Friday, 22 July 2011

"She has an excellent sense of colour"

The immortal words said of me by an art teacher about my only artistic 'strength'.

People always seem slightly surprised that I cannot draw. I guess I look like the arty type. I have a disheveled air, I'm scatty and slightly eccentric. However I assure you that I cannot draw. (I had art classes at school until I was 14, after which time art was optional and I was freed from the weekly humiliation). I have always felt slightly shortchanged by this. There are many people in my family who are creative, who can draw and paint and have beautiful, elegant handwriting and yet for some reason the artistic genes never made it onto my branch of the family tree. It has always bothered me slightly but the current popular return to 'arts and crafts' has really exposed my complete dearth of artistic ability.

Today I had a conversation with a friend about talents. I asked her what talent she would choose to have if she had the choice and she answered singing. I told her that of all the talents to have, my chosen one would be drawing and painting. She suggested quite matter of factly that I could get an art techniques book, a children's one even, and teach myself from that. It never occurred to me that you could 'teach' yourself to draw. Certainly, you can practice and improve but I've always thought that you need a little smattering of this elusive artistic talent or ability to start with. Like a little seed that you could water and nourish. But what if you don't have the artistic seed to begin with?

At home this evening, I was looking through my memory box with my sister and I uncannily came across a little pile of simple portrait drawings which I think I did about 16-18 years ago. I had completely forgotten about the existence of the drawings and cannot recollect now what had inspired the sketching experiments. I can only assume that I had a similar 'I am artistically inadequate' tantrum in my early teens and decided to try to tackle it for once and all. Or perhaps I did them the day after the only positive thing my art teacher had to say was about my ability to successfully co-ordinate colours (which these days is more like OCD than anything artistic). I chuckled when I first saw them as they are dreadful but at a second glance I realised that, even though they are very poor, they somehow resemble people. And that's more than I think I could achieve now-a drawing that actually looks like what it's supposed to. Or is it? Afterall, it was the same hands which drew those lines and contours that now resist even holding a pencil. Could I train them to draw? Or is it a case of 'you either have it or you don't'? Should I go to WHSmith's tomorrow and purchase a sketch pad and pencil, and see what happens? Or should I save my time and energy to continue trying to discover a talent I already have but don't know about yet?

(I always like to include a photo or an illustration with a blog entry and it seems apt to include the drawings I discovered tonight. Yes, they're laughable but bear in mind that it took quite a lot of courage to post these on my blog so it might be nicer to keep any unkind comments or hysterics out of earshot, even if this blog is about how dreadful I am at art!)


  1. I can't draw either, the little things I can is just enough to keep me floating but I'm completely lost in the world of acrylics, water colours and shading. But I do think that one can train in drawing to a certain level. I will never be artsy enough to understand why a line and an dot is ART only if it's painted by Miro but not if it's painted by a two year old child.

    I think you're a bit hard on yourself, this pictures have potential and they make me think of all of those pictures I drew of a class photo. The face was the fun part to draw, with the eyes, the nose and the mouth. And the rest I lazily doodled into the picture as some sort of filling.

    You should se some of my stuff I've made through the years, the funniest of them is a watercolour of a man's face.. I always had issues with the thinking of "a lot of water and just a little bit of colour" and in a frustrated moment in school I thought "Water?! She will have water!!" and drenched the picture with water and even smudged around a wet spounge around it. It is so ugly that I'm ashamed and what did my teacher do? She put it on the wall and sad that it was excellent.

    Just a little story that makes us realise that you shouldn't listen to much to teachers. =)

  2. As Alv said, I think you have potential. And I think every person with a sense of beauty and a concept of images (you have both) can learn to draw, even really good at the end.

    I think talent does two things; it can make someone great instead of good and it makes it easier to learn. On the other hand it can make one lazy too. I know I have talent for it, but I have never practiced enough to actually be at the level I could be now.

    People are the hardest, some say, and tell to begin with scetching houses and landscapes. I think that is harder, so I guess it depends from person to person.

    And you have something there. So if you really want to draw or paint - do it. You will get frustrated, but you will learn.

    Most handbooks in drawing starts out with very simple things like "draw a circle until you can do it correctly" or "draw a straight line" and then onto apples and shadows. That can be very boring, you don't have to draw anything in perticular, just draw, that is all that matters.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. I am now the owner of a sketch pad and a small selection of pencils and graphite pencils. I have drawn one thing (which wasn't good, even though it was only a still life) but I quite enjoyed the challenge..

  4. I saw your attempt (if it was the one uploaded on the photo challenge) and it is not bad at all. I think you have it, you just don't know it yet. Just a bit of practise and you will be really, really good!

    Actually... I should practise more too.

  5. You draw people much better than I do. I want to improve my drawing so I'm practicing.