Should We Just Draw What We Want?

I was hoping that the the title might interest some of you, I have mixed thoughts on this topic.  I mainly think that of course we should draw what we are interested in and want to draw but as a beginner you might want to draw a range of subjects to see what interests you.  You also won’t know what you like drawing or painting until you try some different subjects like plants, landscapes, people, still life.

Breaking Out of Comfort Zones 

Naturally many students and learners want to avoid risk and will naturally gravitate to their well know way of working.  I meet learners on my beginners course who frequently only want to draw or paint in a particular type of way for example copying greeting cards of landscapes.  Not there is any thing really wrong with this as many skills can be gained but when we have unlimited choice on what and how we draw or paint we will draw and paint what we want in our preferred ways which can sometimes lack risk.  Sometimes when we are given a subject to draw or paint that we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen ourselves we can learn more because it makes us look at new subjects.

Different subject matter will give different learning lessons.
Different subject matter will give different learning lessons.

Limiting is Learning

What do I mean by this?  As a Tutor I feel that lessons without any limitations are less effective.  When we suddenly can’t do something (like use all the colours we want) it will hone our skills into what we can do.

Therefore by doing activities that limit us we learn more, examples might be drawing in anything but line, colour mixing with only the primary colours, painting in greyscale, drawing in cross-hatching etc. Often having limits makes us rise to the challenge.

Trying new ways of doing things means learning new things.
Trying new ways of doing things means learning new things.

Letting Go of Results

In my experience of teaching adult learners I have found that they like results! They have taken the time and the money to do a course and they want to see an improvement in their skills.  Some of these learners can get frustrated when they are not working on a ‘final piece’ and doing exactly what they want.  Children and teenagers on the other hand generally are happy to experiment without working  on getting a result sometimes.

I can fully understand the attitude of some of these adult learners, but it can be limiting if you always expect a result in the way you had in mind.  When we draw and paint exactly what we want we sometimes have this fixed idea of what the piece will need to look like to be a ‘result’.  I think that artwork should be planned so I don’t mean you shouldn’t have an idea of what it will turn out like.  I am just suggesting letting go of having exact ideas of how it needs to look.

Being told we can’t draw and paint exactly what we want can be a healthy thing. Then when you have learn these new lessons you can apply them to exactly what you do want to draw and  paint and usually a richer result is the outcome.

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4 thoughts on “Should We Just Draw What We Want?

  1. Rebecca, I get what you’re saying. We learn more when we are willing to move out of our comfort area. I recently had to do that when I discovered that my photo reference and canvas size did not match up and I had to make some adjustments to paint a seascape that I really liked. I just started an art journal and am about to write about my first experience drawing. http://artwithaloha.wordpress.com
    ~Liz

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  2. ..”letting go of having exact ideas of how it needs to look”…

    Well that hits the nail smack on the head – learning that lesson, or rather continually RE-learning that lesson is almost the number one priority.

    For me personally I’m nearly always challenging myself, it’s been the most rapid way to progress in my experience. Working towards a rubbish result, but rather than it being rubbish to go in the bin, it’s rubbish to analyse – where did it go wrong, what can I try to get it right next time, etc. Nearly every day I draw, nearly every day I learn a tiny bit more – tiny changes maybe but that’s the way drips of water burrow through solid rock eh?

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