I haven’t always been a great artist. Actually, I haven’t always been an artist! I drew a lot growing up, and then stopped, and then started again. But if by being an artist, you mean being a professional in the arts section, well that was much later.
So can anyone be an Artist? The short answer is: yes! The Long answer? Keep reading.
Developing Artistic “Talent”
Talent is overrated.
I’ve said it!
In fact, I’ve been saying this over and over again. It just doesn’t matter that much. Sure there are people that, as small children, started drawing wonderful things, fantastic worlds and creatures!
But that’s not just because of your DNA, it’s because of what you experienced as a child.
Maybe they watched a lot of fantasy cartoons, or their mother and father traveled a lot and exposed them to a bunch of different types of places from Camping to City, to a Farm!
Maybe they had a super cool friend who they could talk about and make their own characters. These are just experiences that you had or you didn’t have.
It’s all a matter of what you’re exposed to while growing up and how much space and time you had for imagination.
This doesn’t mean that there’s a time window for this and that once you grow up, you missed your chance.
No. Drawing is a skill and as such, it needs to be worked.
It needs lots of practice and learning. The artists you see that seem like a prodigy?
They’ve been doing this for quite some time. Some have been studying art since their childhood.
They might be a bit further along the line, compared to you. Compared to me even! But that doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. It’s never too late.
All you need is dedication, motivation and lots of practice!
So do you want to develop your Artistic Talent?
Actually, no, enough of “Talent”!
Do you want to Develop your Artistic Skills? Here’s how.
Open Your Mind, Everyone is a Genius
Have confidence in yourself.
Did you know that Albert Einstein, this great genius, would lose himself walking home from work pretty much every day? Talk about embarrassing. Yet he was a genius.
No one is a genius all the time, sometimes you’re just not in the right mindset. So relax, look at everything around you and think about the details one at a time.
See that Keyboard in your Computer?
Imagine each individual key would pop out and stack themselves in pile after pile, one next to another, like tall buildings in a tiny little city right in front of you.
Or a glass of water with cubes of ice could be a vast sea of the Northern Pole with icebergs all around.
Don’t stress things out, let your Creativity flow and make your own worlds out of ordinary things. Keep an open mind.
This is the secret to drawing. Just take things slow and relax.
You don’t need to pick up a pencil and draw right away a finished and perfect Mona Lisa. No, start small. Small and simple lines, you never know when those lines will get you something else.
From there, just sketch simple shapes, sketch different sceneries, animals, people and even monsters.
As you clear your mind, creativity and imagination will guide your hand and you can end up with interesting concepts, without even thinking about it!
If you’re unsure what to draw, do this exercise.
Start with simple lines, then shapes, the actual creatures and people, give them clothes, stories, places they could be and names.
This is always a good way to start your drawing section!
Quitting Before you Get Started
Your rational side tries to tell you that you don’t have any artistic talent so you shouldn’t even try.
Many people say “I wish I could draw like that”. Well, then start today!
Instead of letting your mind go to the negative side, think along the lines of: “What do I need to do to Draw like this?”, “What are the steps to take?”, instead!
Some years ago I would think the same, looking up at other artists.
Then I realized, well maybe I can. Or maybe, I don’t want to draw like that at all.
I want to do my own thing and my own style!
The thing is, you don’t look up to other artists to compare yourself to them.
This is not how it should go. You look up to them, to learn.
To look at their art and understand the way they use color, the shapes they use, the weight line differences and why is it so important.
You can even ask them this questions, most of the community is more than happy to lend a hand!
This is the mindset you need to try and go for.
You might have moments where you’ll doubt your art, it’s common. It happens because the way you see art develops faster than your own skill.
The trick is to keep having confidence in yourself.
I’ll talk about this better in a bit, but don’t be afraid to fail.
It’s part of the process!
Am I Too Old To Learn to Draw?
Absolutely. And by absolutely, I mean Absolutely Not!
Did you know that Harrison Ford caught his big break on Star Wars when he was 35 years old? What about Arnold Schwarzenegger, former bodybuilder that transitioned into movies in his 30s and then to being Governor of California at 56 years old?
There are countless others which have done similar job switches and that’s not even in question here!
You don’t need to break the bank learning how to draw.
But as long as you grab a pencil and a piece of paper, you’re set!
Congratulations, you’re an artist.
And I bet there are a lot of people older than you that are drawing to this day and keep on drawing.
It’s kind of addicting.
Time and age should never be a factor to be or do what you want. If you want it, grab the chance right away!
Even if you work, need to care for the family or just feel tired all the week, use the weekend to draw a bit.
Not only for drawing but for anything.
You always need some time for yourself and things for you. If drawing is that thing that relaxes you, then go for it. You can even convince the family to join you!
Kids love drawing and there are tons of games you could play that involve drawing.
Be it by yourself or with company, try to pursue your hobbies and what makes you happy.
Age is never an excuse, so pick up your pencil and start right away!
Fail Better or Why You Should Appreciate Your Failures
I love this quote from Samuel Beckett, which goes like this:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”.
This basically means that if you’re trying, you’re going to fail. And if you’re failing that’s part of the process.
Learn from your failures and improve upon them, but above all else: keep failing.
No one is perfect and neither is art, keep yourself from dwelling on your failures but actually learn from them.
You’ll very rarely draw a subject for the first time and do it perfectly.
You’ll need to do it sometimes until you get it down how you want it.
What I mean is, don’t get frustrated when things won’t work right away. It is more than normal that they won’t. Instead, see what you need to improve and repeat.
If you can’t ignore your frustration, take a break!
Don’t force it. It won’t help.
Breath, have a snack, go distract yourself. Tomorrow is another day and it might go better!
The only way I want you to look back on your “failures”, is to see the huge amount of progress you made from your previous drawings.
