Do you know what it’s like to paint?
For most people it’s purely meditative.
I’d never had that experience before. I used to draw when I was a little kid- like most of us did. But after crossing middle school, it wasn’t something I took seriously. I wonder why.
My sister is a fabulous artist! That kid has an eye for the most intricate details. It amazes me how perceptive even a child can be. I think it shows that we absorb more than we think we do… She starting sketching with her Eiffel tower piece below. Me? I’m “different”.
Have you ever had that feeling that you’re terribly bad at something? Like, significantly worse at it than others? Yeah, Me too.
I’m terrible at sketching. TERRIBLE.
My circles are ovals, my ovals are circular, I do not understand angles and my shading and sense of proportions is bizarre. It’s kind of funny
I literally get nervous when I paint because I’m so convinced of how bad it’s going to be. Below are a few more samples that I really like from my sister’s collection.
Just like me,
Millions of adults around the world would break into a cold sweat if asked to draw a picture in front of a group of people. They’d deny any artistic talent, make excuses, and do whatever it took to avoid being on the spot with a pencil in their hand.
But ask a couple of five-year-olds to do the same thing, and within seconds they‘ll be drawing, explaining, and creating artistic masterpieces for all to see.
After a terrifying past with my attempts with art, I slowly mustered the courage to try to stop being silly and try art again. It took a lot of convincing from Namini, my college roommate, who kept egging me on to give it a try. She has gotten into more ‘simplistic art’ recently where she uses watercolors to paint what she finds fascinating. And even though she keeps insisting that they’re nothing great, I think they’re quite deep and hence fantastic. This is a sample from her art collection on the right. She has an array of artwork but I really like this one best because I connect with it on a personal level. This piece symbolizes to me how the dolphin is appreciating the lonely starry night in its peace and calm. I find myself remembering times when I’ve been in the middle of nature during travels and have felt so deeply in love with myself and everything around me. It simmers on me a sense of calm and peace which is almost sedating in a way. Not that I’m trying to say I’m a dolphin, but you get the point.
So what happened between the age of 5 and 15 that makes me terrified to draw? What makes YOU afraid?
For many people, it’s when they first realize that their drawings look nothing like reality. They can SEE the obvious mistakes, but have no idea how to fix them; feeling that if they can’t draw something perfectly, then they shouldn’t draw it at all. I know I’ve felt that way.
Perhaps it came as a surprise when one of my classmates at school laughed at my art homework and said your “family portrait” looked like two giraffes and an alien.
That’s a tough critique for anybody to take, let alone a kid, but it doesn’t mean I’m not an artist.
Most people think artists have some kind of gift, and I suppose that some artists are born with a talent for art. But, if we looked at the childhood drawings of 100 professional artists, I’d bet you’d find that 99 of them made the same type of scribbles and stick figures that all of us did as a kid.
The difference is that they never quit making scribbles, and at some point, they LEARNED to draw, whether from books, videos, teachers, or just on their own with lots of practice.
So why would it be any different for us? In fact, in order to not fall into a few of the potholes, we could be a little more diligent by making sure that we pick a reference before we draw or paint something. This is because drawing or painting something from memory can be pretty hard. Our memories get blurred and obstructed over time and when we draw based on something we vaguely remember, it often turns out to look horrible on paper. This is why many beginner artists get discouraged as well because they set a high expectation of drawing something very close to their imagination. Another reason is that people often have an expectation of picking up quicker and not realizing that it takes time and constant effort to improve this skill like any other. We immediately jump to wanting to draw a caricature of George Bush or a tropical sketch of the mountains forgetting that good art doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger.
The thing is, there’s no need to keep thinking that you have to be born with some amazing talent to be an artist. All it really takes is for somebody to teach you, plus some time and effort on your part. And I think this applies to all form of creativity and skill, not just art.
So while we try to enhance our skillsets and upgrade ourselves or just nurture our talents and learn new perspectives, maybe we should also learn to go easy on ourselves.
Slowly and steadily, we’ll all get there someday 😊❤️