In the past I’ve shared some messy sketches on this blog in the hopes of encouraging you to focus on quantity over quality, because many times we see other’s art and are overwhelmed by the beauty and intricacy of their work, so we immediately think, “I could never do that.”
I promise they have failures. Heaps of them. You are only seeing their best. Behind the scenes, I can guarantee that there are stacks of sketches and drawings that will never see the light of day.
This is probably my best tip in this Art Journaling 101 series:
Plan to fail. A lot.
And I mean it.
See here’s the thing, we all started out as artists. When we were toddlers and could barely grip a crayon, we drew some pretty dang awesome stuff. Yeah, it might have looked like this:
But hey, for a 2-year old, that’s pretty amazing! Greg Albert would be proud.
Somewhere along the way, we became quitters. Maybe we started comparing ourselves to others. Maybe we convinced ourselves that we don’t have any “talent.” Either way, we stopped drawing. Painting. Sketching.
We quit being artists. Because we thought we weren’t.
So here’s my point: What if you didn’t quit?
What if you didn’t listen to the naysayers and the voices in your head and you had kept on drawing every single day of your life?
You’d still be pretty dang awesome by now. In fact, I bet your skills would put your 2-year old scribbles to shame. You’d be popping out landscapes and portraits and still lifes and hand-lettered fonts as good as the best of them.
Here’s my other point: What if you don’t quit now?
Prepare yourself for this — you are going to produce some pretty nasty sketches. In fact, about 99-percent of your stuff, you just ain’t gonna like. (Or at least I don’t.) Nothing you draw will look like what you think it should. You’ll put pen to paper, and it just won’t make magic. One day after a whole lotta effort, you’ll finally draw something that you think looks okay. You'll proudly show your Facebook friends or kids and they'll say, "Oh a bunny!" Nope, it's a squirrel.
And it’s okay.
The fact that you are pursuing something you enjoy IS the magic.
Unfortunately, we are a society caught up in judging ourselves based upon results. We neglect the means to the end because we are told that the end is the only thing that matters. We are taught from an extremely young age that it is not the process that matters, it is the grade.
The truth is, the process is really what counts. We don’t learn on the mountain top when everything we attempt results in perfection. Growth in the curve chart happens after the dips and dives; it happens in the valleys and in the failures.
Your entire ability to succeed is bound up in your ability to embrace your mistakes and move forward.
So I invite you… No, I oblige you to throw the grade out the window. Sketch for the pure joy of it. Paint for the sheer pleasure. Keep a journal for the simple delight in it. Make ugly art and revel in the the process. Be a rebel and do something because you love it, even if you fail, because when failure does happen it won’t be a big deal because it was all part of your plan anyway.
Ignore the lies and go be an artist. Your outstanding success rate may just surprise you!