"I can't draw a circle." - an anonymous guest at one of my events
I began my instruction at one of my recent art events by making a simple request - "Draw a circle". One guest looked at me in utter exasperation and said, "I can't draw a circle". She then firmly set aside her pencil and looked at her sheet of paper with an expression of utter defeat. She was done. She left the class 5 minutes later.
I must admit that at first I was dismayed by her attitude, her lack of confidence in her ability, and her refusal to make an effort. I wasn't even sure what to say at the time. How did she get to this point in her life where she didn't even feel able to draw a circle?
After some reflection, I have more empathy. We all learned how to draw circles, triangles and squares in grade school. We also drew, painted, and sculpted. I think we all felt like creative little beings to some degree. At some point, some of us were singled out as having some special artistic skill. The rest were given the impression that they were not artists and never would be.
After that, many of you "non-artists" put away your crayons and never attempted anything artistic for years. Years, maybe decades, later you show up at a painting event like mine, and are asked to have a glass of wine, follow instructions, and create a painting in two hours. I understand this task can be a bit daunting for those of you who are perfectionists, fear failure, lack artistic confidence, and/or haven't touched a paintbrush for years. Some of you might feel like giving up and saying, "I can't draw a circle".
Maybe you should just take a step back - maybe a lot of steps back. Maybe you should start by drawing a circle. Get back to the basics. Every famous artist, even abstract and impressionists, began with a good foundation in the basics - studying form, drawing shapes, adding contour, shading, and contrast. The good news is that your art skills can improve with instruction and practice according to some experts in the field and supported by this article in Live Science. How do you get back to basics?
1. Learn from a talented instructor. The advantage of being physically present in a class with a real, live artist rather than taking courses online is that you will get one-on-one guidance, feedback, and possibly access to expensive supplies so you can skip an initial investment. If you are local to the Raleigh, NC area, I suggest enrolling in the Joy of Paint Learn to Draw series. Instructor, Christa, is talented, patient, and provides tea and coffee at her spacious studio. Best yet, your first class is only $10. Tell her I sent you.
2. Try free online drawing classes. Again, I want to stress that having a real live instructor is much more effective, but if you can't find a class to fit your schedule there are some great basic lessons out there. For starters, see how to draw and shade a circle on this instructional website.
3. My third suggestion is to practice, practice, practice. Keep a sketchbook handy and use it on a daily basis. Read this article on tips for improving your skill so you'll know what to do with your sketchbook. It just so happens, that when I was in AC Moore last week, I noticed that all sketchbooks were deeply discounted. I picked up a couple to brush up on my own skills. Now is your chance. Seize the day!
4. Continue to come to the paint events offered by me and other artists and watch as your skills and confidence grow. I'd love it if you'd report back to me on your successes.
P.S. You can easily draw a circle by tracing around a saucer or other round object;)