In the past year, I spent a lot of time studying. I signed up for online classes about painting, illustration, the children’s book market. I networked and met some awesome illustrators through Twitter and with all that new information swimming in my head, I felt like the more I knew, the better I would be at illustration.
Except for one thing: I stopped drawing.
My desk became cluttered with computer equipment, and I lost the space for drawing. I had stacks of books filled with notes, and stacks of empty sketchbooks. I felt inadequate. I didn’t know enough! I wasn’t prepared. I felt anxious when I would start to draw and would think “I need to do this first, then I can focus on drawing” Things I needed to do first included but not limited to:
- cleaning my desk
- finishing my laundry
- making lunch
- plucking my eyebrows
- organizing the towels in the closet
- taking a nap
- watch more tutorials
- watching a movie
- sharpening my pencils
- You get the idea, right?
Then I got a stupid cold in beginning of the year. I felt sick as a dog. So I drew a sick dog. He looked awful. I drew him again, and again. Laying in bed, breathing through my mouth, I drew a familiar puppy character from college over and over until I was happy. I drew him in bed, I drew him sitting on a couch, I drew him everywhere, and before I knew it, he was in an environment (something I convinced myself I couldn’t do). I needed to draw him somewhere to really emphasize how sick he was because I wanted everyone to know how sick I was. Then I thought “I bet I could make him better.” But I decided he was good enough, and I really did need to sleep then.
When I was a little girl, I drew horses. I loved horses. I wanted to surround myself with horses. I watched videos and studied books on how they moved and what they looked like. I studied their bone structure and how their muscles bunched up when they ran. I drew horses in class (and got in trouble a few times too!) and eventually when I was a senior finally got the knack of drawing a horse.
It occurred to me that I never doubted myself during those years that one day I could draw a realistic looking horse. I knew the simple truth. Art requires hard work, practice, failure and learning from mistakes before success is achieved. No where in that sentence is “perfection” part of the process. Now I am armed with my education, with the internet (although I still kept my photography book “Horses” and with a car to drive to places to look at things. Drawing the sick puppy reminded me that there’s no magic wand that makes a person draw better. There’s no guarantees of perfection, and perfection is non-existent. You just have to keep at it until you achieve the look you want and embrace the you-ness of it, which is that “style” thing we’re all obsessed over.
Well, that’s my two cents given ten times over. For fun, here’s a look at some of the horse drawings I’ve done over the years.