Anyone can learn to draw

by pamneely on July 28, 2010


We are told, and rightly so, that it is great fun to be able to draw and paint. Every manual of painting stresses this, and then proceeds to make the whole thing seem so difficult that we are discouraged before we begin. Of course it is difficult. But should that really concern us?

There is a saying that goes: if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. Which means, in essence, that whatever you do, do it for the enjoyment it gives you. If you are concerned only with doing it well you may feel so inadequate that you won’t do it at all. And look at all the pleasure you will miss.

I was the despair of my teachers. Yet if I had taken them seriously I would have given up long ago. But drawing and painting were too pleasant to abandon just because I wasn’t going to be any good at them, so I went on enjoying myself and got better and better in spite of myself. It was as simple as that.

Of course this may confound many people. It sounds too easy. How can you achieve anything, they could argue, if (a) you haven’t any ability or (b) you don’t work hard? But then most of the things we do in life are, in reality, easy. It is our thinking about them that makes them difficult. If we knew how complicated it is to take one simple breath, we might give up and suffocate. Yet breathing comes so easily to us we do it without thinking. And I submit it is the same with drawing and painting. It is easier than we think. All we need to know is what to use and how it behaves when we use it.

I have written fully about the equipment you will need and what its uses are; and I have suggested exercises and discussed different modes of seeing. But I have not laid down any firm rules about anything. If you are going to express yourself you will break all the rules anyway. Instead I have laid down some general lines on which to travel. Let your own inclination be the best judge of what is most useful to you.

Above all, let your materials do the work, let your hands have their way and let your eyes dictate their impressions. Don’t force anything. Let it happen naturally. After all it is quite natural to want to draw and paint.

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