A question from a new artist: When I was young I used to draw all the time. Now , thanks to Sketchbook Skool and all the amazing work in our Facebook group, I really want to start drawing again — but fear is holding me back. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to draw decently, even with practise. So I just don’t start. I’ve signed up for multiple Sketchbook Skool classes but never finished more than a few lessons because I see how bad my drawings are and feel very disappointed. People told me to just start and not care about the results, however that doesn’t seem to be working. I still hate the few drawings I made and don’t want to look at them. I hope that you don’t mind me asking for some advice on how to deal with this. I really want to be able to enjoy drawing again. — Suzanne
Suzanne, I hear you. I make so many awful drawings. I have for twenty years now. It’s most disheartening after I have stopped drawing for a period and decide to start again. I buy a fresh sketchbook, turn to the first page, and make something so ugly I just want to put it away and give up altogether.
Here’s what I do instead.
I get some scrap paper and a big fat marker and I just draw something with big and fat lines. I do that a bunch of times. Something about those big fat lines loosens me up. My drawing feels bolder and more confident and has a personality to it that I find appealing. The drawings that disappoint me are overly ambitious, they have crabbed and shaggy lines. I am hesitant and unsure of myself and it shows in the drawing. But somehow drawing with the big fat marker or a crayon gives me faith in what I’m doing and I believe once again that I can get to a better place.
These big fat drawings are just fun and have style and look like something appealing. I keep doing this for a few days and then I start to add a bit more detail with a slightly smaller pen to one of these big fatties. This helps me transition to drawing with more control and assurance.
It’s tempting, when you get back into drawing to put a lot of stock in every drawing you make and to come back to them again and again for proof of ones ability. They actually contain no evidence of that at ll. If you look at early Van Gogh drawings you see how ugly and crude they are. But when he pushed past those overworked disasters and kept going, he got looser and more confident and eventually became the master we revere. That took him a few painful years.
I know that “keep practicing” is not what you want to hear. Instead I suggest you keep playing. Play with fat lines. Play on scrap paper. Throw away ten drawings a day. Literally toss them in the bin. Commit to playing for a month and then see how you feel about drawing.
We call it “drawing” not “having drawn.” So enjoy the process and worry less about the results.
If you’d like to see the suggestions others made for Suzanne, here’s the post in the Sketchbook Skool group on Facebook.