Now that I am full on in parental leave mode I’ve tried to find small refuges of peace amidst all the chaos and destruction that is parenting. One such oasis is drawing.
Since the nature of taking care of a small child is that you can’t have any expectations about anything - life will go to shit at any time - it is nearly impossible to devote a consistent block of time to an activity. Activities that are easy to pick up or drop at a moment’s notice are thus pretty much the only thing left for the full-time parent (unless one wants to drown in a sea of frustration). Which brings me back to drawing, super chill, low effort, can pick quickly and drop it at the sound of a crying baby banshee.
I still wanted to have some kind of coaching or structure to my drawing so I picked up a book: You will be able to draw faces by the end of this book. It is gorgeous. If I were a book, I’d love to be that book. It’s a hybrid between a book and a sketchbook, bound in a vibrant orange cover, smooth to the touch, closed with a thick white rubber band that you can take on and off, and filled with beautiful sketches. I’ll share some pictures when I get some life energy back from the vampires. The great thing about this book (and those in the same series) is that it is a sketch book with lots of space to practice your drawing as you go along.
What prompted me to write this small article is not the drawing itself but what’s in the first few pages of the book. Author Jack Spicer spends the first pages of the book helping you get into a mindset that is conductive to learning. Focus on the process, not the outcome. And not only focus on the process. Take pleasure in it.
The ability to draw isn’t a result of talent, but an application of skill. In the same way that anybody can learn to play the ukulele, anybody can learn to draw - it just takes time and application. Innate talent might provide an initial head start, but it will never get you as far as dedicated practice; there aren’t people who find drawing effortless and others who find it challenging - everybody struggles at first. Some people enjoy the struggle and the learning that accompanies it, whilst others give up. Take pleasure in the process, and don’t fixate on the outcome.
Be aware that your goals and your expectations of good aesthetics will allways be ahead of your own ability. That disparity is what should drive you to try again and be better (although it often discourages us).
Your goals will always advance ahead of your ability and it is this that will drive you to make better drawings, to become more curious about what you see, and to explore the potential of drawn marks.
These are both great ideas to bring on whenever you practice that next thing you’re trying to learn be it drawing, coding or a new language.
Even more so in today’s world, where we’re all more or less drowning in social media. We’re always looking at some final product of some kind, a great drawing, song, sketch, or an app. A very common format, specially for art is a accelerated timelapse of producing a beautiful drawing. You look at it and it looks so easy, so effortless, so, very, fast. This bombardment builds a humongous baggage of expectations so that when you start drawing yourself (or producing any type of content) you are likely to give up as reality sets on. All the hours, weeks, months and years of practice, the hours working on a piece of art are missing from that 10 second instagram video that looks so perfect.
Take pleasure in the process. Make peace with the fact that your goals will always advanced ahead of your ability. Let that drive you to become better and enjoy the journey.
As I was writing this note to myself I found out that there’s a bunch of other books in the same series. I’m so getting these:
Written by Jaime González García , dad, husband, software engineer, ux designer, amateur pixel artist, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You can also find him on Twitter jabbering about random stuff.