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Apples, dammit! D-:

Journal Entry: Sat Oct 11, 2008, 6:36 AM
EDIT:  By request, I posted this as a deviation.  Thanks for your responses!  

The Big Secret to Learning How to Draw:

In the Beginning... You see an apple, and you draw an apple.  You look at your drawing, and it's utter crap.  It looks nothing like the real thing, and you wonder why.  "Hey, a real apple is red and round.  My drawing is red and round.  Huh.  What's wrong?"

You draw some more apples.  Many times.  

And finally, one day, you have a Eureka! moment.  You realize, *d'oh!* a real apple isn't entirely round!  It's wider at the top, narrower underneath.  It's got funky little lumps at the bottom.  It's got a dip like a crazy deep belly button at the very top.  You draw another apple.  The result is better, but it's still crap.  Much nicer crap than before, but still.... Hmm.

You draw more apples.  Repeat.  

Another day of drawing, another Eureka! moment.  Hello!  The red isn't really red.  This particular apple is slightly darker than true red.  And it's got some tiny tan spots on it.  And at the top, the red turns into a pale green color near the stem.   You draw an apple once again.  And hey, it's getting close, but still not quite there.  And you wonder why.

So you keep drawing and drawing, blah blah, repeat.

And one day, after you've been drawing apples to the point where you never want to eat an apple ever again, you realize.... Holy crud!  The redness of the apple shifts with lighting!  There's a circular white spot for hard light sources.  There's a softer, fuzzier light reddish orange spot for softer light sources.  Back to the drawing board.  The apple drawing is getting pretty good now, but still not quite right.  Geez, how long does it take to learn to draw a friggin' apple anyway?

Blah blah, more drawing....

... Texture!  You forgot texture!  Little bumps on the surface!  It's not perfectly smooth!  Aha! to draw those bumps?  Hmm.... Oh!  Those bumps show up as color shifts!  You mix some lighter reds with the subtle, darker red splotches.  You break up the highlights a bit so that they're not just round white circles.  They're slightly irregular circles, and sometimes they have little satellite circles surrounding the main highlight circle.  And while we're at it, those green streaks near the top of the apple sometimes spread out a little in a star-like pattern, although it's really faint, and the color at the tips of the stars look more orange or yellow than green.  And hey, since we're looking closely, this apple is so shiny, you don't just see highlight from lights on it.  You can actually vaguely see a reflection of the rest of the kitchen on it.  The shapes are really vague and they don't affect the color much, but they're there.  Just a slight hint of shadow on the apple surface.  And oh!  The apple is on a white table, and the reflection of the table is visible on the lower half of the apple as a hint of lighter red.  And at the edge of the apple, that reflected color is a bit stronger so that it actually causes a near-white outline on the bottom half of the shape of the apple.  Woaaah, never noticed all that stuff before!  Seriously, there's hardly a single large spot on this apple that is uniform in color!  So much to think about in such a simple object!  (And at this point, your roommate walks in and wonders why you're staring at this apple, titillated, like you just met the love of your life.)

So now, you can draw an apple wonderfully when you're looking at it.  But you go to draw it without a real life model or a photo reference, and it looks like crap again.  *headdesk*  So what's wrong?

Uh-huh.  You don't know the apple as well as you think you do.  So you go look at more apples, and you obsessively try to memorize them.  You study different kinds and note how they vary in color and shape.  You compare to see how different apples are similar to each other, and how they're completely different.

Meanwhile, you keep drawing apples.

And one glorious day, you realize you can draw an apple from memory, and it looks pretty damned good!   Yay!

... And then you realize YEARS have gone by.  D-:

It didn't happen in a day.  It didn't happen in a week.  And you are disheartened, thinking that you must be the world's biggest idiot if it takes you YEARS to learn to draw a stoopid apple.  (Never mind a more complicated shape like a human!  Or a human in a dynamic pose!  Or a human in a dynamic pose standing in front of a crazy background with nutty perspective!  And multiple light sources!  Aaaargh.  Time to crawl back into bed and never come out.  Ha ha.)  

But I digress....

Yeah, why did it take so long to learn?  Hmm.  Maybe all along, while you were drawing them incorrectly, your brain was slowly learning and assimilating and percolating.  And part of the process is to collect bits of data and munch on them for a bit.  That mental munching takes time.  And without the time, you wouldn't have had those Eureka! moments because your brain wouldn't have been ready to make the leap just yet.  

