I’ve been talking with my friend lately about the pressure that comes with learning how to draw. She’s graciously allowed me to be her art mentor as I fine tune the framework for improving our drawing skills faster. This idea of pressure is the one thing that plagues her as we’re about to get started.
Learning to draw looks like fun and games when you start, especially as a kid, but as you begin to apply yourself you get overwhelmed fast. If you get discouraged, it doesn’t take much time to distance yourself from drawing entirely.
There's a skill you need to start learning to draw and it has nothing to do with your physical ability. The first step you need to take is addressing how learning to draw makes you feel.
It’s not a secret that learning to draw is overwhelming. You feel pressure from the amount of concepts you have to learn. You feel pressure to post multiple times a day on social media to stay relevant. You feel pressure to make your sketchbook drawings pretty, so if anyone asks you to see it, you won’t hide in a corner feeling nothing but shame.
Drawing is also fun and rewarding. You might be confused because I just said it was overwhelming, but the truth is, it’s both. It’s how you choose to react to this overwhelming feeling that will determine your relationship with drawing. And in most cases, how you react will be the deciding factor between sticking with the craft or moving on to something easier.
I only just recently started getting good at cooking. Flavor is a welcome addition to my previously bland dishes. I’ve tried enough recipes to know how to balance certain spices and make my staple recipes shine. The recipes I consistently make are easy, I know them well enough that I don’t need the directions. Cooking only starts to get uncomfortable when I decide to try a new dish.
Any skill that requires serious time and effort to improve will make you uncomfortable. Drawing is not immune from that. You can draw things you already know and stay in your comfort zone but the moment you decide to improve, you invite uncertainty and discomfort.
Oddly enough, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re on the road to learning.
It feels pleasant to stay in your comfort zone but it doesn’t help you grow. You spend your life avoiding discomfort like the plague.
You need uncertainty and discomfort to learn and grow. It’s part of the process.
Learning to draw will require you to do things you’ve never done. You have to experiment to make great discoveries or find happy accidents. Moving into the unknown is scary but you can learn to find the courage to continue. One day you may even find discomfort is your comfort zone.
The secret skill you need to start learning how to draw is learning to embrace discomfort. Start small and be consistent. You will prove to yourself that you don’t have to fear being overwhelmed.
Remember to be patient with yourself as you make progress. Being uncomfortable makes you vulnerable. If you start comparing yourself to others, which we are all guilty of, you’ll do more harm than good. You only need to compare yourself with a previous version of you. Make 1% improvements and be proud of your progress, no matter how small.