Most of the times, when trying something new we tend to fear it. We don’t fear the thing itself, we are usually afraid of failing.
It’s a normal feeling, I’ve had it. Well, I’m lying, sometimes I’m still afraid of failure whenever I want to try and get out of my comfort zone!
The answer to this problem is very simple: just ignore the fear and do it! Very easy to say right? But a bit difficult to actually make this step.
There’s a few tricks and exercises that you can make use of and defeat your biggest enemy of all: the big monster called Fear.
Let’s do this!
It’s All In Your Head
It’s true!! Remember in movies and cartoons, when a little devil and angel appear if the main character is in a dilemma? That’s the scene you could imagine when you’re looking at your piece of paper, pencil in hand and suddenly, the little devil appears! We are at a disadvantage though, in the movies, there’s an angel as well, but for us, sometimes, it seems that little guy doesn’t even want to make an appearance! So it’s up to us to defeat the little devil.
“Nooo”, he says, “Just drop the pencil, it won’t look as good as you’re hoping! You’ll never be as good as x or y artist! Muahahaha!”
Mute that little guy, you don’t want to have anything to do with him! He’s just feeding up lies to you and trying to distract your mind with other matters! First of all, you’re not trying to be x or y artist, you’re trying to be yourself and do your own thing and second of all, the drawing you imagine in your head will definitely not be as good as you’re hoping to if you never pick up that pencil and use it.
So, a few pieces of advice:
- You might look at your drawings and think it’s not good, but to someone else, they’re going to look beautiful and they can make someone else happy! Remember: don’t be too hard on yourself and enjoy your drawings.
- Everyone is a beginner! Every single person starts somewhere, some start right as children, others later on. It doesn’t matter when or where you start, but to actually start!
- Practice! This is always going to be my answer, draw every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes and it doesn’t need to be a perfect final piece. Every single time you’re drawing and sketching, you’re improving not only your lines but also your confidence!
- Remember that you’re visual perception is always some steps ahead of your own drawing ability. The more you practice, the smaller this gap between your skill and perception is.
- Don’t panic when there are moments where you feel that your art isn’t looking like it should or that you made some steps back instead of forward. Once again this is linked to your perception and it will happen from time to time. It still happens to me! Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a break and focusing on merely sketching with no objective.
- Stop buying erasers and carrying them with you! Learn from your mistakes and keep them in your drawings, try to think of them as part of your work and progress.
These are, of course, just a few examples, you can find your own tricks and techniques to mute your own tiny little devil and even share them with us!
The Secret Sketchbook Technique
You don’t always have to share your art, in truth, you don’t need to ever share it at all! Either way, art is something that we like to share with others, even if it’s just with your family or close friends.
Do share your art whenever you feel like it, but you can always have that sketchbook that’s only for you. Like a journal, where you can just draw any kind of prompts, transmit your emotions through drawing, try new and strange things, a new plant you found, the scenery you saw today. Anything! It doesn’t matter if it ends up looking bad or imperfect, this is just for you and your experiments.
Sometimes you don’t even need to draw in it at all, you can just make small annotations of thoughts you had or something new you’re trying (my travelling sketchbook is filled with silly drawings accompanied by some gardening annotations about the plants I’ve been trying to grow), a poem or a quote you liked. You never know when these writings can give you inspiration for new drawings!
The Fear Of A Blank Paper
Vacansopapurosophobia, try saying that 3 times fast. Uff, that was tiring! As you can see, there’s actually a word for this fear, so no, it’s not just you and yes, you can overcome it as well!
Surely you’ve felt anxious when opening a new document or opening your sketchbook in a new page and looking at all that white staring back at you! I usually keep a big and a small sketchbook (one is size A4 and the other is usually A6). There are two reasons why I do this:
- So that I have a sketchbook that I can bring with me anywhere, to make some annotations and some sketches that might pop up in my mind.
- The size itself. The bigger the sheet of paper, the bigger the fear of failing.
If picking up a big sketchbook or a document too big makes me too anxious in that particular day, I reduce the size of my paper, by having a smaller place to work with, it feels that it’s not so important or that I’m not wasting as much, so I can just doodle around until I feel more confident.
You can also work with the size of your workspace by playing around with thumbnails, draw small rectangles on your page and plan your illustration inside. This is also a good exercise because it lets you play out different arrangements and different perspectives until you find the one you want to work with.
After doing things in a smaller size, you can sketch them out in bigger sizes and bigger sheets of paper or, if working digitally, you can just resize your sketch into something bigger and then work on top of this.
