I had an “Aha!” moment this week.
I knitted a scarf and had to start over 6 times before I figured out what I was doing wrong in the pattern. The scarf looks great! You’d never know how much I struggled at first. Also this week, I made peanut brittle! I burned the first batch, but the second batch turned out.
When I burned that brittle, I thought “I’ll try again and shorten the cooking time.” When I messed up the scarf, I thought “I can figure this out.” It wasn’t a big deal, and it didn’t signify anything about me as a person. I just had to think about it, and keep trying until I got it right.
But when I’m drawing, I often am disappointed by my mistakes and bad drawings. I’m terrible! I should be able to draw this! So and So could draw this with their eyes closed. I start to wonder if I should pursue a different career. I stop drawing and feel sad when I think about it. AHA! This is not a reasonable thought process about my work. Good art can happen naturally or by some luck, but most of the time, it’s a trial and error process, much like trying a new peanut brittle recipe.
I think I started comparing my works-in-progress to other artist’s finished products. Do you ever find yourself doing that? I forget that often we have favorite characters that we’ve drawn so many times that we can draw them without thinking now. So when I see someone draw a signature character flawlessly, I will remember they put in hours upon hours getting that character to where it is today, and that even beloved favorites naturally evolve over time. When I see a beautiful painting, I will remember the process of thumbnail sketches, the many drafts, color comps, critiques, tweaks, and time that lead to that final, beautiful piece.
How did I get to this point of skill in my art? I practiced, studied and worked to get here. I’m pretty good, and getting better all the time. A bad drawing doesn’t mean I’m a terrible artist, it’s just a bad drawing. I can look at it critically, figure out what went wrong and try again until I get it right.
Back to the drawing board. I’m really excited to get back to it 😀