It’s relatively easy to recognize good art (or writing or music or whatever).
Some people have terrible taste, but most of us do alright.
It’s also relatively easy to conceptualize the act of drawing in our heads.
Or even watch it on a YouTube video — Draw with me! — when someone else’s rendering looks so easy.
So you go to take the leap and try it for yourself. You grab a sketchpad, and a pencil, and say “Self, today we’re going to draw X.”
(Congratulations for taking that leap, btw.)
Despite what your brain knows to be true, despite all the time you’ve spent looking at reality and at artful depictions of it, what comes out on the other end of your pencil is trash.
Your eyeball neurons don’t know how to connect with your finger neurons. Your fingers don’t know how to hold the pencil. You try to see what is in front of you, but you cannot recreate it.
There is a gap.
When you are a child, it’s easier to see past it. Maybe you don’t even know that it exists, because you haven’t yet had the chance to take in great works of art. So you practice, and you improve, but you never cringe at yourself.
As an adult, you know full well what you’re producing is garbage.
Maybe you want to stop, in shame, thinking that you should be better — even though there’s no way you could be better, having never drawn X before.
There’s now a conceptual gap, not just a behavioral one: you versus what you think you should be. Nevermind that your conception of yourself is unrealistic.
The hardest part is knowing that it is impossible to jump or bridge or maneuver around the gap. The only way across is through — through all the garbage and the shame and the unknown.
I started drawing again this past week, after a very long time of not drawing. I did a practice sketch this evening.
Guess what? It was garbage.
Nobody wants to look at garbage, especially myself.
But it’s the first step into the gap. Someday, with effort and persistence, I’ll get to the other side.
Maybe then my drawings will be worth looking at.
In the meantime, I’m going to watch THE GAP on repeat.