My grandma was an artist. She could draw, paint, and tell a fun story. She painted pictures for friends on old tools, or old pieces of slate, she even did paintings for magazines and other places looking for art. Grandma’s paintings were old cowboys, animals, fruit, people, etc. She was amazing. We lived about four hours away and didn’t visit very often. When the grandchildren would come over she would sometimes let us sit at her big art desk with it’s nice light and let us draw with crayons etc. She would hang the pictures on the fridge and praise our youthful attempts at art.
Grandma passed away when I was in the 10th grade, and although I have a lot of memories with her, I wish there were more and I wish I had learned how to draw and paint from her. So last year I decided that even though she wasn’t here I could learn something of her skills. I decided to stop wishing and start doing. My goal was to spend 15 minutes a day learning how to draw/paint and then at least 15 minutes actually drawing or painting. I chose watercolors since that seemed the easiest and most portable paint I could get. I started the years with some cheap paper and a watercolor set from the dollar store. Soon into the year after reading the first few books from the library I upgraded to a decent set of student watercolor paints I got for $15, and some better paper I got for $5 and cut into post card size pieces.
I read every day about drawing or painting. When I had gone through every book at the local library. I started watching videos on YouTube. Some of my favorites were Peter Sheeler, Steve Mitchell, John Muir Laws, and James Gurney. I think I learned the most from James Gurney and John Muir Laws. Anyways I never missed a day in the whole year. Even in my week at scout camp, living in the woods, I had a book, paints, and paper. Some days it was simply a chore before I feel asleep, but I did it.
At first my attempts were…honestly ugly. The trees and apples on the left are from day 1. While the picture on the right is 10 months later!
Some days the painting just didn’t turn out but I tried to learn from each one.
Sometimes they were fun and large pictures that took a few days to complete. And sometimes they were little sketches only 2 or 3 inches.
Sometimes I made cards for neighbors:
Sometimes I would take a week and slowly make a gift of someplace I had been or something I had seen.
In the end of the year I have to say there is no magic pencil, no fantastic brush, no awesome paint kit, or anything I could buy that made me improve. What made the difference was “pencil miles.” Simply put- it was drawing no matter how poorly at first and painting no matter how bad. At least 15 minutes of trying everyday. This is what took me from poor scribbles and paintings to ones I felt I could hang on the wall or even sell.
My challenge to you is not to look at something and say, “that guy or girl is talented I wish I had that talent.” Instead say to yourself, “there is a skill I can get if I put in the miles, do I really want to?” If the answer is yes, then tuck in and DO! If the goal is to be more fit, exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. Give it at least a year. If the goal is to learn to sing or play piano, set aside the time and do it…every day. If the skill is to paint, then paint. Set the goal, and DO it. People are capable of doing just about anything if they will put in the work, that is a gift from God we can too easily take for granted. Our Father in Heaven wants us to learn, grow, and become better. There is nothing out of your reach with his help. So my last bit of advice it to pray about your goal, even if the prayer is simply, “help me.” With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).