It’s hard to imagine that anyone would tell another person to give up on something. It’s even harder to believe that this happened to the artist who drew Weighted Stasis, the figure drawing featured today. It’s by Dan Gheno, author of Figure Drawing Master Class: Lessons in Life Drawing, which is part of a special offer that also includes a one-year subscription to Drawing magazine–an excellent combination of resources. Read his excerpt below on how to train your hand to do what you want it to and achieve your desired results. And if you’re ever told to quit your art, then send the naysayer my way.
Weighted Stasis (2006; colored pencil and white charcoal on toned paper, 24×18) by Dan Gheno. Click here to pin this figure drawing on Pinterest.
Also, there’s still time to enter the Richeson Product Project. In fact, you can enter daily through May 15 for your chance to win free art supplies. Don’t miss your chance–today’s prize alone is valued at $200.
Training Your Hand
by Dan Gheno
How many times have you heard the lament, “I would love to draw and paint–if I had some talent for it.” My response is usually, “You don’t need any talent. You just need to work hard.”
One might be better off not having any talent to start with. Too many people hopelessly fixate on the word “talent.”It is not an easily definable word. Talent is an elusive concept that means many things to many people. It can refer to all aspects of the artistic endeavor, including broad, overarching issues of originality and imagination, and the artist’s ability to organize interesting color and value relationships. But to most people invoking this mysterious word, “talent” simply represents the ability to make the hand do what the eye sees and the brain wants or, to use a technical term, eye-hand coordination.
Many children are born with strong eye-hand coordination. As a kid, I knew young artists of my generation who could draw circles around me. I had so little eye-hand coordination that my more talented friends suggested I give up drawing and find another mode of creativity. Unfortunately, none of those individuals draw anymore. If you are born with great talent and you never had to fight to train your hand, it’s easy to rest on your laurels. As a young artist, it’s hard to know that if you don’t use a talent, you’re condemned to lose it.
As a child, I didn’t personally know any adult artists; I looked to the Old Masters for inspiration. I scrutinized Michelangelo’s life with exasperation, noting that he already had strong control of the medium by his teenage years. I used to lie in bed at night and fantasize about entering into a time warp, where I could spend a decade developing my eye-hand coordination, then returning to my life as a child with some manual dexterity amassed. I knew the next-best solution was to practice, day in and day out, for at least an hour or two daily until I gained the control I lacked.
I practiced straight lines and circles, cubes and pyramids, drawing them repeatedly with abysmal results. I soon realized that I needed a new strategy. Taking a page from the many how-to manuals popular at the time, I started to copy body parts from Old Master drawings, anatomy books and expert comic-book artists of the 1950s and 1960s, trying to collect a vocabulary of visual shapes, just as a writer tries to build up a base of useful words and phrases. ~D.G.
Yours in art,
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