I was wondering if you could offer me your opinion on something. Is drawing a talent that can be learned or is it an innate ability that can only be built/improved upon?
Well, for reference my first drawings that I published online all looked something like this:
That was from about when I was 13. After drawing a lot back then and refusing to do much studying or practice, I just gave up. I didn’t draw for years, I totally rejected the idea of drawing because I felt I wasn’t any good. And that held me back a lot. It wasn’t until I graduated high school in 2011 that I decided I’d really take art seriously. I decided on Art School entirely last minute. My drawings around this point in my life still weren’t quite exactly where I’d wanted them to be:
Again, I kept refusing to study for a couple months but I’d sort-of learned to imitate a very vague representation of reality through hundreds of trials-and-errors that some studies could have sorted out so much quicker. I’d had it in my head that if I actually tried to study that I would try my hardest and still wouldn’t be good enough — and that was a hard thing to tackle. It’d be soul-crushing, but I was being naive and I learned to recognize it.
By the end of the summer I did tackle that fear, and began studying like crazy. I admit the amount of work I put into drawing was probably nearing the point of being unhealthy, but I enjoyed it and was happy with my results.
"I did this from reference, I’m not quite at the point where I can draw an eye like this from imagination but I have faith that with enough practice I’ll get there." Is part of the caption to that image.
Let’s fast-forward to when I joined Tumblr in February 2012:
I’d basically started from making wobbly circles in MSPaint to being able to sketch something to this degree. I’m still proud of it ‘cause it really made me think “Wow… I’d really come a long way!”
Then there’s one of my more recent quick-ish sloppy color studies:
And I still feel that I have a long way to go! But, I can definitely acknowledge that I’ve improved over the years from making squiggly circle-people for Gaia Online.
Back then I had no idea what I was doing, and it showed. There was no “talent” to be had there. I feel safe in saying that anyone could copy that first image pretty easily. If I had my sketchbooks from 5th grade around I could show all of the points that I’d traced — because those were the only things that ever looked mildly good. But I stuck with it ‘cause I enjoyed it, not because I particularly felt it was my thing, I didn’t really feel a sense of calling, but just did it because I could make it my thing. I suppose that dream never really died ‘cause here I am still doing it 10-11 years later.
The sense of meaning and intent behind the art came later and was something I developed on my own as well from figuring out what I like and what I want to depict — and that’s always changing!
Drawing takes time. A lot of time, because you’re never really done with it. You don’t only learn to draw, you learn how you draw. And that’s something artists never stop doing. You’re never really ever finished. It’s definitely something you learn to do better-and-better, and I think almost everyone can learn to do it if they set their minds to it and put in the work! We all start from somewhere, I haven’t met an artist who hasn’t put in a lot of work to get to where they are, even if a lot of that work was early on when they were very young.
Some people naturally pick things up faster, some naturally put in more work, some do both, some go slowly at their own pace — and all of them can improve and become better-and-better. All of them can be phenomenal at drawing. So sorry for going off on a bit of a life story, but I think it holds enough evidence that it isn’t something you have so much as something that you learn, at least in my case. And personally, I think that’s exciting!