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Topic: Drawing/painting - is it a talent you're born with, or can it be learned?  (Read 11075 times)
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« on: November 30, 2008 02:06:11 PM »

I would love to be good at drawing and painting, I just find the idea of doing watercolour paintings so appealing.  My dad was a fantastic artist years ago, he worked in oil, watercolour and gouache (not all at the same time) and did mostly landscapes and bird and plant studies.  He was incredibly talented and sold a lot of his work and exhibited occasionally, and although he kind of gave up years ago due to life getting in the way, he recently (aged 73) did a huge wall-length mural at the local environmental education centre he worked at before he retired.  But no matter how much he painted he could never do people.  Particularly faces. 

I don't seem to have inherited his talent, but I don't know if it's because I like thing with instant results and if I don't produce something decent first time I'll give up soon afterwards.  Our art classes at school were more about making stuff with papier mache and ceramics, and very little about drawing or painting.  I really just don't know how to draw.  But even with that I'm better than my poor husband who is good at many many things but drawing is not one of them - if he draws something you can very rarely even tell what it's supposed to be!

What I'm wondering is if it's possible to learn to draw, especially later in life (I'm 28 which I guess is kind of late for this sort of thing).  Or am I screwed and should I stick to the sewing machine?  I think musical ability, or being able to sing, is something you either have or don't have and I'm not sure if artistic ability is similar.

By the way, I've decided that it's about time my dad got back into his painting again so I phoned him tonight and demanded a painting for my Christmas present  Grin

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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2008 02:26:36 PM »

i think it's a bit of both.  some people are just born with the talent of being great artists.  but i think it can be learned too.  it may never come as easy as it did for those seemingly born with it, but i think i can be done. 
i think it's also a question of patience.  i never really thought i could draw all that well.  then last semester i took the basic drawing class at my school.  when i was forced to sit there and work on a drawing for 3 hours and had someone there to help me when i got stuck i realized that i could draw when i really worked at it.  maybe my drawings weren't as good as some of the other people's in the class, but for me they were really good.  i look at some of them and i'm like, "wow, i drew that?"
so yes, i think it is possible to learn to draw, no matter what age you are, you just have to make the time to really work at it, and not give up too easily.   Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2008 03:03:09 PM »

Bit of both. You presumably have an awareness of colour and form already from crafting. My grandmother-in-law(an avid sewer) had never drawn/painting and took painting classes a few years ago and was good. Like Puppy_girl says if you are practising something for hours at a time and getting lessons on how to hold the pencil, etc you can't fail to improve. I would say you'd need some tiny bit of talent to start off though, whether it be for painting or drawing or both. And practise.

My father was good at drawing and sketching and used to buy myself and my brothers art suppliers all the time and draw & paint with us. He would have loved to have gone to art college. My mother can draw cats and houses and that was it. Myself and one of the brothers can draw and the other - no, not at all. I drew all through  my childhood and did art at school - we did life drawing and still lives as well as crafts - I got a place to art college - didn't go though. But I was never great at painting or pastels or any kind of colour. I was particularly bad at water colours - really awful.

Sadly I am very out of practise and my drawing skills are pretty crap now. In a way it was a relief to stop because I was never as good on paper as in my head. I have to do drawings for my gem course now though.

Anyway I'd say it would be worth doing a course - or there are how-to-draw books as well. Or even just doodle away on a pad at home. Things like flowers and veggies are good to practise on - cats are hard:)

That's so cool about your dad and the paintings especially the mural.

« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2008 03:15:20 PM »

Thanks for the replies Smiley  I am encouraged.  I've just ordered a beginners watercolour book from ebay and I've got tons of scrap paper, I'll have a play around and see how I get on, and try and find a class I can fit into my schedule.  I love going to classes so even if I turned out to be hopeless at least I'd enjoy it Smiley  They're so expensive though.  The drawbacks of living in London.

Saor - we're off to visit the folks for Christmas and I'm going to insist on going to visit this mural so I can take photos of it and post them on Craftster so I can show off how cool my dad is. 

I might also scan my terrible attempt at drawing a robin yesterday, but then you'll all see how bad I really am  Wink


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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2008 10:42:06 PM »

Hrm i think it could be both. In regards to music, i've been able to sing quite well since i was little, but i cannot write music and can barely read it.

Art wise, my grandfather was a great painter and sketcher of landscapes and such, and i'm TERRIBLE at landscapes and still life subjects. But since i was little i was always able to glue, bend, mould, paint, shape, cut etc whatever different things together whether it be decopage, fimo, resin, sewing, surreal type painting, pottery etc. Perhaps that makes me more crafty because i cannot do fancy 'art'.

There's schools for almost everything these days, so i'm assuming someone with no art bone in their body can teach themselves, but it probably helps to have a little bit of that interest or skill already in your blood.
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2008 04:06:45 PM »

May I suggest "Drawing on the Right side of the brain" a book by Betty Edwards? In it she explains why people think they cannot draw, why most of us draw like we are seven years old, and how to learn to see correctly in order to draw.  Seeing correctly is  a skill that can be learned, and by "seeing correctly", I mean seeing WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU, not what you THINK or BELEIVE you see in front of you. You see a chair in front of you, you want to draw it, but your knowledge and memory of "chairness" get in the way of an accurate rendering of what is really in front of your eyes. So you draw that, say four legs, a seat, a back with a nice splat perhaps, and it doesn't look anything like what is before you. This book will help you fix this problem.
There are a number of exercises and tools to help you overcome the belief that you could never draw, and a number of before and after examples from Edwards' students to show that anyone can learn to draw.
It's an excellent book.
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2008 06:43:18 PM »

drawing chairs is really hard!  we learned in my basic drawing class last semester, and it really is a lot harder than you'd think. 

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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2008 11:36:12 PM »

Just thinking about it, perspective-wise a chair is probably quite a weird object to draw!  I'll have to have a go later.

Thanks for the recommendation, Space_junk, I had a look on Amazon and it got lots of great reviews and sounds really interesting so I've ordered a copy.

« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2008 08:51:02 PM »

May I suggest "Drawing on the Right side of the brain" a book by Betty Edwards?

As an art major that can hardly draw I second this book. If you don't have 'talent' for drawing you just have to work harder at it. I saw many theater majors become good at drawing just because they were forced to do so many sketches and studies. Just keep drawing, if you want to be really good at it draw everything, especially the hard stuff. I have not had a lot of time to devote to drawing so I am still not as good as I used to be. But it comes back over time. So get paper and keep drawing.
Also, for watercolors, they are very different from other kinds of paints so get a few books or take a class on it because just knowing the basics of the color theory part of water colors will help your color decisions and final works greatly. Hope I could help.
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2008 12:19:05 PM »

The book arrived today!  I've only read a tiny little bit but it is very interesting.  There's more text in it than I'd expected - I'm used to art and craft books being very picture-heavy.  I know what I'll be reading this weekend  Smiley

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