As an aspiring artist, I’m definitely on a mission. My intent is to explore the wide world of art, gather as much knowledge as I can, and practice, practice, practice. In that respect, my mission is a selfish one. I want to improve my art.
There’s another side to it, though. In a larger sense, my mission has become a desire to share my experience with others, not for any recognition or attention, but as a way of giving others the same joy I’ve found in art.
As with my decision to learn to draw, the decision to create “Artistcoveries” was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was sitting here at my desk reading a friend’s blog — on a totally unrelated topic — and the idea popped into my head.
Why not do an art blog?
Before I gave it a second thought, I’d uploaded a recent drawing of a bowl of apples, and “Artistcoveries” was born. It was at that point I suddenly blinked and asked myself what in the world I was thinking! Oh, the questions my mind threw at me!
- What was I going to put on an art blog?
- Why would anyone want to look at my drawings?
- Did I know how many people would be laughing at me?
- Had I totally lost my mind?
I had to give those questions some serious thought, especially the last one. Yes, I must be out of my mind to do an art blog. So why did it suddenly seem so important?
I realized then that I was doing this blog in hopes of inspiring others. Whenever conversations turn to the topic of art — which happens a lot around me now — I hear the exact same things I used to say.
I wish I could draw, but I can’t. I can’t even draw a straight line.
Yep, that was me a year ago. What I’ve since learned is that drawing really is a skill, one that can be learned by anyone with a little desire and determination. If you want to learn to draw, you can.
In years past — generations ago — drawing was accepted as a fundamental life skill that everyone learned, akin to readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic”. It makes sense, if you think about it. Before the advent of photography, how could you capture memories of places you’ve been? If you wanted to show something to a friend, you couldn’t grab your cell phone for a quick picture. What you did instead was draw. You learned the basic elements of art — line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture — and you gained an understanding of drawing principles such as foreshortening and perspective.
When I was in school, art class was much different. We had a lovely middle-aged woman for an instructor, and I’m sure she was quite an accomplished artist, but she did very little teaching. Consequently, her students did very little learning.
A typical day in art class would be, “Oh, it’s autumn now, and all the leaves on the trees are changing colors, so today we’re going to draw trees.”
End of lesson.
We would sit at our art desks, and those gifted few in the class would turn out gorgeous drawings of tall trees, emblazoned with brilliant wreaths of red and orange leaves. The rest of us scribbled something on the page and got a passing grade “just for trying.”
Seriously. That was the extent of our art lessons.
Most of the time, at least. I do recall learning about facial proportions — the eyes are half way down, you know — but really, with art class on the schedule for only 3 hours a week, I guess there wasn’t much time to teach thirty or forty teens how to actually pick up a pencil and draw. Yes, we really did have huge classes back in those days.
In looking back now, I suppose it’s little wonder that I never learned to draw.
This post, however, isn’t about me. It’s about everyone who’s ever wanted to draw, everyone who’s ever yearned to pick up a paintbrush and create, everyone who’s heard that voice inside calling out for expression but who’s felt incapable of ever succeeding in the world of art.
Success comes with practice, and practice comes from doing, and doing comes from picking up a pencil and making a mark. Drawing and painting are learnable skills. The results you’ll achieve will surprise you. It will only happen, though, when you decide to begin.
I hope you’ll make that decision today.