The years you spent, they have nothing to do with how simple the form of an apple is.  They have everything to do with developing a different way of seeing the world.  Seriously.  Congratulate yourself!  You didn't spend years learning to draw a piece of fruit!  You spent years learning  how to see in AN ENTIRELY NEW WAY.  And learning a new way to see is quite an accomplishment.  Because now, if you want to draw something else, like, say, a banana... You won't have to spend years learning it like you did with the apple.  It'll only take a short amount of time to learn because the groundwork has already been done.  Your brain knows how to approach the task now.  

That new vision is what takes time.  And that new vision and understanding is what you can't get just from mindlessly reading a book or doing a tutorial.  Those resources can help, but only if you put forth the effort and actually bother to think while you're using them.

And sadly, so many people don't seem to get it.  They think there's some Ultra Secret Shortcut to learning how to draw.  If a tutorial doesn't help, they think they're simply using the wrong tutorial, and they go off in search of the right one, not knowing that they'll probably never find it, and they'll just be disappointed.

And all along, the answers are in their own head if they'd only put in the effort and the time.  But hey, some people can barely wait 5 minutes for a burger at the drive-thru.  Asking for years of dedication's just absurd.  Especially when you've got Wonderful Things like Photoshop and Magic Tutorials.  Right?  *..... sigh.*



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Add a Comment:
Flower-Neko Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2009
Darn it! How come there's no "Favourite Journal" option? D:

Love it! I suppose this comment shall have to do. (:
S-Tar Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2008
You're awesome.
You're so awesome, that I can't articulate just how much of awesome you are right now.
alovedmemory Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2008   Photographer
what an amazing journey an apple can do to a human brain. the message in the text is brilliant. this could very well be the most simple way to teatch people that everything doesnt come on a instant, it takes years of hard work! amazing text should be like a sticky on every art site on the interwebs! :clap:
quandry247 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2008   Digital Artist
but but i wanna draw draaaagons!

heh, yeah, good point tho :grins:
kamizuki Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2008

I've followed your art ever since I came across your site at several years ago, and it's been really rewarding just observing your progress - it makes this piece of prose all the more meaningful to me personally. Kudos for articulating the struggle of all artists of all ages and from all places and walks of life!! :thumbsup:

Re: "why did it take so long to learn?" - LOL, speaking for myself, I definitely don't consider that I've made much of a dent into the totality of what there is to learn in terms of art, but looking at some of my older stuff I can definitely relate to the sentiment embodied in that question hahaha! :lol:

That was an enjoyable read, thanks for writing it!
zathraya Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
so true. It's takes really long but in the long run I think you realize it was worth the trouble and you can laugh at what you thought you did good on a long time ago. ^^

Now I want to eat an apple!
Hubby-N-Dad Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2008
mmmm it is apple season here in upstate NY.... [ takes a bite ]
dancingelf Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008  Professional Photographer
Haha, loved the way you wrote that! :lol:
And you are sooo right!! :nod:
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Thanks, dancingelf! :)
BrokenEver Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
:w00t: Well-said!
JJcanvas Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
So, so true. Great journal.
Practice is everything :)
Eeni Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional General Artist
So the secret wasn't to kill and suck other artist's brains out! It all makes sense now!!!
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Have you ever tried sucking brains out with a straw?!!?! It's really tiring on your cheek muscles. D:
Eeni Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2008  Professional General Artist
I gave up on the straws a long time ago... they were, as you said, rather painful and inefficient.
HowlSeage Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Yay, i can pat myself on the back! This just clicked for me too. Im learning how to see, and things in my brain are working in ways i never thought they would. Im studying so hard everyday, but sometimes it feels like nothing is happening until i step back from a finished painting..wootz.
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Oops. Cut off my last post....

Those long periods of going nowhere are really prepping you for the Eureka moments. :-P
HowlSeage Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Yup, I couldnt have said it any better myself. One thing to note though. Every "eureka" moment feels MMM!!! So damn good!! haha. Its like you have this total grasp and you feel so confident in your work, and you usually can completely out do whatever it was you last did. Gotta love it.
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Yeah, it's one of those things where you really can't explain it easily. A person just needs to realize it on their own, and they won't truly understand what the rest of us are talking about until they go through it themselves. So I can see why it's so difficult for beginners. They're going by faith and trust, since they haven't felt this new way of seeing for themselves. And it must be frustrating to draw and draw and feel like you're getting nowhere. They don't realize that those long periods of "going nowhere"
Catwagons Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
You couldn't have said it better. Hats off to you.
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2008
Thank you! :)
WCSallySally Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
Wow! This is Art Zen. Awesome.

