Why do grown adults insist they can not draw as well as a preschooler?
When I tell someone that I am an artist, more often than not they respond with “I can’t even draw a stick figure.”
As a certified art teacher, I happen to know from both anecdotal evidence and the Creative Curriculum for Preschool that drawing stick figures is a 3- and 4-year-old skill. Why, then, do grown adults continue to insist that they are not capable of drawing as well as a preschooler?
Many adults would be embarrassed to admit they had a preschool level of math (adding), reading (think c-a-t), or social skills (did you share the office donuts?). Why not take pride in being at least as visually literate as a preschooler by honestly attempting to draw a stick figure?
When faced with a pencil and paper and pressed to attempt a stick figure, most adults will produce one because it is well within their ability to do so. The statement “I can’t even draw a stick figure” is more often the expression of a belief that “I can’t draw, I’ve never been good at it, and I’m afraid to really try.”
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The statement 'I can't even draw a stick figure' is more often the expression of a belief that 'I can't draw, I've never been good at it, and I'm afraid to really try.'"
I argue that the issue at hand isn’t that someone can’t draw, it is that they have not yet been taught how to draw representationally (which in my experience is what most people are aspiring to when they say they wish to draw).
Like reading, drawing realistically is its own set of skills that takes time and training under a knowledgeable person in order to learn. An illiterate person is not likely to be able to teach you how to read, and art instructors without representational drawing training are unlikely to be able to teach you how to draw realistically.
Art is a vast field with niches in abstract expressionism and various other non-representational "-isms". If you want to draw realistically, you need to find an art instructor that has realistic drawing skills, and not all art instructors do.
So if you have tried learning how to draw in the past and failed, it's not because you just don't have "it". It's that you didn't have access to a teacher with the skillset you were looking to acquire.
If you want to draw realistically, you need to find an art instructor that has realistic drawing skills, and not all art instructors do."
Luckily for you, I am an art teacher with representational drawing training and I am going to show you how to draw a stick figure. Not just any old stick figure, but a good stick figure that will help you draw realistically if you choose to pursue stick figures to their natural conclusions (i.e. full figure drawings).
Hopefully, everyone reading this now 1) believes that they are capable of drawing a stick figure and 2) will give learning how to draw a stick figure an honest try.
If you wish to draw a stick figure well, it is important to understand that the "sticks" really represent bones in the human skeleton, which would eventually be filled out with flesh to create a believable figure. In order for your drawing to have a believable feel to it, these "bones" need to be the right proportion to each each other. Otherwise, you might end up with some very fantastical looking beasts, but they won't necessarily look human.
So how do you create a stick figure with good proportion?
This free slide presentation will show you step-by-step exactly how to draw a stick figure with good proportions where the "sticks" accurately represent the sizes of human bones in relation to the figure as a whole.
You see, you can draw a stick figure. A good one. A useful one. One that you can build on to create more complex figure drawings if you so desire. But first, you have to believe it is possible.
P.S. Want to learn more art skills? Check out all of our free art lesson plans.
Did this article change your mind about drawing? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Mandy Theis is a licensed art teacher and former Co-President of the Washington Art Education Association. She knows that anyone can learn to draw and paint realistically that as access to a teacher with these skills. Ready to improve your drawing and painting game? Join her newsletter for lesson plans, musings, & other art delights delivered right to your inbox.
Hello Lovely Art Teachers & Friends, and welcome to the Dept. of Aesthetics blog!
My name is Mandy Theis, and I am a classically trained artist and licensed art teacher. I know that anyone can learn how to draw who takes the time to learn from someone who has the skills.
I started this blog to help answer all the questions that land in my inbox every day about drawing and painting. My goal is to provide quality content about how to draw and paint well, and how to teach art skills successfully.
In this blog, I am going to share with you everything I know about drawing and painting - from materials and methods to introducing you to people, places, and ideas that will help you improve your drawing and painting skills.
I'm also going to share with you everything I know about how to efficiently teach art skills to others.
Have a question about drawing or painting? Want to see me cover a specific topic? Make sure to leave requests and comments so I can provide the knowledge you want most!
I look forward to this journey into ArtEducationLand with all of you!
Dept. of Aesthetics Blog
Mandy Theis is a licensed art teacher and atelier-trained artist. She is the former Co-President of the Washington Art Education Association and Director of School of Atelier Arts.