Do not overthink about where you should be by now skill wise.
You’re probably tired of hearing this, but: Practice, practice, practice and above all, have fun!
The 5 Benefits of Art
After reading all this you might be thinking: But why should I really want to be an Artist? Well there are many benefits, but I’m going to list just a few:
- Stress Relief: You can relax better and even improve your sleep! Especially if you take it as a Hobby. Mindlessly scribbling and doodling relaxes your whole body and mind.
- Activity on Both Sides of the Brain: Even though the theory that there are “right-brained” and “left-brained” ended up not being true, there are still some thoughts that are more on one side than the other. The left side is still mostly dominated by analytical thinking and the right side with more creative thinking. By using both sides it improves your neurological thinking, in turn improving your focus and ease of recalling past facts.
- Self-Awareness: By releasing your artistic creativity and nurturing it, you’ll have better self-awareness. The more we create and dive deep into ourselves, the more we stay authentic and realize our habits and desires. This also leads to my next point which is:
- Confidence Boost: This can work both ways since people react differently when judging their own art and comparing it with artists that have been working for decades (don’t do this, for your own sake!). When we take some time of our busy schedule to develop our own ideas through drawing, painting, and sketching, we give more respect to ourselves. We stop thinking things like “what a waste of time drawing this, I could be earning more money or doing X, or Y”, and start building our own worlds with our own creativity. This, in turn, gives us the confidence to keep going.
- Improve your Problem Solving Abilities: I’ll go through this more in-depth in a bit, but by using creativity on a more regular basis, you’ll encounter every problem and every stone in your way much easier to deal with. This is simply because you’ve trained your mind to find alternative paths.
You’re More Creative Than You Think
Ever changed roads when going to work because there was a Traffic jam on your current route?
Ever wanted to make a cheese sandwich but found out you were out of cheese AND bread, so you picked up lettuce, ham, tomato and used some crackers instead? (well I did… ok, too specific… You get the idea!)
We’re all so creative on a daily basis but we don’t even notice it!
Creativity isn’t a skill that you can pick up or raise from 0, every single person already has creativity in their life. What you can do is nurture that creativity and boost it up with basic exercises.
On a day-to-day basis, this kind of Creativity is called Problem Solving, where you can just quickly whip up something when things go wrong or you don’t have the right tools at hand. Still, it’s creative problem-solving.
You might not even notice, but this happens a lot while drawing.
When trying to draw a cat for the first time, you’ll have to figure out where to start, how to start!
The drawing won’t simply appear in your paper magically.
You’ll try to solve that problem. You’ll observe a cat or a picture of it and try to find its shapes.
Then you’ll try those ideas on paper, for quite sometimes, until you find the right shapes. Then you continue from there until you have your cat drawn.
Of course, each individual as its own way of solving and find a way to draw a cat. If it works, then it’s good!
There are no wrong ways to go about learning.
As you practice this on paper, you’re boosting up your creativity and you’ll find it easier to solve other obstacles you might find in your daily life.
Should You Quit Art?
Now let me just say this first so we can get it out of the way: EVERYONE has their good and their bad days.
There are days where you’ll be drawing for hours on end and make wonderful drawings after drawings while being relaxed and fulfilled with your work (emphasis on the fulfilled part) and there are other days where you won’t feel like drawing.
You won’t draw well, your pencil will break, you will spill your hot drink on your sketchbook and that’s completely fine.
Move on. Keep going.
We have an expression in Portugal, “Um dia não são dias” which translates to: “A day isn’t days” (trust me, it makes more sense in Portuguese).
This basically means that of course, you’ll have your off days, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a LOT more days that will be better.
Okay so with that out of the way, you must feel fulfillment when creating Art.
As with everything in life, in my opinion, you must seek fulfillment above all else.
If you’re drawing because your parents always forced you, you have an artistic friend that is always nagging you to draw, or just out of force of habit and feeling miserable doing it, just stop.
Give it a rest and come back later or another day.
If you still don’t enjoy your time, just pursue a different vocation, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re never too old to learn new things.
Set Your Goals, Don’t be Overwhelmed by Other Artists
“I wish I could draw like him/her!”, “I’ll never get to his/her level!”.
These are common sentences that you’ll hear in the art world.
Don’t consider it an impossible goal, instead focus one step at a time on what you’re doing and what you can do to get better!
Enjoy the process of learning how to draw, don’t try to force it on yourself and hate your art until you get “good” (you’re already pretty good! There is no perfection waiting for you on the other side of the Rainbow).
You’re you and the other artists are themselves.
The idea of art and drawing is not for everyone to do the same. It’s the exact opposite. It’s the variety of styles and creative paintings each person can think of and reproduce.
Even if you’re not yet where you want to be, focus on that.
Not on how that other artist’s drawings look. You want your own thing, so follow that.
Continue practicing and improving.
Sooner than you think, you’ll start looking at your art and discover that you really enjoy how it is.
This is the most important thing, love your work and yourself. Do what makes you happy.
So don’t get let down by your art level vs the artists you love, you don’t know what they’ve been through, and the only way you can get better is by practicing.
You Have Thousands of Bad Drawings Ahead, Start Now!
It’s said that we all have 100,000 bad drawings in us.
The sooner you start the better! Give yourself a head start by beginning right now. Keep going and don’t look back.
Draw what comes to your mind. Find drawing prompts, get Reference Images online from one of your favorite subjects and just DRAW.
The sooner you get these out, the faster you can get to the “good” drawings.
Just give it a try, experiment drawing every day for a week, doesn’t matter if it’s just 15 minutes or if it’s 1 hour (but the longer, the better!).
Choose a subject and look some reference images, draw them every day.
Once the week is over, look back at your very first drawing, you won’t believe the difference!