Looking at this drawing “it is not quite right!” – it is a bit off centre and ‘wonky’. I can see that it isn’t and have posted it to highlight that things go wrong – not everything drawing/artwork you produce will be a success nor should it be. If you have that everything should be prefect then as in life you will be disappointed. So if it doesn’t work, file it in you arts journal etc, make some notes & maybe even have another go! The old saying is ‘practice makes perfect’ – well maybe not perfect but hopefully an improvement!
The secret is to be able to see the mistakes and then either fix them – or as in the case of this drawing which was beyond ‘going back’ noting what was wrong and possibilities in ‘fixing’ it. You can be sure that the next time I draw an emu I will take the ‘wrongness’ on board and seek to remedy it.
On the other hand, the wonky ‘wrongness’ goes with my image of these quite odd and unusual birds! This could be exploited to emphasise the ‘personality’ of the bird – especially from an illustration perspective. That being said, the purpose of the image and what an artist was trying to achieve is important – if you want to have a scientific illustration of an emu’s head this drawing simply would not do!
My aim was simply to draw an emu’s head and play around with a few ideas – there are aspects to this drawing I like but I also do like to ‘get it right’ in relation to things like his beak!
This is such an important thing for art students to understand – many students give up with the cry “I can’t draw” because they instantly want to be able to create realistic lifelike drawings around the 10 – 15 years age group without any practice. They will often carry this notion throughout their lives. When this just doesn’t happen then the “I can’t draw” and the giving up happens.
I always say if you can put a mark on a page you’re drawing! You may not be a Picasso but drawing is a skill that you can learn if you choose to pursue you can improve and sometimes may surprise yourself by actually succeeding.
I believe that drawing can be a process of visual memory – the more you draw a particular subject and commit it to your visual memory the easier it becomes to draw each time you approach the same or similar subjects.
I make the analogy with learning the scales on the piano – they can be boring, definitely repetitive but absolutely necessary – understanding scales and keys in music is a core skill in playing any instrument. Repetition with ‘intention’ – in other words you are paying attention and actually seeing to improve – is essential no matter the task. In drawing a subject matter repetition with intention gives you an ever-increasing knowledge and ease with the subject matter.
I believe repeat drawing a subject matter and the ability to draw is a core art making skill. That is not to say that those who have not pursued this skill are not able to still produce wonderful work but having a strong base of drawing or draughtsmanship generally gives you a greater toolbox to draw upon in developing arts practice. It is also a lifetime skill that I don’t think ever ends – improving ones ability to represent a 3D subject in a 2D form and then being able to extend beyond the representational into abstraction or design work is intriguing and endlessly challenging!
I strongly believe the developing drawing skills is the single most important skill an artist can develop. Going to drawing classes with others just to draw – either guided or unguided – is a great way to increasingly develop your ability. Whether they be life drawing, still life, plein air, botanical or whatever subject takes your fancy, so long as you are drawing and working on developing your skills by practice you will find it increases your skills as an artist. Even if it takes a while for your eye to hand to paper co-ordination to develop the first step is actually ‘seeing’ more. All the great artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, Monet, Norman Lindsey, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whitely, Ken Done, Margaret Olley, Maragret Preston etc…all began with drawing and all are absolute master draughtsmen (people). Drawing skills underly their work even if that work is abstract – the ability to see more, be able to represent the image and take it into abstraction in a valid and spectacular way over a sustained lifetime of work is what underpins all these great artists and makes them timeless.
So quite simply – draw.
Copyright – Lynette Weir