A True Artist is Driven By This

“I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler!”

Oh my, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that worn out phrase, I’d have a custom built studio overlooking the ocean in Fiji. I had one man watch me drawing on an airplane one day and he even said, “I can’t even play a decent game of Hang Man!” Drawing isn’t for everyone, but can anyone be taught to draw well?

This is a very appropriate coffee cup I received from my daughter.

This is a very appropriate coffee cup I received from my daughter.

I say yes. After 35 years of teaching, it has become glaringly apparent that we all have the ability to learn the basic drawing skills. But, that does NOT make everyone an artist.

My sister and I are both artists today, and as children we took piano lessons, quickly learning basic piano skills. It was no problem to practice the notes over and over again until we got them right. It became easy with enough repetition. But we felt nothing. The music came out, but we had no natural connection to it–music just wasn’t our thing. The problem is that passion isn’t something that you can learn.

It’s the same way for art. I can teach anyone the basic techniques and even help students master them. I’ve yet to have a student who simply couldn’t do it. Learning how to draw is very repetitious, and with enough practice, you will become capable. But, that doesn’t make you an artist–it makes you a taskmaster. We all have the ability to learn through repetition, but we can’t be taught how we feel about it.

A true artist is driven by the never-ending desire to create. (Tweet this!) I am one. I can never seem to calm the urge to draw or paint, or write. It’s a never ending cycle of creating, pondering, planning, starting, completing, and starting something anew. The ideas never stop! I won’t live long enough to finish my projects, even if I live to fulfill my wish of living to the age of 109; a promise I’ve made to myself, family and friends… (I am such a positive thinker that I already had it carved on my headstone, 1957-2066. LOL) I could be locked in a room, fed under the door, not allowed to have a new creative thought ever, and I still wouldn’t be able to finish my list of art projects! It’s a frustrating reality.

Some artists aren’t as driven. It isn’t required. I have some students that only create when they come to class, and I have to help them come up with an idea. Yet, they still feel and appreciate the creative process, and have taken my classes for years. It’s their release from the hectic world around them, and they need it.

Some artists are hobbyists, who simply enjoy the process of making something, whether it’s functional, or just pretty to look at. It makes them happy when they do it, but it doesn’t become a career.

There are other artists who view their artwork with more of a business sense, and create ideas for marketing and design. They’re more technical. While it’s a different approach to art, it’s still highly creative and motivating.

Whatever type of artist you are, there is a place for you. The only requirement is that you feel something positive when you do it. It should make you feel accomplished and happy. Artists are exceptionally lucky people, for the rewards are huge, when you feel connected to it.

Art students with Lee Hammond

My work means nothing without my students!

I feel like the most fortunate person on the planet to have the skills and talents that I do, and to feel it so completely. Art is like breathing to me. Without it, I think I would perish. But more importantly, I feel lucky to have you all to share it with. I always say, that without my students and audience to show my work to, what would be the point? I don’t just do it for me, for that would feel empty to me, and self-indulgent.

Many have said that if they had the studio I do, they would never leave it. I feel just the opposite. I rarely use my studio if I’m alone. Without the awesome energy my students provide, it becomes just an empty room. I’ve had projects that required I work in there, and it feels very lonely without my people. I usually do my work in the living room instead, while watching a movie and feeling cozy.

You are why I do what I do. So, a resounding “thank you” to you all! You inspire me as much as I inspire you… We’re all in this together!

Have a great, creative week!
Lee

 

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