I usually write about writing, because a writer is what I want to be, but this post is about my drawing. Except it isn’t really, it’s about improvement, and how you may not even notice it. I’m just using my drawings for it. And yes, I am going to put some in the post, just to demonstrate my point. And because I want to, and it seems like a reasonable excuse to. Mostly that.
So, I’m not the greatest at drawing, and mostly I only draw my own characters. I don’t even give them a background most of the time, because I’m not good at backgrounds, and often they’re just stood there. But I am improving, even if it’s not at a tremendous rate, and I know this because one year ago I began keeping an art scrapbook. Because I like drawing, I like scrapbooking, I had just bought a scrapbook I had no use for on the basis it was pretty and needed to justify my decision… yes, it seemed to make sense as something to do.
Since then, I’ve not become brilliant. Most of the improvement I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But it is there. And I can only see it because I have the scrapbook (scrapbooks, I filled up the first one), to compare it with.
And that’s my point. Improvement isn’t always obvious. It isn’t always big. But a small improvement is still an improvement, and the fact is it’s highly unlikely you’re going to make big bounds forwards just like that, in any craft. So it’s difficult to notice when you’ve got better at something, and thus easy to be a bit disheartened because you don’t feel you’ve improved. But the fact is, if you’re doing something regularly then the likelihood is that you have improved.
You’re also going to get better at spotting the flaws, seeing problems you couldn’t recognise before. That’s happened with my drawings. I can see some problems with the older ones, and it’s honestly baffling to me that at some point I looked at those and not only didn’t recognise the issue, I actually thought it looked good like that. The necks, and the mouths, and I don’t know what was going on when I tried to draw faces in profile. That’s definitely the area I’ve improved most on, and I’m sure something I have a lot of work to do on. My attempts at faces in profile can still come out as monstrosities, and I’m sure even the ones that look good to me have many issues. But they’re not as bad as they were.
It really does help, looking at the older drawings. Because while I’m sure there’s many flaws I can’t see now, there are some I can see. And it can be frustrating, knowing something is wrong, but not seeming to be able to fix it. But I will, because I can see how much better it is than it once was.
But you have to keep going to get here. I got better at drawing through doing it a lot. It’s the same with writing, or any skill, really. Yes, you do need to think about what you can do to improve, look properly at whatever it is you’ve done, but just sitting there thinking about how terrible it all is won’t achieve anything. That’s stating the obvious, isn’t it? But I find myself doing it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And you can’t really know for sure if something is going to work until you try it. Well, there’s some things you know will, especially with drawing. Like starting to use basic rules. But still, you need to experiment and see for yourself how different things come out. And sometimes there isn’t anything specific wrong with something you’re doing, it’s just not as good as it could be, and you need to keep practising until you can do it properly. With my drawings, sometimes I’ll do a noticeable, conscious shift in the way I draw something, and other times it will just start looking better the more I do it.
So yes, it can seem like it will be hard to improve, and it does take effort. But the effort goes into trying. But improvement will happen if you try, it might be big, it might be small, but improvement is improvement, and even if you can’t see it just now, that doesn’t mean you haven’t got any better.