Why It's (Probably) Not Too Late to Start Drawing
By Ben Tyler Elliott
November 5, 2022
A few years, and then months, and then minutes ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to draw. And the first question I’ve always asked myself whenever I’ve set out along this path has always been the same: Why?
Why on earth would I want to start learning something new at this point in my life?
Well, the answer is as simple as it is threefold:
Because it’s difficult.
Because I like a challenge.
And because I enjoy collecting hobbies.
What I didn’t realize at the time (whether it be years, months, or minutes ago) was just how hard it would be. I know that drawing is one of those things that you can’t just “learn” overnight; it takes time, practice, and a lot of patience. But now, just as at the precepices of my previous decisions, I find myself determined, resolute, and mostly unwavering in the face of certain failure.And by “mostly unwavering,” I mean “I'm still not sure if I'm going to keep doing this.”
The First Step is Always the Hardest
The first step in any journey is always the hardest, and learning to draw has been no exception. The hardest part wasn’t necessarily finding the time or resources to dedicate to my new forever-and/or-temporary-hobby—although that was certainly a challenge—but rather getting over the mental hurdle of thinking that I couldn’t do it.
See, the thing about adulting is that we often get stuck in our ways. We become comfortable with our routines and our 9-5 jobs and forget that there’s more to life than just working and sleeping. So when we try something new—especially something that’s outside of our comfort zone—it can be really tough.
I’m not going to lie, there were times when I wanted to give up. In fact: I want to give up right now. There’s a reason I’m typing instead of doodling, and that reason has nothing to do with the need scream from a soapbox into an infinite digital void. It has everything to do with procrastination.
And that I can’t already draw.
I’ll be the first to admit that there have been days, decades, and entireties of my life when my drawings have came out looking more (or exactly) like stick figures than anything else. And of course there have been alwayses where I’ve thought for sure that this whole idea was a terrible mistake.
But then I’d remind myself that learning is supposed to be hard, and that progress is seldom linear. And so I’d pick up my pencil and start drawing again. Or find something Very Important to do instead.
Learning to See Progress as the Platonic Ideal
One of the best things about learning to draw as an adult is that you have a better appreciation for incremental progress. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to get discouraged because you’re constantly comparing your work against that of professional artists—something that’s impossible to compete with. But as an adult, you know that progress takes time, and so you’re able to appreciate even the smallest successes.
For example, one of my favorite things to do now is look back at old drawings and see how far I’ve come. Consider this drawing from over twenty minutes ago:
and compare it to this one from just now:
It’s amazing how much your skills can improve in just a few short minutes when you’re thinking about putting in the effort on a regular basis. And while my drawings still aren’t perfect, it’s nice knowing that I’m thinking about making progress—however slowly it may be.
Wrapping Up… For Now
All in all, it’s moments like these—when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and entertain the idea of thinking about the possibility of considering to learn something new—that make it all worth it. If you’ve been thinking about trying something new lately but haven’t taken the plunge yet, what are you waiting for?
No, really. I’m asking. I’m genuinely interested.
I’m genuinely interested in what it is that you’re waiting for.
Just in case it’s better idea.