I’ve been meaning to write this bicycle story up and post here for awhile now… a question came yesterday during the Silly Workshop which propelled me to actually DO IT! So I wanted to copy it here as well, in case any of you are also experiencing insecure feelings around your drawing skills, and might need a little “pep talk.”


About Drawing
I’ve wondered a lot about how and why we have such high expectations for ourselves when it comes to drawing. It could be a generational thing. Many of us who are older than 40 were “taught” that only those who could draw like Norman Rockwell, for example, were “artists.” Then many of us stopped drawing at all in 3rd or 4th grade and labeled ourselves as someone who “can’t draw.”

The truth is, drawing is a journey, a process, and a skill to be developed and enjoyed over time. Try to think of it like learning a language; you start taking a Spanish class, for example, and learn a few words or phrases. You struggle with the accent. Every once in awhile you come out with a sentence that is both grammatically correct AND the proper accent — yay!

But, if you’ve only been trying to learn Spanish for a few weeks, you would hardly expect yourself to be fluent…. It’s the same with drawing: Think of your animal drawing (for example) as a “word” or the profile of a human face as another “word.” Pretty soon, when you have said it/drawn it enough times, it will start to be part of your “vocabulary” and will flow out more effortlessly. In the beginning, though, you have to keep looking it up in the dictionary!

But even though many of you are in the early learning stages, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it!

To illustrate: Recently I got a new bicycle, and I haven’t ridden a bicycle in about 10 years. I felt embarrassed and clumsy the first time I went out on it, especially when my husband took me up a hill and I had to GET OFF AND WALK THE BIKE… ugh!

I spent the next month riding by myself around the nearby lake, staying away from any hills (no WAY was I going to go up that Punishment Hill again!). I quickly realized this truth: Even though I might never be “great” on the bicycle, I could still enjoy the flat parts! This was a huge breakthrough for me and it applies to learning to draw (or anything you else you might like to learn): whatever your level, you can “enjoy the flat parts.” (Does this make sense?)

But wait, there’s MORE to the story!

After about a month on the new bike, I noticed that, even though the terrain was basically flat, there was enough variance in the road that I could tell my legs were getting stronger… a little. So I decided that day to try going up the Punishment Hill to see how far I would get. I know you already know that I RODE RIGHT UP THE HILL.

Lesson: Try to approach your drawings like you might riding a bicycle; even though you can always get into “better shape,” that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an easy ride around the lake (and in the process, get in “better” shape)!

* * *
I guess my main point is to be gentle with yourself. Many of you are navigating new terrain, and are feeling “clumsy” and “embarrassed.” Really, this is a fairly normal feeling WHENEVER we try something new!

I hope this helps!!