When I say I’m scared of drawing, people either think I’m joking or fishing for compliments, but the truth is I haven’t really felt comfortable drawing ever since my first formal lesson at the age of ten. Until then, it had always been something I’d practiced instinctively, without too much thought. In fact, it was a way for me to get a thought out of my head and into the open, where I could see it. Sort of like thinking out loud, only with a crayon or stick. Mark making was just another form of communication to me, using all kinds of tools and symbols
My teacher (a very stern elderly nun) would make us sit for hours copying etchings from dusty old art books. This kind of “Drawing” felt neither instinctive nor natural. Suddenly, Drawing (with a capital D) meant staring at the tortured or rapturous faces of deities, disciples, gladiators and martyrs. I came to think of it as a very serious and important business, for very serious and important people; people with very important-sounding names like Rembrandt, Michael Angelo, Caravaggio, and Leonardo da Vinci. In my ten-year-old mind there wasn’t much hope for a Sally. I became very disheartened. “Drawing” wasn’t at all what I’d thought it to be, and I decided that it was probably best left to professionals.
Fast forward several lifetimes later and I am STILL struggling to overcome this ridiculous blockage! In an attempt to loosen up and rewire my brain, I’ve started taking random requests. I give myself between 2 to 5 minutes and sketch on the spot, without time to over-think it. I find it helps to draw on lined or scrap paper as white “drawing paper” gives me stage fright! The first marks are always a bit hesitant, but then I tell myself that I’m not creating Art, just making marks to convey a message. writing with pictures
The very first request was: “a family of cows around a table, eating a human“!! We were sitting in a bistro at the time. Our meals arrived before I could draw more than one cow, so I compromised by hanging a family portrait in the background. It was meant to be funny but it’s actually a pretty gruesome image. No more disturbing, I suppose, than a human slicing into a dead cow, but still …. it definitely made me think a bit. Later, I used photoshop to remove the background and create a more “finished” image.
…. and so on.
I now have a waiting list of requests that I’m terrified of tackling, but every time I push through the fear I find the process incredibly liberating and, most importantly, FUN!