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The 3 Main Reasons Why You Can’t Draw

  • By: Michelle Brown
  • Date: October 2, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

What if I told you, you talk too much

Talking and drawing don’t mix.

The main problem associated with withdrawing is when you talk, you engage your logical, language-dominated left side of the brain. This side of your brain is keen on knowing an object’s name, labeling it, and organizing it.

Often when learning to draw, you need to temporarily hold off judgment and try not to second guess what you think the object should look like, rather than what the thing actually looks like.

When trying to draw something realistically, you have to engage your right-hand side of the brain, which is keener on images and spatial perception.

It’s tough to do both at the same time.

Why?

Because it causes the mind to freeze.

Have you ever been in a creative zone of absorption, a state where time travels quickly, and you are in what psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow?’

How Does It Feel to Be in Flow?

Completely involved in what we are doing– focused, concentrated.

A sense of ecstasy– of being outside everyday reality.

Great inner clarity– knowing what needs to be done and how well we are doing.

Knowing that the activity is doable– that skills are adequate to the task.

A sense of serenity– no worries about oneself and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.

Timelessness– thoroughly focused on the present, our sin to pass by in minutes.

Intrinsic motivation– whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

Flow is the mental state when you are fully immersed in an activity, a feeling of total involvement and energy.

You can get to this stage of involvement while drawing … until you get interrupted.

The combination of left and right battling against each other makes trying to draw tricky.

You can learn to talk and draw at the same time, but it takes practice.

It all starts by understanding how your mind works and how you can be subconsciously sabotaging your best efforts.

You have a harsh inner critic.

You can learn to draw; you just might not believe it, which is often the first stumbling block to attaining a new skill.

Drawing is as much a mental game as an observational game.

Sure, you need a basic skill level to hold a pencil and make a mark but not as much as you may think. It’s about the same level of skill as signing your name or throwing and catching a ball.

However, your subconscious mind is mighty, and it can play havoc with your best efforts when learning this new skill.

You see, your subconscious is already telling you this can’t be true.

Changing your internal script

Often successes in our lives stem from our own internal beliefs. And these can be crippling both in your progress as an artist or in any other area of your life.

” Well-meaning, intelligent people often resort to repeating self-defeating behavior in their personal and professional lives,”

Robert Brooks, Ph.D., and Sam Goldstein, author of The Power of Resilience.

If you keep on thinking you can’t draw, you won’t.

As you try to draw something realistically and it starts to go ‘wrong,’ your inner critic starts to rear it.

Often drawings start off really well, and you observe things accurately; it’s only when you get to a perceived ‘tricky’ bit you start to question yourself.

The truth is you have probably started to ‘make up the rest of the drawing and have stopped observing, relying on what you think it looks like.

In comes, the inner critic and says:

” That doesn’t look like a boat, give up now; it seems like a kid’s done it.”

So what we have to do is stop labeling objects and start to look more abstract.

You label the object too much.

Isn’t this correct?

You should be looking and labeling the object; you should be really concentrating on it; that is what you have to do, right?

Well, yes and no.

When I’m drawing a bottle, I don’t remove the bottle.

I draw the shapes around the bottle, and then the bottle is marked for me.

Confused?

Let me explain some more.

All edges in a drawing are shared advantages; you can not draw a line without sharing two borders.

Imagine drawing the bottom of a boat, one straight horizontal line.

That line now shares an edge with the bottom of the boat and the water.

One line, two edges.

That boat you were having trouble with is just a series of lines and shapes.

How I draw

So if I draw the space around a bottle, it shares an edge with room and the bottle, so the bottle is drawn by me, not removing it.

In the drawing, you are constantly trying to disassociate from labeling natural objects, so your logical left brain can’t try to tell you how to draw what it recognizes.

It seems wrong, it looks backward, but this is why you can’t draw.

To see like an artist, you have to learn to make a cognitive shift from left brain to right brain.

If you keep talking to yourself, engaging your inner critic, you will be firing up the left brain.

Ever wonder why Jackson Pollack drank a lot of Bourbon, Van Gogh absinthe? Alcohol calms you down; you’re not as self-critical.

So although I’m not suggesting you hit the bar before getting out your pencils, just try to be aware of the internal ‘voice’ that will hinder your progress.

Drawing is a paradox.

To see something as an artist sees it, you have to look at its abstract elements.

Try not to focus solely on the object; try not to label a thing but just see it as simple shapes.

Abstract elements once drawn become real in front of your eyes, and the left brain will then fire up to make sense of the shapes and label them.

A brief overview of left brain right brain.

A right-brain outlook on life can give you a holistic view, where left-brainers are often more detail-oriented.

Left-brain thinkers focus on the logical, rational, sequential, and analytical, while right-brainers prefer more random, holistic, and free-associated approaches.

Psychologists say that left-brainers focus on words and numbers while right-brain people focus on visual images and patterns.

Right brain thinkers make lateral associations while left-brain people make logical deductions from the information.

Most people are a mix between the two. Do any of these character traits seem familiar?

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses logic

detail-oriented

facts rule

words and language

present and the past

math and science

can comprehend

knowing

acknowledges

order/pattern perception

knows object name

reality-based

forms strategies

practical

safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses feeling

” big picture” oriented

imagination rules

symbols and images

present and future

philosophy & religion

can “get it” (i.e., meaning).

Believes.

Appreciates.

Spatial perception.

Knows object function.

Fantasy-based.

Presents possibilities.

Impetuous.

Risk-taking.

Drawing is a learnable skill.

Before and after drawing.

This is an example of one of my students ‘Before’ and ‘After’ on my beginners drawing course– this is the same mug pulled 4 weeks apart!

Like every other activity, your skills will improve as you learn basic principles and get some practice.

The key to drawing, just like learning to write, is good foundational instruction and then working until you own it.

No one said it would be easy; nothing worth doing is. Yet, just because it is challenging does not mean that you will be excellent with time and hard work.

How to learn to draw (without years of study).

I believe anyone can learn how to draw accurately and realistically– without years of grueling study.

I’ve developed an easy-to-follow, 7 Part, online downloadable video course to help frustrated artists really understand how drawing works.

You will go on a creative journey to learn how to ‘see like an artist.

You will learn how to confidently pick up a pencil and draw any scene in front of you.

Imagine gaining a new perspective on the world, ‘seeing’ drawings and compositions around all of you!

I want to give you a clear explanation and logical progression, so anyone can learn the concepts and techniques of drawing.

With over 3 hours + of video tuition, I want you to have that ‘a-ha’ moment and really ‘get drawing.’

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