Can Drawing be Taught ?

Every time I tell people that I teach drawing.  I am faced with this assumption that it cannot be taught. 

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Half in jest, I often joke about artist profiles that stated how young they were when they started or how long they have served as apprentice to famed artists. These profiles seem to incite a sense of head-start, discouraging others from joining if they have discovered Art later in life.  It is also worthy to note that romance occupied the arts. 

Many love this notion that an artist is born, never made. To me, that’s a little ludicrous. Imagine a baby born and the next thing you know, picked up a pencil and started drawing ! A true and natural talent, ya ? I would personally run if I witness such prodigy ! (traditional arts we talking about here BTW)

Many Asians have this tradition that 'predicts' the future of their kids base of items they would pick during their birthday . This baby shows an affinity towards money. (image from Japanupdate.com)

Many Asians have this tradition that 'predicts' the future of their kids base of items they would pick during their birthday . This baby shows an affinity towards money. (image from Japanupdate.com)

Dramatic, I know…but that also seems to be the romance fantasized by many.  Interestingly, this is also how many artists are commonly evaluated or marketed for his/her monetary worth. 

Dali, clearly understood the importance of being perceived as a born-Artist and introduced himself as the divine Dali and informed his audiences that he was born with the blood of Gala. No kidding.

Dali, clearly understood the importance of being perceived as a born-Artist and introduced himself as the divine Dali and informed his audiences that he was born with the blood of Gala. No kidding.

Are Artists are born?
Well..... Though I can’t dispute that some are born with better hands and eyes coordination. The same can be said for driving, flying or even walking. Some of us just have peculiar motor-skills but we can all learn to be better drivers, swimmers, runners or pilots.

So,.....Yes ! drawing can be taught and everyone can draw.  As far as how well one can draw.. It all boils down to the level of interest, effort and determination.

Personally, I have taught drawing for close to a decade and here are what I have observed:

Sketch of my students during studio time. 

Sketch of my students during studio time. 

  • Improvement and progress are always the most dramatic during the first few weeks of drawing classes.
  • Students are thrilled when they learnt that there are actually proper instructions and technique to drawing/ they would pick up pace on hands and eyes coordination and their observational drawings would improve dramatically during the first 4 weeks. 
  • Depending on the group’s size, progress usually tapers off around week 4 when students noticed the development of their peers. When students notice that others can obtain better results, many start to lose interest and reduce effort. (risk adverse strategy) This is often challenging since it’s hard to justify for the additional effort required.
     
Sometimes, students get so competitive over drawing that they openly criticize outstanding students for spoiling the 'market', guilt tripping them, in collective effort to stop the better artists from widening the gap. (This is a very common scenario in Singapore schools/society)

Sometimes, students get so competitive over drawing that they openly criticize outstanding students for spoiling the 'market', guilt tripping them, in collective effort to stop the better artists from widening the gap. (This is a very common scenario in Singapore schools/society)

Some competition is good but excessive competition and insecurity is death to motivation. 

Some competition is good but excessive competition and insecurity is death to motivation. 

So do I think drawing can be taught?

Well... My conclusion is that it can be taught but only some can accept or afford the necessary effort required. I have also personally come to believe that it’s a lot healthier to learn drawing when you approach it like Yoga, instead of O-level Mathematics.

When you don’t have to reside livelihood on drawing, you won’t be pressured to compare your effort and with less anxiety, you can definitely achieve better results.

You must enjoy art to learn it. 

You must enjoy art to learn it. 

 


I am currently conducting a sketching tour (For beginners) to Bhutan in Jun 15-June 21. Join me and rekindle your love for the arts. Limited to 10 particpants. Visit www.drukasia.com for more information.