Learning to Draw
If all children are born able to draw, sing and dance, to express themselves and their emotions, what happens to stunt all that? Why do we lose confidence in our ability?
Children’s drawings naturally develop to become more rounded and sophisticated, and to reflect what the child is most interested in; cars, boats, animals, etc. At some stage though, frustration sets in as they try to draw more realistically and find that nobody can help them to do that. They might be able to draw one or two things reasonably well, but other subjects will just elude them. Some children find drawing and thinking creatively easier than others, but most find it really difficult and are easily put off by negative comments and accept the label of ‘unable to draw’. Even as adults they will fall back on childhood symbols such as stick men and cauliflower trees whenever they are asked to draw.
I think that the main reason most people’s find drawing realistically so difficult is because they have been attempting to learn to draw in a logical way, and drawing is not a logical process. It is a creative one, and involves learning to ‘see’ the world in a completely different way before they can draw it. It is the way that an artist sees, and is not taught in classes unless the teacher is not only able to see that way, but also able to explain and demonstrate it. The answer is to draw exactly what is in front of their eyes, without processing it in any logical way. This sounds simple, and some of us seem to do it naturally, but most people find learning to draw realistically completely shifts their perception, not just visually but also in other ways such as spatial awareness and heightened sensitivity.
Something else that I have noticed is that people are often quite surprised at how much hard work learning to draw can be. They seem to expect to be able to instantly draw and paint with the same kind of ease and joy that they felt as children. When it all goes ‘wrong’ they get very annoyed and frustrated. This is interesting, as they certainly wouldn’t expect to play an instrument well without hours of practice, or to write a book without learning to read first. It takes practice and determination to override those embedded childhood symbols, replacing them with honest observation. New synapses are created in the brain when we do this, which is always a healthy thing to do at any age. This can feel quite tiring at first, but it’s a happy sort of tiredness, quite difficult to describe.
Making mistakes and getting things wrong are the very best way to learn anything really; it’s by trying not to repeat previous errors that we make progress and get closer to our goals. The best thing about studying the Arts is that you will never reach perfection. There will always be some new goal or inspiration to pull you forward, some new idea or different approach that you just have to try, another question of ‘What if……?’