‘I can’t Draw’ – Yes, you can!

‘I can’t Draw’ – Yes, you can!

During my time as an art teacher and later, when I ran my own company providing art workshops in school, the thing I came across in every classroom I visited was the phrase, ‘I can’t draw’. As a result of this phrase being uttered, the child would often produce little, or create with such little interest nothing much was created, or simply give up. I have always found this very depressing, but my attitude was not to accept it. Simply, if you can hold a pencil, you can draw! The two videos that are shown opposite, I think should be shown to any child who utters the dreaded phrase, ‘I can’t draw’. The reasons are as follows:

Essentially, the reason children and adults claim they can’t draw is for two main reasons, lack of confidence and what I call ‘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 was successful and became very rich. The point is his drawings were unique, and that is what makes them special.

As I’ve mentioned to children on many occasions, there is no one in the world that draws like they do, so do they turn round and say ‘I am a useless, pathetic individual who can’t even draw a line?’ Or do they turn around and say, ‘WOW, no one in the world draws like I do, that’s brilliant!’ There is only one of those responses that I accept.

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.

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