2/28/07

No Artistic Ability Required

My latest assignment for Creative Process, reading Drawing on the Artist Within and doing some drawings, has given me some serious food for thought. Let me ask you this: can you draw? If you said no, why is that? Maybe you think you have no artistic talent, but here's the thing - according to the author, that has nothing to do with it! Drawing is not (necessarily) art. It's a skill, like writing, that can be learned by any normally functioning human being. Children are taught to write; we don't expect the skill to spring fully formed from their creative inner nature. We don't worry that teaching them to write will squash their native artistic skills. Writing is a tool. What's so different about drawing? The author's claim is that we think of it differently because drawing is a visual skill, whereas writing is verbal. The process for learning to draw may be different than that of learning to write, but it is no less attainable. I should say that by "drawing" I mean "producing a realistic likeness." Remember, drawing is not art, the same way a middle schooler's essay is not literature. Drawing is the technical skill used to produce art, just as writing is the means to producing literature. It is teachable and learnable. The author's claim is that the only block to your learning to draw is that you can't see correctly - your left brain gets in the way. It doesn't really look at objects; it recognizes and names them. To draw something, you need to really look at it to see the shapes, lines and shadows it is composed of - the right brain's strength. I won't summarize the book for you in this post, but I strongly recommend reading it. Next time you catch yourself saying "I can't draw," remember that you could - you just need to learn!