What’s good about bad art?
I just ordered new business cards. On them, there’s a spot for a company slogan. I have no real slogan, except maybe learning art the easy way. I wanted something more meaningful. So I decided to use a thought I developed years ago: Don’t be afraid to create bad art; be more afraid of making none at all.
I think the biggest inhibitor to creative development is fear. With our handy-dandy nasty critic sitting on his throne in the back of our minds, we are afraid to express ourselves because it will look like rubbish. I’ve had students tell me that their three-year-olds draw better than they. Now that’s what I call real rubbish. The secret between the two is the child doesn’t have any inhibitions, whereas the adult is riddled with doubt and fear.
Notice below that children’s artwork is basically the same. The house is a box with a triangle on top, maybe a rectangle for the chimney. There are rectangles for windows and a pathway of some sort headed for the rectangular front door. The people are made of lines and circular objects. Coloring is either in or out of the lines. It really doesn’t matter.
As children develop their fine motor skills and are more aware of their world, their artworks improve accordingly. In fact, children love to draw and play with their crayons. I don’t remember ever knowing a young grammar school kid who didn’t like to paint or draw. It was fun, even if one were just scribbling.
How did I get this way?
Then around 10 or 11, things change. Our worlds become more concrete. We are aware of our selves more and compare our work to others. As I’ve often said in class, we all experienced that little girl who drew the best ever horses (or at least we thought) and that boy who could construct an awesome skyscraper with just the tip of a pencil. Then we look at our work and say, “It’s all crap. Why bother?” Most of us never look back, thinking all along that we can’t draw, not even a decent stick figure.
Over the years, I have witnessed so many brave people walk into my basic drawing class with fear or should I say, uncertainty in their eyes. It has always astounded me because it tells me that these students really want to learn, have a desire that probably stems back from childhood, and they are courageous enough to take the first step. They are in class to see if they can really do what they thought they couldn’t. That is, draw!
It’s a skill
I cannot repeat this enough that drawing is a skill, not just a talent. Let me repeat this again, drawing is a skill just like playing the piano, swimming in a lake and even writing by hand.
All of these tasks take practice and usually someone to guide you in order for you to learn the skill. If someone were to ask me to play the cello, I’d have no idea where to start. Of course, I could pick at a few strings and get some type of noise, but that’s not playing.
The same holds true for drawing. Once you’ve learned the basic skills necessary, either through an instructor like me, a YouTube workshop or DVD, it’s all up to you to get better through practice.
So I hear you ask, “But what about those prodigies.” Interestingly these brilliant children have something in common. Once they’ve identified their passion and have parents to support them, the “talent” comes through. As in the article, What Makes a Prodigy?, written by David Z. Hambrick in Scientific American, these exceptional children may have a genic ability or just a result of massive interest in the subject:
one cannot tear these children away from activities in their area of
giftedness, whether they involve an instrument, a computer, a sketch pad, or a
math book. These children have a powerful interest in the domain in which they have
high ability, and they can focus so intently on work in this domain that they lose
sense of the outside world.
of a recent study of more than 10,000 twins by Miriam Mosing, Fredrik Ullén,
and their colleagues at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute revealed that a common
set of genes influence both music aptitude and the propensity to practice—an
example of a phenomenon known as genetic pleiotropy, which occurs when one gene
(or set of genes) influences multiple traits.”
The child prodigy is not your issue
Here’s my answer to the child prodigy issue. Yes, there may be people who seem to be born with an extraordinary ability to perform certain tasks, but I also agree with hypothesis made above. If we read about these wonder children, we find that there’s usually a parent in the background encouraging the child AND a child who is obsessed working on the subject. They really show what happens when you practice.
Believe me, most of the greats did not come out of the birth canal with pencil in hand, creatubg great masterpieces. Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci were all taught under masters and then became masters themselves.
I like the idea behind the saying that FEAR is:
- F false
- E evidence
- A appearing
- R real
We simply misinform ourselves. So it truly is better to fail and pick yourself up again and again until you reach your goal. I’ve done it by drawing every night. You can do the same!
Workshop: First for the year 2018
Drawing the Still Life for Beginners One-Day Workshop
The skeleton for all art begins with drawing. In this one-day course, I will take you step-by-step in learning the fundamentals of drawing and still life. We will cover: line, shape, form/values, texture, perspective and measurement. Bring a sketchbook*; all other supplies are provided, including lunch. $98
Drawing Birds One-Day Workshop
Here’s an introductory course to sketching birds from skeleton to feather. We’ll cover many different birds, using pencil, ink and watercolor wash. Bring a sketchbook* with you to class. All other supplies, including lunch, provided. $98
Saturday, February 17
Visual Journaling One-day Workshop
Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and express yourself. Discover your inner self through words, painting, drawing as well as other art materials and found pieces. Bring a heavy-duty sketchbook, like Strathmore® Visual Journal. All other materials supplied, including lunch.
Workshop: Boston to Quebec September 14-21
Come join us in September on a watercolor sketching cruise of New England and Canada. We will explore the sights and sounds of the big city of Boston, the quaintness of Portland, Maine, our city's namesake, as well as enjoy a fabulous journey through several Canadian towns and villages along the St. Lawrence, ending in historic Quebec City. For more information go to this link. Please note, this cruise ship fills up fast and prices keep going up. So I'd suggest making deposits as soon as you can (but no pressure!)
Studio Classes begin the first week of January
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks
(pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project.
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term
Prerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*
Wild Animals II
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term
New! Watercolor Sketching
How to keep a journal using words and
Every Wednesday afternoon
Multimedia, variety of subjects
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$80 per five-week term
Go to website for a descriptive listing of classes.
*Acrylics workshop conducted by JJ Goodell either at PCC or Glastonbury Studios