I can’t count the number of times I’ve told people I’m an artist or asked them to do some art with me for fun and gotten the response “I can’t draw,” or “I like to paint but I’m not good at it.” It seems like people jump to this conclusion about themselves because they are unknowingly making a really bad comparison- while they think they are comparing their talents to the talents of their artist friends, they are actually comparing the time and effort they put in to the time and effort their artist friends put in- meaning they are comparing their worst work to their friend’s best work.
To the people who say they can’t draw but like to, I generally tell them they probably haven’t really tried. I’ve seen the sort of time these people put in to making a piece of art, and I’ll tell you right now- if I made artwork that quickly, I would also think I suck at art. It takes a long time to make a full drawing or painting from start to finish. (This is not a knock to the people who don’t put in time. But if you do, you’ll realize you’re better than you thought you were.)
People also assume they are bad at art because they can’t just sit down and draw something from memory. Hey, neither can I. Artists use references. Just yesterday I was talking with my mom’s boyfriend about this and I insisted he couldn’t draw a cat or dolphin from memory. The ensuing cat doodle was a burton-esque wrong-handed-style stiff outline of something vaguely dog-like, and the dolphin was evidently so bad that instead of showing it to us, he crumpled the paper and stuffed it in his mouth. I promise my cat would have been little better. The dolphin probably would have looked sort of like a dolphin, but that is specifically because I’ve looked up pictures of dolphins so many times to use as art references that I have their shape nearly memorized by now. Ah, I give myself too much credit. I was curious so I just tried it, and here is what I came up with. At least it would suffice in pictionary.
And here’s my one-minute no-reference-used cat. Actually a little better than I expected. I think my art has improved since the last time I tried this (I’ve been drawing animals for a while now. Yay, time and effort!), though this is still nothing I’d use in any form for a finished piece.
These are the errors in thinking that lead people to believe that they can’t do art. If that’s how you think art is made- in a few minutes with no reference images, then as you can see, you’re not alone. I can’t do art either.
But when these same people take the time and sit down with me to do art slowly, or take a lesson at one of those wine-and-paint classes, what they produce, while maybe not professional level, usually shows their natural ability for choosing colors, copying images and nature and still life, and good basic instincts for using paintbrushes.
So if you are one of those people who think they can’t do art, maybe think again. If you’re interested, take a class, or search for a “DIY art” on pinterest. There are tons of really great projects for beginners, and everyone is coachable. I think everyone has a little natural talent for something- one of my talents happens to be art- but I certainly didn’t start at the level I am now, and I certainly hope that I don’t remain at this level forever. Absolutely everybody can improve, whether it seems they have a natural talent or not. Some with no “natural talent” can easily overtake someone with tons of “natural talent” if they put in more effort. If you want to do art, you can do art, and you can, with time and persistence, get really, really good at it.
As Jake the Dog once said, “Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.”