be expected to pick up a medium and become an expert on the first use. Yet many new artists give up on a medium after just one use. Gaining knowledge of the appropriate uses, techniques, and surfaces of the media will improve your drawing. Practice and experimentation within a specific medium will naturally enhance these skills.
Reason 4 – You Simply Need to Spend More Time on Your Drawings – There’s a reason why it’s called art “work”. It takes work to create a strong drawing. It can be fun work – but work nonetheless. Time often needs to be invested into a drawing in order for the drawing to be successful. Slow down and concentrate on smaller areas of the drawing for longer periods of time and I guarantee that you will see noticeable improvements in your drawing.
Reason 5 – You Believe in “Talent” – Perhaps the reason you can’t draw is because you believe in talent. You have been told your whole life that some people can draw and some people can’t. So the first time you meet any challenge in developing drawing skill, you give up and blame it on lacking talent. Drawing is a skill that is taught, learned, practiced and developed. It’s just like any other skill such as playing a musical instrument, or learning a sport. It takes knowledge and practice to develop it. Anyone can learn how to draw, including you.