a tap shoe and an owl statue

Today I drew a tap shoe and an owl statue.

My creative (non-work-writing) goal for February is to draw every day–though at the rate I’m going, it’s more like Draw Every Other Day.

I didn’t draw much as a kid. Actually, I hated art class. I didn’t have an abundance of natural artistic talent. The disconnect between the picture in my head and the one on my page frustrated me. My Bs and Cs in art dragged down an otherwise stellar report card–which made me rather cross.

And I was slow. My art pad was filled with incomplete projects since I always ran out of time. (I’m that way with all hands-on work, including labs. I was always the last one out of lab, one of the reasons I didn’t minor in chemistry. I never finished my wooden-spoon doll with the paper mache head nor my embroidery sampler in Handwork during elementary school. And yes, it still galls after all these years!)

I would’ve rather done extra math than painted a still life.

But, secretly, I always wished I could draw well.

There were two things I didn’t understand about art when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s because no one ever told me, or that I didn’t listen (I was stubborn, too, as well as being a loather-of-art-class).

First, you can learn art. What I thought of as talent is mainly skill. A teachable skill. No one ever taught me things like how to use my art materials, how to create depth, or the proportions of the human face. I didn’t realize that one could take art skills and break them down into smaller steps, and that an ordinary person like me could learn them.

Second, because I had it in my mind that being good at art was an innate talent–either you had it or you didn’t–I never bothered to practice it. One art class a week was not enough to make up for my lack of giftedness. If I wanted to draw well–and yes, I wanted to, still do–I should’ve been practicing.

Twenty years later, with a writing career and homeschooled kids, I’m finally squeezing it in. It’s not much, it’s not going to be consistent, but it’s still keeping the dream alive.

How about you? Do you have something that you secretly wish you could do well? Something that’s always appealed to you, but that you’ve never tried?

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  1. says

    People learn that I sing, and most immediately say, “I can’t carry a tune.” Well, actually, unless you speak in a complete monotone, which is rare, you CAN carry a tune. You just have to learn how. It takes practice, but you can learn to match pitches and open up your vocal sound. Music majors take college classes in ear training and vocal production, to refine their instrument. It’s a skill, like any other.
    All that said, I’ll admit that I was in your camp, Rabia, thinking art had to be some innate, mysterious talent that you either possessed or…not. So yes, draw every day. And when you get something you like, post it here so we can all enjoy it.

    • Rabia says

      I also thought I was not-musical until I took piano lessons at the ripe old age of 29 and discovered that not only did I do well at it, but lessons also increased my musicality. They made me a better singer, for one. Vocal training has been on my This Would Be Fun To Try list for a while. :)

      It’s scary to think about posting a drawing (yikes!) but I think it will be good for me to do so. *gulp*

  2. Deborah Koren says

    “The disconnect between the picture in my head and the one on my page frustrated me.”

    Yes! That! I can see exactly what my pencil drawing looks like in my head, but I cannot get it on paper the way I see it. Art was not something that was offered as a class until college though, so I never got a class in it. I used to trace a lot to learn that way. My family has been playing a game we made up called “Erased!” which is like the show Chopped! on the cooking station. We all take paper and pen and have to draw the same scene from a randomly selected movie, then my b-i-l looks them over and someone gets eliminated, and so we go until there is a winner. It’s mostly just for the sheer amusement factor of how we badly we recreate the movie scenes on paper. There is a lot of laughing and silliness involved.

    I love your plan to draw every day to improve those skills.

    I do wish I could sing opera well. I sing opera every day regardless, but I wish I’d been trained to sing it for real.

    • Rabia says


      I love your family game! It sounds like a lot of fun.

      You may be the only person I know who loves opera. Think you could do a guest post about it for me? *bats eyelashes* I’d love to read about it from the perspective of someone who loves the form!

      • Deborah Koren says

        Sure! Considering it’s the thing in the world I love most above all else, even over books, movies, and writing, I should be able to write up something. What are you most interested in knowing about it? Or should I just write about why I’m so passionate about it?

  3. says

    Practice is the key to perfection. I’m finding that cooking and cleaning—formerly not my strong points—are now one of the easiest things to do for me simply because of practice. And I love your wanting to draw. I always wanted to be able to draw and the skillset didn’t even come with much practice using math to try making straight lines. I eventually realized that graphic art and writing were good enough for me. I wanted to be a musician too once, and well. I had to pick one. I picked writing.

    • Rabia says

      *nod* Right now, I can really only do one creative thing well (not counting school, parenting, cleaning, etc.) and that’s writing. Everything else–drawing, embroidery, piano–is dabbling. But it’s also nice to have hobbies that you do for fun, rather than to be really good at.

  4. says

    I wouldn’t mind being able to draw a little bit. I maintain a delusion that if I could draw, I’d totally sketch out ideas for what important things might look like when planning a new story or something. But the reality is I usually dive into writing stuff without even making maps of major location, and those I can draw. Still, it’s great to nurture a new skill every now and then.

    • Rabia says

      Yeah, for a fantasy writer I’m really not into drawing my own maps. I will do so every now and again–but only if the story absolutely requires it and with much groaning. It’d be nice to have studied real city and topographical maps, but chalk that up–again–to a lack of time.

      I figure that learning a new skill will give me a fresh perspective, one that I can funnel back into writing.

      It all comes back to the writing. *wry*

  5. says

    I always drew. That was the thing I could do well, and I did it lot because I loved it. And still, I could never even begin to portray the images in my head like other artists can. It took writing to do that. :)
    Writing is/was the thing I wished I could do well, and never had the nerve to really try! I find it much scarier than drawing to put my words out for the world to read, but I imagine I’ll get used to it.
    Your sense of adventure in trying your hand at art is so inspiring. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I’m sure it will be wonderful. :)

  6. says

    Yes, I wish I could draw better too. I practice with my kids now — and I came to similar revelations as you did, about the process, the ability to learn. I also wish I could play the piano. I’ll get there, someday.

    • Rabia says

      March is going to be my “Play the piano every day” month. I wish I could go back to lessons, but it doesn’t really fit in the budget or schedule any more. I feel worse that 8 yo and 6 yo had to stop, too. They don’t mind it as much as I do, though. 😛

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