Resistance to Art

Not knowing everything is embarrassing for some people.

As a recovering perfectionist, I get that completely irrational, ego saving nonsense.

When I hear artists interrupting, trying to beat an instructor answering a question, or explaining their way of doing things that somehow got them a crappy drawing and refusing to try another way, it’s all I can do to remain silent and model-y. From an outside perspective, figure drawing seems like it should be easy: just draw what you see.

Actually, figure drawing is hard. And perfectionism puts a stranglehold on the ability to learn, thus leading to more frustration on the part of the artist and me the model listening. So I wrote out something that I think might help people get over their impulses to defend their inexplicable inability to draw like Leonardo da Vinci in their first class.

Drawing and art do not have to do with intellectualism or being smart. They have to do with learning how to see.

You may expect to progress more quickly because other new areas of knowledge may have come more easily to you.

Accept that this may not.
Accept that learning to draw is a process.
Accept that everyone will do horrible drawings. (Yes, even you.) Treat yourself gently.

Allow yourself to listen to the instructor and try suggestions, even if (or especially if) they don’t make sense at all or are outside your comfort zone.

The instructor has been through this process of learning how to see, understands how difficult it is, and is there guide you and help you. Don’t be afraid to do what feels unnatural.

What is important is doing the work. Draw. That is the only way to get better.

When you walk into the studio, leave all perfectionist or “having standards” tendencies behind. Your job is to do the work, not judge the work.

Keep drawing. Keep listening. You will get better. And eventually, it will be art.

“A drawing is never done, it just stops in an interesting place.”


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