23 September 2009
It is a SKILL, not a TALENT.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that life drawing is a fantastic talent to have. I agree, it would be a fantastic talent to have.... if it were a talent. Which it is not. It's a skill. It can be taught, and frankly, it's not that hard to learn. I suppose it's possible that talent could make it a little easier or faster to learn... but it's also possible that talent makes it MORE difficult to learn, because it seems like it should be easier for an artistically talented person.
For me.... it's more difficult.
Here's why: For a lot of what I like to do artistically, practice isn't a big part of success. Yes, I get better as I do things more often, but in essence, I like the first try, too. This is not the case for life drawing. I get very frustrated with my life drawing skills, and I know it is because I don't practice. I've taken classes, I've read really excellent books about this. I've done a ton of professionally designed exercises. And yet.... I still suck if I don't have step by step guidance. And it's because I don't practice enough.
What you are looking at up above is (left) a drawing of my own hand I made 3 weeks ago, and (right) a drawing of my hand I made this morning, following the explicit instructions in a book by Betty Edwards called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Workbook. If you want to learn to draw, check out her books. They are excellent. The workbook is a really good hand-holder for those of us who are unbelievable slackasses about the practice part of it.