Dear friend,

I don’t know about you, but I hear a lot of people say, “I can’t draw.”

I’m pretty sure they’re talking about realistic pencil drawings, complete with the shading and background. But even if they don’t mean that kind of drawing (just look at Pablo Picasso’s drawings), I would have to disagree.

Anybody can draw

You don’t even need functioning hands to draw. I mean, have you seen Joni Eareckson Tada’s work? And she’s a quadriplegic.

A lot of people believe they can’t draw because our society has taught us to appreciate art from afar and discouraged us from participating in it firsthand. Only about a hundred fifty years ago drawing was taught as an essential skill for a woman to be considered accomplished.

Growing up, I loved drawing. I am so thankful my parents encouraged my interest in the arts. Something my mom did to encourage this was using a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards as part of my homeschool curriculum in high school. The book taught me how to draw realistically and drastically improved my ability.

Ink on Paper German Shepherd Drawing Quote

It also taught me how to look at the world with an artistic eye and really see the world.

Drawing and creating do help us have fun in the otherwise monotonous routines of jobs, but they also rewire our brains to see.

Betty Edwards has some wonderful things to say about psychology and drawing on her website.

The thing about drawing is that anyone can do it. People just aren’t taught the principles of drawing. They aren’t given the opportunity to practice when they are young. When they’re adults they are convinced that they won’t ever be able to draw because they are bad at it right now.

For one thing, whoever said that you should stop doing something because you are bad at it is an ignoramus. For another, Betty has examples of the improvements of her students in one week and they are astounding. Most of her students are adults who believed they couldn’t draw.

Let’s draw right now

Take out a piece of paper. It can be printer paper, sketchbook paper, or lined notebook paper. Get out a pencil.

Now, what is in front of you right now? A pen, a lamp, a tv, a trashcan. It doesn’t matter what it is, pick an object. Forget everything you know about that object. I want you to draw the outline of that object.

No details. No shading. Just follow the outline of the object.

Here’s the catch: you aren’t allowed to look at your hand or the paper. Keep your eyes on the object.

Are you done?

Does it look bad? Good. Sign and date it and stick it on your fridge. You just drew a picture of something from real life. Good job!

Still interested in drawing? There are plenty of beginner drawing videos in addition to drawing exercises on Betty Edwards’ website.

Sincerely,

R. J. Catlin