Have you been told you shouldn’t draw?

Art is for the viewer as much as for the artist themselves, however opinions on a piece of art can vary as much as the people do. When an artist is learning, or has an unpopular style, you very well may be told you shouldn’t draw.

This unhelpful criticism hurts regardless of where it comes from, but when it’s a teacher or an authoritative figure, someone you’ve been raised to trust, it can be an opinion you take in as your own.

On a trip to Michael’s, I saw an elderly woman who looked a bit confused as she looked at the different types of markers.

I asked if she needed some help and she accepted. While we were talking, she told me that she was in her late 60’s and that she was just getting into art. When she was in school, her teacher had told her she couldn’t draw and that as long as she didn’t try to draw, she’d give her a passing grade….I was horrified of course, but truly inspired by this lady’s decision to pick up art as a hobby all these years later.

“I did one of those pictures where half is drawn and I have to draw the other side.” She gave a big smile, “It looked exactly the same when I was done.”

Good for you!

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that kind of story. It gets me so angry to hear that someone who was supposed to encourage creativity, tells others to quit, or that they are too terrible to learn.

No, you are obviously not cut out to be a teacher.

No one has the right to tell you that you can’t draw or that you will never be able to. No matter what degree they have, accolade they’ve earned, or how good at art they are, they DO NOT have the ability to tell you you can’t.

I myself have been told that I should move on to something I’m, “better at”.

I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t hurt, especially when it came from a good friend, but my rebellious streak, and love of art, kept me from giving up.

No matter your skill level or how long you’ve been drawing/painting/etc….

You can create art!

Here are some tips that might help you along:

  • Draw your favorite

If you really like drawing something, say a bunny, draw rabbits in different positions, doing different things, draw lots of them. You’re building your muscle memory, and your minds eye to remember how to draw them even if you don’t have one in front of you.

  • Value is everything

Take a picture of your work and put a greyscale filter on it to check your values. Make it lighter or darker accordingly.

  • Flip it

Flip a picture upside down and draw what you see. If you feel like your proportions are off, take a picture and reverse the image, you will see what needs correcting.

  • Turn it

Turn your work upside down when you’re drawing something symmetrical, even if it looks right. This is a way to check your proportions. Be sure to do this when it’s still a sketch, it’s disappointing to get to the rendering part before you see a flaw.

  • Look at reference photos

It helps immensely to actually see what you’re drawing. Our brains can think that it knows what a flower looks like, but a photo can’t hurt, no matter what your style is. You can always choose what parts of the reference you keep.

  • Don’t be a slave to your reference

It’s your art and you can change colors or positioning however you like. I tend to use multiple references at once: One may have a color pallet I like, while others may have a subject or position that seems interesting. If this is too confusing for you, just start with one at a time, and tweak it till you like it.

  • Most importantly, practice!

Ultimately, it just takes practice. If you put in the time, you will get better. If you love it, do it. An artist is someone who makes art. That’s the only requirement.

What did you think? Leave a comment!