During my time as an art teacher and when I ran my own company providing art workshops in school, the phrase I came across in every classroom I visited was, ‘I can’t draw’. After the phrase was uttered, the child would often produce little, or draw with such little interest nothing was created. Or they simply give up. I found this very depressing, but my attitude was not to accept it. My opinion was, if you can hold a pencil, you can draw! The two videos shown opposite, should be shown to any child who utters the dreaded phrase, ‘I can’t draw’. The reasons are as follows:
Each Child produces Unique Drawings
The reason children and adults claim they can’t draw is twofold; lack of confidence and what I refer to as the ‘comparison syndrome’. I can’t draw like him or her (or insert any artist you care to name), therefore I am useless. As I explain in the video, if you look at Andy Warhol’s drawings compared to Picasso, Rembrandt etc, his work looks positively child like. Yet he became successful and very rich. The point is, his drawings were unique, and that is what made them special.
I’ve mentioned to children many times, ‘there is no one in the world that draws like you do’. Do you want to, ‘be a useless, pathetic individual who can’t even draw a line?’ Or do you want to say, ‘WOW, no one in the world draws like I do, that’s brilliant!’ There is only one of those responses that I accept.
If Children are Still Not Convinced
But, there will still be some who are not convinced and will still claim they can’t draw. So I explain to them that they can and the reason is simple. I get them to write something and exclaim, WOW, I wish I could draw like that! They look confused, I simply say I love their drawing. They reply, ‘I haven’t drawn anything it’s just writing.’ ‘No it isn’t, it’s drawing.’ I am reading the shapes they drew on paper. In the video I show this by drawing a ‘smiley face’ and writing the word ‘face’ next to it, neither of which look like a real face, yet we ‘read’ both as ‘face’, despite the fact both are drawn.
Drawing is the basis of all non-verbal communication, by putting a part of the whole gamut of drawing into a little box called ‘art’ we are excluding a lot of people who can draw from considering themselves artists. It’s all in the way we, as human beings, categorise things. One day, everyone will realise that art is the basis of our communication and without art, in all its forms, we would still be back in the stone age.