First of all, to find out for yourself whether you like something or not, there is really only one way.
You have to try it…
You simply will never know if drawing is right for you if you don’t try it.
But it is not the same as trying a new burger or drinking a new beer, because the feedback you get is far from instantaneous.
In other words, you have to spend much more than an afternoon drawing a thing or two, before you can say you “tried” drawing.
If you during this time experienced anything like this:
- Felt more relaxed
- Took joy in a few scribbles that looked better than others
- Time passed faster than you realized
- Managed to express some feelings and it cleared your mind
- The idea of improving some of your scribbles made you excited
Then maybe drawing is for you.
The Realistic Experience
It would be great to tell you that drawing is pure awesomeness, that you are sure to love it, and that you will be a better and happier person from it.
But that would not be true.
A more realistic version of how you will experience drawing can be described like this:
Some days you will feel drawing is awesome. Other days you feel it’s a bit dull. And some days it will suck. If the sucky days start being frequent, then you might want to take a little break.
An experience of making progress and improving your drawing skills might be the thing that keeps you hooked, and for that experience to occur you have to stick with it for a while.
Of course, there is also the chance that you at some point will start hating everything about drawing. But that is a chance you have to take. After all, have things you enjoyed doing not changed in the past?
What If My Drawings Look Like Shit?
Did you ever consider how many hours of studying and practicing it took for you to develop a skill like writing or speaking?
How well do you think you did in the beginning?
It takes a very long time to understand and get good at anything. The truth you rarely hear, because it is quite demotivating, is that everything you do as a beginner kind of sucks.
If you were to compare yourself with someone who is much further ahead of you in hours spent practicing and honing their skills, then it is only natural that whatever you did looks like shit.
Keep in mind that:
- No weightlifter ever did a 200 kg deadlift starting out.
- No runner ever did his first km in less than 4 minutes.
- No writer ever completed a great novel as his first.
- No artist ever did a great drawing at the beginning of his/her practice
It is a long journey, so keep on going forward. Sometimes it might not be fun, and you won’t be able to tell that you are getting better.
You have to trust in the process that practicing will make you better. Take weight training or losing weight as an example, it can be very hard and sometimes impossible to tell if you are making any progress on a day-to-day basis. But if you keep on pushing, and iterating as your experience grows and you learn to see your mistakes, then you will make progress.
If you can embrace this journey and have fun with it without comparing and judging your skills too harshly, then you should be in good shape 🙂
Drawing Is a Set of Skills
Like developing any other skill, drawing requires hard work, and the more effort you put in the better the result.
With that being said, I think you can view drawing as a set of skills or as consisting of a subset of skills. At its basic level, it is about making various lines and shapes with decent hand-eye coordination.
But to draw anything that resembles what we see in the real world, you have to know about perspective, proportion, composition, anatomy, lighting and color theory, etc. Then there is the actual motor skill of moving your hand and putting the pen to the paper or drawing tablet. You also have to learn to draw what you observe and not what you think is there.
By improving any of these things, your overall drawing skill should become better. Just don’t expect linear progress.
Some people experience that their “observing skill” progresses faster than their hand motor skill. In other words, you might become better at noticing mistakes in your drawings faster than the actual drawing with your hand. That could leave you with the impression that your drawing is getting worse.
Finally, you can also argue that different drawing styles, topics, and even the objects themselves are skills. Drawing cartoons or manga is not the same as a realistic rendering of a landscape. Drawing cars is not the same as fruits. Drawing self-portraits is not the same as cities.
I think you should try all of them eventually. But it is best to pick one thing and get good at it before trying something else.
If you don’t know where to start, then I would suggest you enroll in an online class or go find out if there are any “physical” classes in your vicinity.
The Voice Inside Telling You “NO” (resistance)
A few years back I listened to the audiobook version of the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.
It is a great book that I would recommend you read (or listen to), and it made a few things “click” inside me.
In his book, Steven Pressfield describes the experience of internal resistance that you encounter whenever you set a hard-to-reach goal or consider achieving something that is difficult.
Typically, the bigger the goal or the more unfamiliar you are with the thing you want to achieve, the harder the resistance is.
You will experience the resistance as a repelling force getting in the way of you doing the actual work – like practicing your drawing.
Typically, your mind will present you with many different rationalizations as to why you should not do the work. At its core, it is just fear holding you back, but it always comes in disguise.
One big idea from the book is that the harder the resistance, the more sure you can be it is the right thing for you to pursue. Having no fear of failure would mean that succeeding did not matter to you either.
If you are anything like me and don’t have a lot of time to read books, then I would suggest you go for the audiobook.
Big audiobooks outlets like Audiobook.com or Amazon Audible typically have free trials and that way you can get the audiobook for free.