Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Encouraging Young Artists (Blog Post Series): An Introduction, and Drawing For The Joy Of It

PigtailGirlWriting 600

I've recently become more interested in resources for young artists, so will be posting more in Sketcharound on this topic. I've been having more conversations with other adults about artistic talent and creativity, and whether grown-ups who claim not to be able to draw can learn to draw for fun again.

My mom
But this got me thinking: when we are very young children, we draw with joy and without self-consciousness. Then...we grow up.

We all start out drawing random (random to adult eyes, anyway) scribbles. Some of us get better at it while others give up. While so-called innate talent may exist, I am convinced that a major factor is encouragement or discouragement from grown-ups at home and at school.

My mom liked to draw, and was my earliest artistic influence. She was a housewife and devoted to her children, but I'm positive that she could have been a successful illustrator in another life. She used to spend hours drawing with Ruth, Jim and me.

In the beginning, I remember mostly wanting her to draw princesses: anime-eyed beautiful creatures with sumptuous dresses and fancy shoes. Later on, she would draw part of the princess and ask me to finish the dress.

She'd also do a lot of sketching while we drew our own pictures: mostly sketches of us, which fascinated us. I drew more and more. I NEVER remember her pointing out any inaccuracy, or advising me to fix anything. I just remember the joy of drawing.

Comic I did when I was 16
Fast-forward years later: my sister Ruth went to art school and has now illustrated over 50 books (some of which she has also written). Over the years, I did comics and webcomics for fun as well as posting my doodles online. Then came the summer of 2010, when my friend Beckett (the same Beckett who co-writes this blog!) convinced me to enter the SCBWI Illustration Showcase in LA…and I ended up with a book contract.

There are many who think I just stumbled into children's book illustration out of nowhere. I have no formal art training, after all, and have been focusing on writing. But the fact is that I've been drawing all my life, and mostly just for the fun of it.

From now on, my Sketcharound posts are going to focus on drawing for joy as well as advice and resources for adults who want to encourage young artists. And if you're a grown-up who thinks they can't draw but want to draw: STOP WITH THE NEGATIVITY. Start drawing. You don't have to show anyone. Get a sketchbook and start doodling as often as you can, just for your own enjoyment. I'll write more on this in a future post.

-- Debbie


  1. That's wonderful, Debbie. Thank you for sharing! I'm going to try to keep this in mind and encourage my daughter to keep drawing for the love of it--she's already comparing her art to what other kids in her class do and deciding hers isn't "good enough."

    1. Hey, Erin - if you guys play at drawing, it could help kick-start the fun of it, with drawing games like exquisite corps or "what I want for dinner" (what I DON'T want for dinner?)

  2. Great start, guys. I know some kids at my son's school who could use a boost. Looking forward to future posts.

  3. Great post, Debbie. Thanks for spreading the encouragement!

  4. I really like the art of your site. . .thanks a lot for showing it to me..
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