They say that anyone can do anything. It is only a question of how hard they work. But is it a matter of practice? What about talent? Can I learn to do something I have no talent for? I always wanted to learn how to draw. People tried to teach me, I bought many books, but nothing seemed to help. I became desperate, until one day I found a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.
I tried the exercises and was still quite skeptical about them. Then, there was an exercise where I had to place Picasso’s drawing of Stravinsky upside down, then copy it following the contour of the lines. I didn’t quite understand what I was doing and why, but somehow it came out quite acceptable and even I could admit there was a similarity to the original. I liked the exercise and I kept working on it for a while. Every time I saw a portrait I placed it upside down and tried to copy it. I was not at all satisfied with my progress and thought I was hopeless. One day, a friend came to visit and saw a portrait of a politician that I had just made using this upside down method. “What made you draw this awful, disgusting politician?” he asked me. I apologized, saying I had seen the picture on the front page of the newspaper earlier that day. At the same time I realized that, ‘wow, he actually recognized the face of that politician’. I was so surprised and proud of myself that at that moment I decided to quit. This little success was enough for me to understand that
- Anyone can do anything.
- Practice alone is not enough. You must have a method, a system that works for you.
- Talent is a complicated matter and I will have to write about it some other time.
All the drawing methods that I had tried might have helped millions of people, but they were useless for me, no matter how hard I practiced. I had to find the one way that worked for me. It is the same with my students: whatever works for one, will not necessarily work for another.
So next time someone tells you the old joke about the tourist in New York who asks a person on the street : “How do you get to Carnegie hall?”
Don’t just answer “practice, practice…” but rather “practice in a way that works for you”.
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