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If I could see it, I would be a freaking artist


This essay refers to some images hence more readable when viewed with them. If you are seeing this in an email then click to view in a new tab.

I am terrible at drawing. I wanted to get rid of this ineptitude.

The belief that I could never-draw-well was so firmly grounded in my mind that I thought of asking advice. I say this as it isn’t normal for me to ask advice, I prefer trying it out.

That day, about two years ago, I approached my art adviser, a colleague of mine Amrutha, and asked “I’ve tried drawing a couple of times but I seem to not get it. How do you draw?”

She said – “Well, before you draw you gotta see it”.

That was profound. I stood there contemplating. After few moments went back to my cubicle and sat down. Today, I am jobless and free and I’ve also written a post where I argue that there is nothing that comes from birth, it is acquired over time, the talent. I told myself – ‘It shouldn’t be a big deal to draw. It is just another form of art, practice and you’ll get better at it. It should be that way, Aristotle himself told it’.

I started drawing a mouse. No, not the ‘mouse’ mouse, the computer mouse. The mouse was connected to my laptop on my mini-table. The table had an angled surface and was placed on my bed. I took out a book and a pencil and laid my back on the two pillows behind me and I gazed on the mouse. Isn’t that what artists do? ;)

Here is what came out

Trial 1: Mouse Pencil Art

Trial 1: Mouse Pencil Art

Needless I say, it sucked. Before I started my second attempt I did an introspection of the result.

I came up with the following observation: I am easily able to visualize the mouse and its shape in detail for the top view but find it extremely hard to visualize it in the current perspective (see the image below)

I was trying to draw this

I was trying to draw this

With the awareness of the above observation, I made another attempt. Here is the result.

Trial 2: Mouse Pencil Art

Trial 2: Mouse Pencil Art

Yeah, I know, I am on my way there, but it is still away.

The problem is: I look at the mouse from my cozy position, try to visualize and draw, and soon the top view of mouse image would pop up in my head and distort the actual visual resulting in a bad drawing.

This popping up and distortion of visuals was an Eureka moment for me, an important discovery not only in terms of drawing but otherwise too. I derived some lessons

Lesson 1: We are conditioned about everything – on how something should look or be or work

Consider this : If you ask any adult or teenager in India who doesn’t draw, to draw a picture with nature as the theme, I bet that person would draw a scenery. And that scenery would contain two mountains and the sun rising between those peaks. And down the hill there would be that house with a triangular top and rectangular bottom with square windows. Cliched drawing of the century!

With drawing it is so obvious that every drawing is not in front or top view and houses are not perfect triangles and rectangles. But most of us including me fail to carry awareness of drawing outside. We think we see it but normally we are far from it.

Lesson 2: It takes practice and patience to see something as is.

All things worth learning – listening, writing, drawing and making art needs practice. It is only over time we get near to see things as they are.

With these two lessons I make my third attempt

Trial 3: Mouse Pencil Art

Trial 3: Mouse Pencil Art


Now I think of it, makes sense. That is exactly why kids are fast learners, they carry a beginner’s mind. They don’t have preconceived notions about the world.

And here, I can’t stop myself from telling – Hell with the conditioning. If I could see it as is, I would be a freaking artist!


  1. pommy says:

    seriously the best of your article . I see a lot of hardworking in this post. there was some substance in this one. comparing to all the previous post this was more like a professional one. your website must belong to chicken soup for the soul series

  2. Sanjay says:

    I liked the 2nd picture the best. It looks more of a mouse (except the bottom-most part). Nice introspection.

    Btw your post reminds me to take up my long-procrastinated art classes. I want to be a cartoonist, and the drawing instructor said I should start by learning portrait drawing. He said I could come any Wednesday or Saturday for a class (just need to call up half a day in advance). I remember this on lots of days except Wed / Sat!! So today is a wednesday and I’ll make it finally :) Will post the result to you too.

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