Drawing for the No-Longer Terrified

08 November 2013

Long story short - I spent last month making out my Five Year Plan, all the things I want to do and see and be, and this all started for real on November 1st. Now, one of the entries on my list was Learn How To Draw. Not Get Better At Drawing. Not Learn More Drawing Techniques. No. Learn How To Draw. Because here's a little story for ya'll - when I was a schoolkid, way back in the 70s, and drawing and painting and collaging up a storm, happy as anything, my teachers said to me: "You cannot draw, and you cannot be an artist, because what you are drawing does not resemble what is in front of you." And this destroyed my confidence, destroyed my ability, destroyed everything. It was decreed: I Cannot Draw. The artist part took me three decades to get to, and a bit of a passage through Hell, but the courage came along with the voice and Artist I became. But still: I Cannot Draw. Writ large. So, there is the entry in my Five Year Plan, and I took a deep breath, and set up a chat with Jake Spicer of Draw over at New England House, and between us we decided that it was time for me to seize the fish because there just so happened to be the very first lesson of the new three month cycle the very next day. Come along, he said. Ok, I said. I'll try. I will. I'll come along.

Georgy... you CAN draw

The lesson was two and half hours long and my terror level never subsided throughout the whole thing, despite Jake being an amazing teacher, despite the lovely bunch of people who were my fellow students, despite the relaxed coffee break in the middle. I was terrified and had the Headache from Hell all the way through. We paired off and drew each other. We drew a sheep's skull. We drew a life model sitting in a chair. The headache did not let up for one second and my terror never subsided. I wanted to bolt out of the door. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stand up and announce that I was definitely in the wrong place, the wrong room, the wrong life. But I didn't. I stayed in my chair and I kept on going, scribbling and shading away with my pencil until Jake said that it was time to stop and the lesson was over. I quite literally slumped on to the desk in front of me and let out an audible sigh of relief.

And that was when Jake appeared next to me, looked over my shoulder, studied my life drawing and said: "Georgy... you CAN draw." And then I really did want to burst in to tears as this huge, decades-long boulder lifted off my shoulders and evaporated into thin air. "You have a definite style," said one of the other students. There was a short discussion about Picasso, and shapes, and how people see things differently but that doesn't equate to wrong. And that was all I needed to hear when I was a small child. "What you've just drawn doesn't necessarily resemble what I see - but it clearly is what YOU see. Keep going and have fun with it." My next lesson is tomorrow and I Cannot Wait. xxx

Things I've done so far in my Five Year Plan:

  • Started training to be a hospital radio DJ - a lifetime ambition
  • Have two make up jobs lined up at the NVT
  • Have finished my piece for the 100 Artists for World AIDS Day, and have a spot confirmed for one more show, with a submission in consideration for one other
  • Yay!!

And another thing

Life drawing lessons from Jake and his team
Draw at New England House

A free Pomodoro for all your Five Year Plans!
The mighty Tomighty


  1. What you have done, Georgy, is more than just realise that you CAN draw: you have faced your fears that have grown and festered over 30 years AND you have faced the additional fears of finding the remedy.Art is a most subjective subject and it occurs to me that few artists actually draw/paint exactly what they see in front of them: they place their own interpretation on things. That you were not told this but baldly told that you could not draw has done incalculable damage to your own self esteem, taken away 30 years of your artistic life and robbed us of your own special genius. Criticism is one thing, but failure to understand what the artist is trying to say is another thing altogether. Now you have the chance to prove them wrong and that your art IS valid to all those who appreciate it. Go get 'em, kid

    1. Let's see what I can achieve this week! :) xxx