When I tell people that I left my corporate career behind to try my hand at art and a creative practice, the reaction I get most often is some version of: “Oh, that’s nice but I can’t draw.”
I hear that voice in my head a lot too but I want to share something with you. It’s not true. Drawing, just like learning anything, takes practice. If you want to learn a new language, you need to practice it. If you want to learn a new sport, you need to practice it. This applies to nearly everything unless you are fortunate enough to be a genius or to have been born with a specific talent. And even then, geniuses and talented musicians, for example, hone their skills and practice them!
I’m going to get very vulnerable here and show you some drawings that I did in one of the online art classes I took several years ago. The assignment was something like: draw 8-10 images from memory of your childhood. No visual references allowed.
Here are mine.
Look at them! They are hilarious, childish, “bad” in the sense that I can’t draw very well at all. I didn't draw these when I was five, I drew them three years ago.
I cringe when I look at them although I try to maintain my sense of humor. I know that this version of me and my drawing abilities still lurks inside of me and could come out at any moment.
But here’s the thing. Practice, exercises, prompts, and a supportive community make all the difference in the world when you are passionate about trying something new.
I kept at it and embraced the idea that practice would eventually make me better. Taking classes that introduced me to a bunch of different drawing exercises helped a ton. And watching free YouTube videos of people drawing or showing me how to draw something became a bit of an obsession.
Drawing a face or attempting a portrait of a real person is super intimidating. I still shy away from this type of artwork. However, during the same year that I drew those childhood drawings, I decided that I wanted to learn basic facial proportions. I googled: “how to draw a face" and a whole bunch of YouTube videos popped up.
My favorite one, still to this day, is by Tom McPherson of Circle Line Art School and is called: How To Draw A Female Face: Step by Step.
I have literally watched this video over 50 times. It’s very straight-forward with no frills. There is no voice over, only music, and it's just under thirteen minutes. While Tom draws, simple instructions appear on screen, such as: “Step 1: Sketch an oval shape.”
As part of a drawing challenge, I attempted to draw the face in Tom's YouTube video for 20 straight days. I did each drawing while watching the video. I'd stop the video often to complete a step and then hit "play" again to watch the next section and so on.
Here are my drawings.
It’s still amazing to me that each one is different and none of them look like the drawing I’m trying to imitate.
If you’d like to watch Tom's actual YouTube video to see what I was trying to imitate, click HERE.
Nevertheless, most of them have decent proportions and look like a woman so for me, that’s progress! A lot of drawing is attempting to get out of one's own head and just DRAW! Very small changes in line and shape make a very big difference. Doing the same exercise over and over is extremely helpful.
It may seem nearly inconceivable that these sketches were made by the same hand that created those "childish" drawings I shared with you earlier. But they were and really the only difference is that I didn't have a reference for my childish drawings and I did for the faces. I also had a step by step process to follow when drawing these female faces. And that makes a huge difference.
I highly encourage you to try this exercise. Pick an object you would like to draw, google it and watch videos of other people drawing it while you do the same. Do it over and over again to see the different results you get. And have FUN!
Next week I’ll share another drawing exercise that I enjoy. I hope you will give some of these a try.
Remember, “It’s Never Too Late To Create”.
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Here is an audio version of last week's blog. Download it and listen on the go!