I’m here with some stuff I meant to tell you about yesterday (when I got all distracted by my live-model-drawing-giddyness and had to tell you about that instead…) Over lunch the other day, a friend told me about her drawing class. “I think I can draw!” she said. “I never thought I could, so I’ve never really tried before!” Once I got past the teeny tinge of envy (because I’ve never had an art class) it hit me what she had just said: I never thought I could, so I’ve never really tried.
And I thought, How absurd we are!
My daughter is fourteen. Where I live, the legal driving age is sixteen. Before applying for a driver’s license a person must first have 40 hours of driving practice. My daughter has never been behind the wheel of a car, ever, but somehow, I have no doubt she can drive. With just a bit of practice, I’ve always just assumed she can learn this. Without her ever having tried, I believe she will become a capable and safe driver, and that she will get better and better as the weeks and years pass — and it has never occurred to me to doubt it.
Shouldn’t we assume the same of our creative ability?
I can’t draw, we say. I don’t know how.
This is absurd.
Can you imagine what we — any one of us — could do after forty solid hours of drawing practice? Ha! We could draw anything! And what if, after the initial forty hours, we continued to practice every day, just ten minutes here and ten minutes there, maybe a couple of hours on the weekend, devoted to our art like we are devoted to carpool and commuting? Oh, how skilled could we become then? And best of all, like the security of knowing we are safe drivers, we could start to feel safe and comfortable with our art.
Practice gets us settled. It gets us secure. Practice builds skill, but it also builds belief. It builds confidence. By drawing a little everyday, we take the power out of what we draw or how well we draw it, because watching our skills steadily improve erases our doubt. We put the power back where it belongs: in our soul. In the process of Creation. With practice we begin to finally believe we can draw (paint/sculpt/skateboard) because we are building a body of evidence, in increments, every day.
So set out, I say! Draw everything! With a little practice and a little patience, logging just a few miles in your sketchbook every single day, before long you’ll have an impressive travelogue of drawing practice; a (surprise!) portfolio of real drawing ability. Well, whaddaya know.