Almost every day I get or see a comment along the lines of "I'm afraid to draw x", be it hands, feet, animals, cars, perspective, backgrounds, realism, watercolor, acrylic, digital--anything you can imagine. Inspired to talk about it, I went ahead and typed up this impromptu blog post. So let's get chatting ;)
Being afraid to try new things isn't unique to any one person. In fact, it's insanely common, and not just for artists. (But we're all artists here, so that's my focus, haha.) We have comfort zones, safe zones, where we feel confident and proud. We don't have to fear anything because we already know what we're doing. We don't have to think too hard, there's no challenge or conflict.
Branching out, trying something new, that involves effort, time to spend, and can also bring out fear.
To be clear: I'm not above this, in fact, I fall right into this too. I've had various fears in the past and still have fears now.
Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, feel of embarrassment, fear of anything negative in general.
But what's the absolute worst that can happen?
Take a second to think about it, really think about it. (And try to keep it realistic. Drawing won't cause the end of the universe.
Got an idea? An entire list? xD
From my experiences, and from what I've gathered from the experiences of others, it seems to stem from one main fear: it won't turn out good, right? It will look ugly, it won't show our strengths, it will reveal a side of ourselves we don't want others to see. It will open the door to negativity and hate comments. We'll be looked down on.
But there is no fear of ridicule or negative comments, because we don't have to share them with anyone. As I mentioned in my 'How to Start and Finish Sketchbooks' post, we can keep our practices private, we can hide our failures if we want to, no one has to know. I know this is the age of share share share with social media, but it's important to remind ourselves that we have control over it. We can choose what we do and do not disclose.
I used to be afraid to sketch in pen or marker. The idea of permanence, being unable to erase, it terrified me. But I tried it out, I told myself that it's okay for them to be bad, I pushed through that fear. In fact, the main reason I was able to do so was because of one important factor: I had a source of inspiration. Sycra Yasin, an amazing artist and teacher on YouTube, sketches in pen and that motivated me. I looked up to him and his teachings, still do!, they were valuable to me, and if it was something he loved doing, surely it was worth a shot?
The first few times were awkward and embarrassing. I was slow and used many lines, things were jagged and lop-sided. But I told myself that it's pen. I can't fault myself for not being able to erase. But I do have the power to move on. I can do another drawing, and another. I screw up? I go to the next one. I keep going. And now? I LOVE it. I love the mistakes, I love the weirdness I get sometimes, because I can just move on. I can take what I learned and put it in the next one. I don't have to sit and erase and erase and erase until I get it perfect--that would take an eternity. Because there is no perfect.
And I would've never known. I would've never found this love of using inks to sketch. I would've missed out an opportunity to enjoy the creation process even more than I already did.
Don't get me wrong, if you enjoy graphite and erasing, more power to you. I'm not trying to put anyone down for the tools they use. If it works for you, that's great! But for me, on my own personal art journey, this was what /I/ needed. I needed to experience this, and I'm so forever grateful I gave it the chance.
I used to be afraid of adding in backgrounds, so I would always leave the white of the canvas. I would never do anything with it. But I saw people building these amazing scenes, or even simple shapes and patterns to fill in the space. I wanted to get better, and I looked at my idols as a way to bring myself up. (You only ever want to compare in a positive manner. Bring yourself up, don't put yourself down!) I had art in my mind that I wanted to create, that I wanted to be in the real world, but they were so intricate, that I didn't have the skill to do it. But I kept hearing over and over from the artists I loved, you have to practice. You have to go outside your comfort zone. You have to experiment. You have to try. And so I tried. I tried and I failed and I tried and I failed and I kept trying and I kept failing and I keep trying and I keep failing.
One look over my Deviantart gallery, seeing the history of my artworks, you can see the struggle, the battle, the story of my journey. I did simple patterns, shapes, very basic backgrounds--I had no idea what I was doing, I was just doing. (I still don't know what I'm doing sometimes, haha.)
Over time, learning from my peers, researching on my own, testing things, I began to see what worked and what didn't. I began to learn what I liked and didn't like. And while I'm far from perfect, and I'll never claim to be, I found a love of backgrounds too. And as time went on, I even found myself looking for excuses to throw them in there because why not? What's the worst that can happen?
I don't hide my old art. I don't hide my failures. And I choose that consciously. Because I know that my younger self would have LOVED to see them. To see that artists aren't magical machines that pump out content. That we don't know everything. That we're always still learning. That we make mistakes and screw up and get frustrated and have dark times just like everyone else.
So really, what's the worst that can happen?
You'll learn. You'll get more comfortable with your tools. You'll grow, not only as an artist but as a person. You'll get a new outlook on art and life. You'll get brave. Become more confident. You'll take risks. You'll laugh. And most importantly: you'll have fun.
I'm excited to fail. I'm eager to make mistakes. Because that's the only way you can learn. I love this journey I'm on, and I hope you're able to love yours too. We're all on our own artistic adventure, and it's so much more worthwhile to enjoy the ride, including the struggles. ;)
Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful!
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