Many in my family have "The Gift" .. their brains have already mastered this, and they just effortlessly (or maybe not quite effortless, but certainly more easily) can draw or paint or sculpt beautiful things.

I am the bookish person who is supposed to love words, and I do, but I crave what I lack from time to time ... sooooooooo......

When the PC came out, and I had to make things for the company (labels, stationary, etc) and it cost an arm and a leg --(almost as bad as gasoline last week) --- to have it done professionally; -- I bought PSP, and found ... OMG ... I can do this a little bit-- and bingo .. I had my nose glued to the PC screen for a few years (actually still do).

I have not developed "The Art Skill" and I still cannot draw ... but I can "manipulate" on screen, and that is a wonderful thing for me (the black sheep).

I can put in lights, and shadows, and find edges for outlines .. (very handy if you cannot draw). I can sew up a Poser outfit, make it blow in the wind, and change colors with lights, so I am learning (even if it is holding forth from sewing and not real art).

It gives me a sense of learning and achievement, even if I have not really mastered drawing ... I can make beautiful things if I put my mind to it, and I can feel good about the results.

And I have learned more about art than I would have reading another 500 assorted library books -- because it has been experience! And I would not get
to read art books anyway. Symbolism is about as close as I get in an average session of information glut.

So I have to ask, what is your take on tracing?
(There is a tracing function in Painter which is supposed to allow you to develop your artistic eye.) All my childhood line art was from tracing, but that did not teach me (to draw) then; -- I wonder if it would work better now.

David Bohm says .. because we are of LIFE, we can access the deep levels with the mind / brain construct.
Thus we will never be able to make a machine which will be able to replace the living part of life. No reason to fear this idea.

Let us hope that the machines never learn to farm us (like Geiger's images seem to hint).
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2008
You'll find people with different opinions on tracing. For me, it's like having training wheels on a bike. It's great for little kids since it gives them a bit of confidence to know that they can learn to ride a bike, and it gives them a taste of what riding a bike can feel like. But at some point, the training wheels have got to go, and the kid has to actually learn to ride the bike instead of relying on the training wheels.

I think tracing is fine for beginners if they just want some confidence building. But I think it can also be a crutch that can actually harm someone's learning if they depend on it too much. Personally, I would never advise someone to trace. I don't think it helps a person to learn to see. And I think it makes the person focus too much on the lineart and overlook everything else.

Knowing where to put the lines is a huge part of learning to draw. It's far more important than the actual hand-eye coordination, IMO. And when you trace, someone else has already done the hard work for you. Tracing mostly helps hand-eye coordination. And again, that's more helpful for really young artists than older ones, IMO.
WCSallySally Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2008
I am indebted to your clear mindedness on this!

I do indeed have trouble putting the lines correctly, and this is indeed lack of eye-capability! I have not trained them, or my hands, so being capable is not in their preview at this time! I hope to make that better, however! (Thanks again for that journal you wrote!)

Edges / find all --makes all the line art I can use, but then I am doing coloring books, not art.

Well, we shall see, I have to get Painter reinstalled, and hopefully after all these MS updates it will have a better go at things!

Happy Eggnog days!
Men-Jo Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
This was a truly elaborated form of the, "...practice, practice, practice"
Quite a fun read.

Lesson learned: The magic was in me all along.:D
thenumber42 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Student Traditional Artist
I don't think I've ever drawn apples but I've drawn onions :lol: They're quite fascinating.