A big canvas can seem very intimidating at first, but once again, it’s also a matter of practice. By working constantly with an A4 size, you’ll notice at some point that it doesn’t feel as anxious as before and the same goes if you decide to work with an A3 or an A1 and so on.
So do try out different sizes of paper, starting with the one you feel confident with and grow from there.
Imperfection Is Fine
No one is perfect and the same goes for art. If you want a perfect rendering of an object or person, that’s what cameras are for! Don’t be afraid of imperfection and, actually, play and make use of it!
Of course, I’m not saying to stop trying to go for perfection and realism if that’s what you want. Not at all! You do you and you should do what makes you happy!
Sometimes rough drawings and simple sketches can transmit more emotion and look more authentic and people end up empathizing with it more than an actual perfect final piece. And surely you’ve seen art around where the artist works with rough lines, or the way they paint is very loose. You can always play with imperfection by making more rough drawings!
On the other hand, your style can also be very clean and realistic, but you can still add some flaws and imperfections to your character or object, that’s what will give your drawings personality! It gives them a story, a background, something for people to think about.
For someone out there, you’re always good enough. Don’t fear or reject imperfection, embrace it!
Tips To Start Drawing, Right Away
Drawing is a skill. It’s not something that some people are born with, you have to learn and to practice it. So it’s forbidden for you to say: Oh, but I can’t draw! You can, I know you do, in fact, to prove you that, here are some tips for you to start drawing and you’ll see how simple it is:
- Start simple! Before you jump into drawing people, animals and any object, start small. Pick up some pieces of paper you might have around your house and start drawing straight lines, curved lines, circles and so on in them.
If you go here, you can sign up for a small, and FREE beginner course where I give you small and simple exercises like these, so if you need an extra push and guidance, don’t hesitate and have fun!
- Use references. There’s nothing wrong with using a reference, honestly, it’s the best thing you can do, because you can’t learn to draw something without looking at it! You need to observe to learn it’s forms and shapes, to be able to draw it. So use resources all the time, look at them and learn from them, there’s no other way for you to learn.
- Shapes! You can break everything down into shapes! This is always a point I make in my courses, to make it easier and less scary, if you look at something, you’ll notice you can find shapes in it, even if you’re drawing a human body, you can break it down into basic shapes. The same goes for animals, objects, and others. This is very helpful, because not only will make you feel less anxious about drawing something that looks so complex, but it will also improve your observational and problem-solving skills!
- Relax. Drawing is not supposed to leave you frustrated and stiff. It might happen and if it does, take a small break, go do something else or draw something else. At the beginning you might feel your lines very stiff and that you can’t really control them, this happens because you’re not relaxed, you’re too worried about how your drawing will look. This is also a bad habit because you might hurt yourself and exert your hand muscles, so let’s try to avoid that!
Keep in mind that you’re supposed to have fun with this, there’s no one looking over your shoulder ready to snap at you if you do something wrong, because there’s no wrong way to go about it! Everyone has his own way of working and drawing and the only rule is to loosen up your hand, wrist, and arm and give confidence to your lines.
Create Your Worst Drawing, Now!
Try drawing the worst possible thing you can right now, trust me, just do it. There’s no point in being afraid of something that you are deliberately trying to draw badly. Now ask yourself, can you draw something better than that? I bet you can. Go draw it.
By starting with something bad and going from there, step by step, drawing by drawing, you’ll be slowly improving and you won’t be so afraid as before. It’s just tiny steps! Sometimes you can even end up creating a new character from this, by just letting yourself go with the flow, not worrying about how good it’s looking, letting your creativity do its thing.
Everyone has bad drawings in them, and you CAN improve by simply drawing over and over again. Try new subjects, different perspectives, different tools, just do it. It’s a rinse and repeat exercise, just do not overthink it!
Close the Gap
There is a huge gap between your ambitions and what your skill level is currently at, and this doesn’t only apply to Drawing or Arts, but everything in our life, like our Jobs, our Finances, our Relationships, everything!
Take the words of Ira Glass (and watch the video while you’re at it) at heart. “… It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through that.“
You’ll only get better by working your butt off, so don’t dwell on if you can draw or you can’t, if you’re too old or if you didn’t have the prior education to be able to be creative. It doesn’t matter! All that matters is that you start. And it’s time to start now.
First off, defeat the little Devil that’s saying mean things to you, clearing up your mind from negative thoughts, sit down, pick up your sketchbook and pencil, relax and have fun!
If you ever feel the fear creeping out on you again and are at a loss on what to do, come back here to this post and read it again. Whenever you feel inspired again, go draw some more!
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