Can Anyone Learn How to Draw?

Can Anyone Learn How to Draw?

August 14, 2021

 By Emily Becker

Here’s a hard pill to swallow: your capacity to create does not depend on how much other people appreciate what you produce. I hear people say things like “I can’t draw to save my life” and “I’m just not artistic” all the time. In fact, it’s something I used to say to myself.

These are limiting beliefs–things we tell ourselves that limit our capacity to learn new things and expand our creativity. The short answer to “Can anyone learn to draw?” is a big YES. Let me tell you why:

What happens when we believe in ourselves?

Magic, that’s what. Pure magic happens when we truly believe that we can do anything. Learning a new skill depends heavily on our ability to surrender to the process and believe that we are indeed capable of learning.

When we apply this truth to any still we want to learn–drawing or otherwise–we open ourselves up to newfound talents. You may be surprised at how capable you are of learning new things! If you need that little push to start thinking about what you want to learn to draw first, this is your sign that it’s time to let go of self-doubt and give yourself a little (or a lot of!) grace.

The myth that you aren’t artistic.

If you have always associated art with the world’s most famous painters, sculptors, and ceramicists, keep in mind that many of them probably believed at one time that they weren’t “artistic.” What does that even mean, anyway? Everything is art. The way you make your coffee in the morning is art. The way you listen intently while your friend tells you a story is an art. Your capacity to love is art.

Learning to draw isn’t just about the end result of your practice. That’s right–the gorgeous blooming flower that you finally got just right on the page is amazing, but it’s not really the point. The point is that your ability to accept your own creative genius is far more important than what you end up producing.

Hear me out. Putting pen to paper and beginning a drawing has technique associated with it, sure. But your ability to flow with your creativity and become a channel for your own thoughts and feelings is what art is all about. The techniques you learn and the materials you use will help you do that, but your connection to your own creativity is by far the most incredible thing of all. And guess what? It has nothing to do with how “artistic” you considered yourself to be before you started learning to draw.

Age is just a number.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard the phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Now raise the other hand if you’ve used that as an excuse not to learn a new skill that you were curious about learning. Take both of those hands you’ve raised and shake that myth away. You don’t need it anymore.

There is no rule that says you can’t pick up a pencil and start drawing once you reach a certain age. You are wise! No matter how old you are, your years are full of lessons and experiences that will present themselves in your art. Learning to draw and express your wisdom through art is a beautiful thing.

Failure is your friend.

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY is amazing at drawing when they first start learning. Did you come out of the womb on two feet, ready to walk? Absolutely not. The most incredible things that we learn to do in this life do not happen overnight. Learning to draw takes patience and a willingness to fail time and time again.

Oftentimes our society associates failure with something inherently negative. We tend to view failure as the end of a process, rather than the beginning. Whether you’re learning to draw, paint, do a cartwheel, or speak a new language, you will fail. You will fail miserably sometimes. The true beginning of learning a new skill is when we decide to begin again after we fail.

Allow yourself space to fail. Give yourself the grace of being sort of bad at drawing when you begin. Laugh at the monstrosities you create. Document them to look back on later. Seeing your failures later on will give you the reassurance that your process has continued despite all the times you’ve failed.

“I don’t have the best materials.”

If you have been sold the idea that you absolutely have to own the most elaborate materials on the market in order to draw to your heart’s content, you’ve been lied to. The commercialization of art materials often tells us that in order to learn to draw, we have to begin with an entire collection of (usually very expensive) materials.

The reality about learning any new skill is that you do not need to have top-of-the-line equipment to start. There may be exceptions to this, but drawing is not one. All you really need to start is a pencil or a pen and paper. That’s the beauty about learning to draw–you don’t need anything that you don’t already have on hand to learn.

Because of this, drawing is one of the most accessible artistic skills that you can learn. You don’t need a lot of money to begin to learn to draw because the materials are as basic as it gets. This also means that you don’t have the excuse to put off learning any longer!

No time? No problem.

Perhaps you are one of those people who constantly has a packed schedule and you think it’s impossible to even think about dedicating a single minute of your day to learning how to draw. I get it–I’ve been there. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to dedicate several hours a day to learning how to draw.

As with any artistic skill, you would be surprised at how much a few minutes a day dedicated to your practice will make a difference long term. I’m talking about literal minutes every day. How many minutes do you spend scrolling through your phone every day? Imagine cutting down on your social media scrolling by just 10 minutes and dedicating that time to practicing your drawing skills. That’s over an hour a week spent honing your craft!

Finding time to learn to draw is simple if you set yourself up for success. Beyond allotting a few minutes or an hour every day to practicing, try setting up a specific space in your home or office that is dedicated solely to your drawing practice. Keep it tidy and ready for you to dive into whenever you get the urge to start drawing. Have your materials set up nicely so you can sit down and focus on your creativity for a moment.

Getting in your zone.

To begin learning to draw, it is imperative that you find a way to channel your creativity. Now that you’ve let go of the idea that you’re not talented enough, too young or old, are pressed for time, or simply don’t have the materials you need, you are ready to get into your zone.

First, decide what your method of learning will be. Are you a visual learner who learns by watching someone else do it? Are you an auditory learner who absorbs information better by listening to someone talk about it? Or are you a kinesthetic learner who learns by jumping in and doing it hands-on through trial and error?

Knowing your learning style will help you identify what your best method of learning will be. If you’re unsure, give them all a try and see what’s best for you!

Here are some ideas for learning how to draw, according to learning styles:

  • Visual learners: youtube tutorials, blog posts with pictures
  • Auditory learners: podcasts, youtube tutorials, audiobooks
  • Kinesthetic learners: One-on-one lessons, lots of trial and error

Once you have decided how you want to learn to draw, it’s time to decide when and where. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine your best path to success:

  • When do I have a few minutes each day to dedicate to practicing drawing?
  • How much time can I practice drawing each day?
  • How do I hold myself accountable for practicing regularly?
  • What is the best place in my home or office to dedicate to my drawing practice?
  • How do I make my space inspirational to my practice?
  • What distractions are present in my drawing space and how can I limit them?

Once you have decided how, when, and where to begin practicing drawing, you are ready to get into your zone and begin practicing.

Learning to draw is accessible to everyone who has the desire to learn. If you ask me, artistic “talent” is a harmful myth that discourages many people from picking up a pencil and giving drawing a try. The belief that some people are naturally more talented artists than others holds us back from reaching our true potential. 

After all, art is completely objective. The techniques you learn along the way will only get you closer to expressing yourself the way YOU want to, regardless of the value judgment that others may place on your abilities.

So pick up your pencil, get in the zone, and let your creativity flow! I can’t wait to see what you create.