“I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.” So claims Digital Dame in response to my daughter’s invitation to all those who would like to be able to draw, to join a new group (completely free) called Doodle-a-Day. Digital Dame may well be absolutely correct in claiming to have no potential ability to draw but I beg to differ.
A few years ago, an elderly artist, confronted with a similar statement from a would-be painter who was joining her class, replied “You can sign your name can’t you?” and when the lady confirmed that she could indeed sign her name, the artist said “Well then, if you have learnt to sign your name you can learn to draw.” It is an interesting idea to which I will return in a moment.
In my opinion, many people, indeed probably the majority, have been misled about the nature of drawing and painting. When they use, or hear, words like art, artist, artistic, talented, gifted etc. etc. they seem to understand them as referring to some almost magical qualities or traits possessed by the fortunate few. More importantly they understand themselves to be excluded from this “gifted” minority because they have no “talent”. What nonsence!
Clearly it is true to say that some folks have more aptitude for drawing, for example, than others. That is no reason for the others to regard themselves as hopeless cases who cannot draw at all. I would argue that most people in educated societies have demonstrated already an ability to learn to draw. What is drawing, if not representing with marks on paper (or other flat surface) an object or scene in front of you?
When we were very young, we made marks with pencil, crayon or whatever, on paper (sometimes the wallpaper!) and we didn’t need to be shown how to make the marks. We did need to be show how to make special marks called letters and, later, how to organise them into words and even join them together. Wasn’t that, at least, the first steps towards drawing? Not only that but we were drawing pictures already as well – perhaps not easily recognised by “grown-ups” but pictures which WE recognised nonetheless.
So we all had the basic skills from an early age. All we need now is to polish up our ability to see, and to co-ordinate our eyes and our hand, so as to transfer what we see to paper. Too technical for you? Not at all. Improving your ability to see amounts to nothing more than making a point of really looking at things rather than taking them for granted. Hand-eye co-ordination? Do you ride a bicycle? Drive a car? Play a musical instrument? For all of these activities and many others you need hand-eye co-ordination and you will learn to do it for drawing quite quickly.
Why not join Doodle-a-Day and give it a try for just a month. If, at the end of the month you are not sufficiently encouraged by your progress to want to keep going, I will be very surprised. Don’t delay, two days have gone already so hurry up and join the fun!