Years ago literacy campaigns often used the slogan “Reading is fundamental” with emphasis on the FUN part. As a strong supporter of literacy, I agreed whole-heartedly that reading should be fun. It should be an enjoyable activity, especially for young readers. Reading is, indeed, fundamental to success in life.
In the same way, drawing skills are fundamental in art. At the same time, though, I hesitate to say that. I know many highly creative artists who don’t do much — if any — drawing at all. Yet they are successful as artists, so how can my claim be true?
In all honesty, yes, it is possible to be an artist and not be able to draw. Now that I’m doing more mixed media work and am chatting with mixed media artists, I hear many of them comment on their lack of drawing skills. It doesn’t stop them from creating beautiful art journal pages. They are strong in other areas of art — design, color theory, composition. For many of them, working in mixed media and creating illustrations through stencils, stamping, ink transfers, and other methods is fine. For others, though, there is a keen sense that something is missing in their art. Most of them bemoan — as I once did — the fact that they can’t draw. Most of them believe — as I once did — that drawing is a talent you either have or you don’t, and if you don’t, too bad. You’ll never get it.
Nonsense! I took a chance a few years ago and decided to learn to draw. I’d heard people say that learning to draw was possible. I had my doubts, but it was something I wanted to do.
And, I did.
Earlier this morning I sat down with a sketchbook and my well-worn copy of Landscapes by William F. Powell.
I’m practicing drawing trees and bushes because I know that improving my drawing ability will help me become a better landscape painter.
And you know what…? Drawing these palm trees was so much fun I just sat here smiling and feeling happy. Yeah. Drawing does that for me.
I’ve been at this now for a little over five years, but I’m still amazed at what I’ve done. Even with simple little drawings like this, I feel immense personal satisfaction. I drew this. It was actually easy.
It amazes me. Yes, it’s becoming a little easier now for me to copy simple illustrations like these palm trees. And it’s also become a lot of FUN.
In recent months, I’ve been feeling that FUN more and more. When I sit down with a pencil and my drawing pad, it feels good. It makes me happy. I like drawing. I really do.
My drawing time this morning made me realize again how helpful it is to develop drawing skills. Drawing is fundamental in art. Sure, we can be artists without drawing, but I’m going to venture out on a limb here and suggest that developing basic drawing skills will make anyone a better artist.
My drawings are still wonky as often as not, but they’re getting better and better each day. I’m now able to draw almost anything — even buildings, even animals, even the human figure. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and that’s why I continue to practice day after day.
So, once again, to all my friends who say, “I wish I could draw, but I can’t,” I want to say — loud and clear — that yes, you really can learn to draw if you want to. If you ever feel that your drawing skills (or lack thereof) are holding you back in your art, then give drawing a try! It is a skill that can be learned. And once learned, you’ll soon discover that not only is drawing FUNDAMENTAL, it’s also more FUN than you can possibly imagine.
That’s my message for today. Now, I’m going to go draw a few more trees.