Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Queen Victoria, Illustrator?

New illustrations from Queen Victoria's journals have been made available online and I've heard a couple people express surprise that she could draw so well.  It touches on a point that I've come to believe very strongly over the last few years and I thought this was a good opportunity to share them.

First of all, I want you to be encouraged.  Even if you don't consider yourself and "artist" (like we really know what that means) you are creative.  I recently came across a great article from The Rabbit Room about creativity that I thought was incredibly well put.  Here's an excerpt:

"My point is this: we’re all creative. Tolkien coined the word subcreator. Some of you have likely heard me or someone else talk about that idea, but it bears repeating. He said, “We make in the manner in which we were made.” To put it another way, we serve a Creator, with a capital C. One of the ways in which we’ve been made in his image is that we also delight in creating. Everything we make is derivative and secondary, and in some manner draws attention to the primary creation, the truth, and the Creator himself. That means everyone on earth could justly label themselves a Creative. That means that even if you don’t wear hipster glasses, skinny jeans, and have Justin Bieber hair, you’re a Creative. It means that even if you’re a banker, a produce manager, or a doctor you’re a Creative. So allow me to reclaim that hijacked adjective, for the good of the world. None of us in this room is a Creative. But all of us are creative."
         - Andrew Peterson, transcript of opening remarks at Hutchmoot 2011

Secondly, anyone can learn to draw.  Drawing is about observation, it takes time and patience to learn but everyone can.  It's like reading or doing sums - everyone can learn how to do it.  And just like reading and writing and math, some people have a greater aptitude for the subject.  So, will you come out the other side drawing like Leonardo?  Probably not.  Will you be able to express yourself on a two-dimensional surface - yes.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when people say things like, "Man, I wish I could draw like that" or "Ugh, I'll never be able to do something like that".  Guess what?  All of those people that your admiring didn't come out of the womb with the ability to do that.  Artists spend years developing the skill to do all of the stuff  they do.  Years.  So all of that awesome that you're admiring?  Yes, it's talent, but it's also a lot of hard work.  They (hopefully) don't sit down with just the intention of drawing or painting something - they sit down (or stand, whatever) with the intention of making something better than whatever they did the last time they tried to put something down on paper (or canvas or whatever).  The best artists never settle for just "good enough".  They're always trying to improve their craft.  And every artist - from the one who's "made it" to the one that is still trying to break out of their boring day job - every one sees something in their work that isn't quite "it" yet.  You have less of that as you improve, as you make more and more art, but that "grr" moment is ALWAYS going to be there in some way shape or form.  The point is to keep pushing through that, cause there is improvement just around the corner!  I promise!

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