Is This Your Year to Become a Draw-er?

OK, if you’re one of those people who draws every day and can whip out a remarkable likeness of a squirrel or a train engine while simultaneously figuring your taxes and talking to your child’s teacher on the phone, fine. We love you, but you’re making the rest of us gnash our teeth.

For years, I thought I was the only adult who really, really wanted to draw but was just totally, totally bad at it. Oh, sure–I know *how* to draw–I know about learning to see and about blind contour drawings and about turning your paper upside down. I know about all of that, and the truth is that if I sit down and really look at something and go very, very slowly, I can, indeed, draw.

But that’s not what I want to do. I want to sketch. I want to whip out those charming little squirrels wearing bow ties. I want to fill Moleskine (that’s mole-eh-skeen-ah) sketchbooks with page after page of drawings done during my morning commute on the bus. Never mind there’s no morning commute, much less a bus. The longing is there, and I’ve discovered I’m far from alone in wishing this were my habit.

The good news is that there’s help for us, for all of us. There are books and articles, online workshops and tutorials, classes at art retreats–all designed to help those of us who think we *can’t* draw realize we actually *can.* Do a search for “how to draw,” and see what you come up with.

But beyond that, there’s one simple key to learning how to be one of those people who carries around a sketchbook and draws constantly. Want to guess what it is? It’s being one of those people who carries around a sketchbook and draws constantly. If you want to do it, you have to do it. Those people you see drawing all the time can do that because they’ve been drawing all the time. Back when the rest of the kids decided they couldn’t draw? Those people were the kids who kept right on drawing, making doodles in the margins of their algebra tests and creating cartoons for the school newspaper. They just kept doing it, and they keep on doing it. That’s what they do, and that’s what we have to do, too, if we want to be Draw-ers.

Don’t say, “But my drawings don’t look anything like theirs!” because you know why that is: ย they’ve got a head start on you because they never quit. It’s going to take a while to catch up, but the good news is that the practice will be fun. Frustrating, sure–that, too. But fun nevertheless. It won’t cost you a bunch of money, and it will take only the amount of time you’re willing to spend. The very best news is that you can do it anywhere–you did it in grade school when you were supposed to be coloring maps, so think how easy it will be to do it during meetings and when you’re on hold and when you’re sitting at home, as I am today, waiting for the plumber to come tell you how much it’s going to cost to replace the hot water heater. You can do it anywhere, and doing it will make your life so much richer. So get yourself a little notebook or a pad of paper or one of those spiral notebooks lying around the house. Find a pen or a pencil or some crayons, and draw something. Anything. Then do it again, and again. Take classes if you like. Watch video tutorials. Buy books. But whatever you do, just draw.

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7 Responses to Is This Your Year to Become a Draw-er?

  1. Jeannie says:

    Rice, you wrote this article for me. I know you did. Thanks

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Of course I did! (And for me, and for this other person I know, and for some other people who’ve maybe mentioned they want to draw, and for. . . .I think you and I are maybe not alone in this.)

  2. debdugan says:

    I couldn’t have said it better! Once I figured out that in order to draw in my sketchbook I had to, um, have it with me (!), I started to draw all the time! Amazing. Great post!


    Deb D.

  3. ivy says:

    OMGosh, You are so right on… I keep telling myself the same thing, but somehow never commit to the practice. I just want to wake up one day and be able to draw a masterpiece!!!! Maybe to the untrained, uncritical eye they

  4. cherissemi says:

    I have been drawing (not too consistantly) for all of my life. Last year I even did a couple of portraits for christmas presents, but how is this for motivation….my darling hubby committed me to doing TWELVE portraits for his cast of an upcoming play! Talk about the kick in the butt I needed ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s to a gentle…or not so gentle, nudge to get started!!!

  5. Dora says:

    I am one of the people about whom you have written! Why I think that I should be able to draw without practice is ludicrous when every thing else that I am successful in has required practice makes no sense. Yet here I sit. I guess this is the year that I”ll either have to put in the time or stop lamenting my inability to draw!

  6. Emily says:

    Back before a full time career and then having twins I used to carry a small sketch book and my pocket watercolor kit and 3×5 ripped sheets of watercolor paper. I took a watercolor workshop in Mendocino where my instructor said if I really wanted to improve, I had to paint everyday. At the time I was a working college student, she said this was no excuse and got me started on the postcard daily paintings. I sketched and painted everywhere. I am slowly getting back into that habit and oh how I missed this part of myself for the last few years!