“I can do that” syndrome

Fashion illustration

When you look at art, do you have the “I can do that” syndrome? But can you really, at this point in your artistic path? Let’s find out.

Clearly, you won’t get anywhere by thinking you can’t do something, but between “can’t and can” there is a world of work.

I have been following my schedule almost every day. I have been making an imaginary animal for the 100 days project without missing a beat. Some days I rush through it, some days I take my time.

I keep checking books out of the library to “learn” more techniques or to learn the “secret” technique that will take my work from amateur to professional.

But there is none, there is a trick here, a trick there.

Mostly I spend my days staring at a work I like and breaking it into tiny pieces.

  • What size is it in reality?
  • What mediums did the artist use?
  • Did she draw it freehand?
  • Did she draw it on scrap paper and then with a light-box drew on top?
  • Does she just grab an Arches watercolour sheet and go at it with abandon?
  • What color palette is she using?
  • What can I learn just by looking intently and not having to resort to reading a book?
  • Where are the highlights, how did she achieve them?

At this point, I feel I’m still on a raft in the immense ocean that is illustration, watercolor, mixed media and the rest but I’m honing in on my preferences:

  • I like to work small
  • I prefer drawing melancholic, neurotic, innocent portraits
  • I favour monochromatic or full vibrant colors. No pastels.
  • I don’t like to draw nature, still life or buildings that much (despite loving Urban Sketching)
  • I DEFINITELY love flowy, inaccurate, scribbly art than high precision illustration.

The thing is, when you are pursuing your artistic expression, humility goes a long way. The “I can do that” frame of mind, puts pressure on the discovery process.

If you take a class and you sit down to really do the exercises, you will realize how difficult certain techniques are despite it looking so easy.

No, you can’t do that. Not yet.

And it’s OK, because if you look around you, there are other things you can do that you couldn’t just a month ago.

By Luisa Fernanda

Artist, Illustrator, Cruelty-Free Advocate. Notion Geek.