You are your own art teacher. Are you a good one?
I’ve had that deep desire to create artwork my whole life. But it’s been so difficult, especially drawing people. This whole channel is designed to help with that if you feel that too.
I used to just love drawing as a kid. I drew this comic, with the x-men plus not one but two new superhero teams of my own creation, and I felt that it was extremely cool.
Then when I was 16 I started a cycle of wanting to draw, but not feeling like the drawings were good enough and quitting. And then trying drawing again, and quitting on it again for more than a decade. For a long time, I blamed a bad art teacher at school. She just didn’t like anything I did. I remember she just drew on top of my drawings with a fat crayon. She made me feel like I just didn’t understand what art really was.
But that teacher is not who I’m talking about. Because later in life I had more positive and good art teachers, but still I went through that same cycle.
Imagine two art teachers. The first one looks at your drawing and just sees problems. Then, they say to you ‘why the hell did you make these mistakes? You can see they’re wrong, so why did you draw like that? What’s wrong with you? Do you have no talent? Shouldn’t you give up?’
The second art teacher says ‘Hey, there’s a lot of things working here and a some things to improve. I think you did these 4 things well. Next, you can work on this one thing. You’ll have to work hard on it, it will be hard, but you can do it. I believe in you.’
Which one of those is better? Now, throughout your art career, you are your own main art teacher. Other people can give you guidance, but at the end of the day, you need to motivate yourself, you need to see the things that are working in your drawings and what needs to be better, you need to find ways to help yourself understand things and find ways to build your skills.
So now here’s the question. When you think of yourself as both teacher and student, and the teacher you is talking to the student you. Which of those two art teachers are you closer to?
I went through all those struggles for so many years because I had a horrible teacher. And yes, that bad art teacher at school didn’t help, and the good art teachers I met did help, but at the end of the day, what mattered was how I taught myself. I could have easily dealt with the bad and I could have made so much more from the good art teachers out there, if I was being decent to myself.
My mum Mayko who runs love life drawing with me and always finds good things in people’s drawings, so starting to go to life drawing with her a few years ago helped me learn that skill too. I also separately had some mental health problems a few years ago, and I worked really hard to get through them, and one of the skills I had to learn was to be better to myself.
My mum finds good in people’s drawings, except for her own, even though they are amazing.
So even though there’s that overly negative thought pattern pointing out that the shoulders are too high and the torso too narrow which means I’m terrible at drawing, everyone on youtube is going to see this and judge me, there’s a new thought pattern. I really like some of the curves I’m getting in, I’m noticing problems which is a big step to fixing them, even if the drawing doesn’t work, it’s all learning.
I started to look at every drawing i thought was a failure and say to myself ‘That’s a step, one of thousands of steps, forward. It’s not all working, but there are important things that are working. You’ll get there. Here’s the next step, work hard on it. If it doesn’t work, it’s cool, we’ll find a way to make it work’.
And then when you talk to other people about your drawings, maybe you put them down and say they’re no good, almost defensively, or make self-deprecating jokes about them. But how about saying ‘I’m getting there, there’s a lot to learn still, but there’s some good things happening so that’s cool’. Sticking up for yourself cements that positive mindset.
I know the idea of ‘self compassion’ sounds kind of weak, it sounds wishy-washy and soft, and it really doesn’t come naturally to me to be like that, but I think it’s probably the biggest factor that will determine whether you get to where you want to go with your art.
I don’t think I’ll ever rid of that super harsh inner critic, but I have been able to add those positive thoughts too, new thought patterns, to balance it out. I think my progression really started when I did that, but it’s weirdly hard to do.
So now, we are teaching through Love Life Drawing, and I try to be that way for people watching and taking our courses. But at the end of the day, it’s not going to matter if you aren’t doing it to yourself too.
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