Jeni on Drawing 16. The Practice of Drawing
The impulse to make marks is as natural to humans as the impulse to talk. As babies,we spend our first year or so making strange sounds, imitating what we hear. Through practice and interaction, copying people around them, we eventually learn to make sounds that others understand. Without this vital preparation we would not be able to communicate. Children are then taught to read and write, again making mistakes and slowly learning the basics.
Only when we are comfortable and confident with the rules of grammar, composition and writing techniques can we take the next step; that of creating an original piece of writing. To do this we need to reach out for raw material; something which inspires us to write and to want to share our thoughts.
There are many parallels between this and learning to draw. Small children make marks to represent what they see around them. They start with scribbles and random dots, but as they gain control of their hands, the marks become recognisable as people, animals and other objects. They are also happy to copy things that other people draw for them, which is why Maltese children usually children usually draw houses with pointed roofs!
Learning to communicate through language or mark-making is similar in that both are perfectly natural things to do, but for some reason we don’t think Art should be a slow process of making mistakes and learning through practice. We seem to have an unrealistic expectation of being able to learn a few basic techniques and then turn out masterpieces for everyone to admire.
If you go to a singing teacher he will give you breathing exercises first, not a song. No one would expect you to sing those exercises before an audience.
Do yourself a favour – don’t expect to turn out ‘proper’ drawings when you are doing exercises. They are designed to help you learn to SEE and are steps to being able to draw well. Your progress will show in how differently you start to see things around you, not necessarily in the drawings themselves…….
Never be afraid to make mistakes; they will teach you much more than anything else.
“The sooner you make the first five thousand mistakes, the sooner you will be able to correct them” Kimon Nicolaides ‘The Natural Way to Draw’
It all depends on you, and how much time you are prepared to invest in practice.
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