Wonderful, wonderful journal.
dazza1008 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
:orange: Nice description.
elloi Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
lol i laughed. i responded in your deviation, but well said, mate. wellllll said~
DanHowardArt Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
love the slightly snarky conclusion, but it's all so true :3
ayalpinkus Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What a great description of the process of learning to draw from observation!
Kamiruchan015 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Filmographer
i loved this journal

so true
rowenabrennavart Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
damn, where's the "+fav journal" when you need it? And yes, it takes years to learn how to *think* in a way that you can approach problems and know how to solve them. That happens with Science too: you need to learn how to see a problem, come up with a theory and make it so you can prove if that theory is right or wrong. Different things, but a similar problem...years and years of learning ^-^

Someday I'll know how to draw an apple! :XD:
TheGreatandMightyOz Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I never spent time trying to draw apples.. I always thought they were boring. I started right in with people and animals! Or mostly just animals. :) But this is why I suck at backgrounds and still life now. =P
But yeah, the steps were mostly the same for the animals... I like looking at really old drawings and enjoying how much I've improved. And then remember drawing them and laughing about how great I thought they were back then. :lol:
Jupeboxgal Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008   Digital Artist
I totally just realized how true that is. For several years now I've gone on walks or seen something outside of the car window when there's nothing else to do and I've analyzed the colors and the patterns and the textures and thought "Oh man, that would be SO COOL to draw, if only I had my art supplies with me!" and my parents have just stared at me as though I was crazy. Totally just realized that it's because I've cultivated a new way of looking at the world over the years.

I agree that this should be favorited and shared - do you suppose you could upload it to your gallery as prose? :)

(And make the thumbnail an apple! xD)
Vueiy-Visarelli Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I really loved this entry; you're totally right. It DOES take years to learn how to draw well, and there's always room for improvement. It's really great to look at one's past works, like, say, from when you were 12 and the best drawer in class, and then compare them to the ones you drew the next year and so on and so forth up 'til the present.

And I agree with Caliypsoe: I wish I could :+fav: this, too. ;)
gosai Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional General Artist
i wish i could fave this journal too... it will be shown or paraphrased to several people that want to learn to draw from me, and although ive been telling them these things for months they rarely listen to anything other than "it takes awhile and in steps"
Hae-Hyun Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Student Digital Artist
can you adopt me?
Nirelstock Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thats why I take photos and don't draw. :giggle. No serioulsy, you are right. But even if you are that dedicated I dont think everyone can get as far as your e.g. You also have to feel some passion for it or you will never have those moments.

There are no shortcuts, but you can learn from other people (and their tutorials) like a child you can learn in the way of *seeing - doing*. So I wouldnt say that's totally wrong now.
Caliypsoe Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Artisan Crafter
I wish I could favorite your journal entry. What a wonderful message to send to everyone.:D
Atlas0 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
You really hit everything just right. The last time i drew an Apple (with a banana and orange) the fruit looked like it was rotting... But realisticly :lol:

I wonder if i'd be good at it now, like my brother's is (hanging on the bedroom wall, and looking nice =))....
staticsound Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
*applause* i agree.. great journal =D
snowmask Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist

Even to this day whenever I try out new colour schemes or a combination of new mediums and whatnot, I ALWAYS test it on an apple. ALWAYS.

LOVE apples.
XerxesXXIV Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
this is how a journal should be written! IMO, dude, this could pass off as an artwork...:D

yep, it's true that hard work and perseverance bring glorious rewards... but even though i know all about that, my drive to draw seems incomplete. I love making art and I want to be better. It's just that I have no one to dedicate it to or something. I guess what I'm saying is, it's not only the artist's own willpower that's important. It's also important to have someone giving you support and help you exceed your limits. No man is an island, right? :D
calger459 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Filmographer
*applauds* So beautifully put, and so very very true! It's why I cringe if I'm ever asked, "Can you teach me to draw?" - and since I taught art full time K-8 for two years, I got asked this A LOT. It's not that that I'm unwilling or unable to teach drawing skills, it's that so much of the time and effort has to come from the student, rather than the teacher (or tutorial). Those Eureka moments are unique to everyone, and comes at a different time for everyone, but try explaining that to your frustrated art student! Or your mom ^^;;

Heh you know reading this made me miss your fics lots. Not that I'm one to talk, I haven't written fic in ages now :P All focused on the art these days.
Almeruve Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
That's all very true! Great journal :)
Kibikayuki Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
Very, very true....

Some people nowadays just want things yesterday and in the easiest way possible. But you know what they say... Nothing good came the easy way, it takes a hell of a lot of work to get it.

It's taken me up til this point to finally get a basic understand on drawing and the proportion. I'm still working at it.
shadowwaker Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
You just made me hungry for apples. ._.;;; Tasty, sweet apples... (That are green near the stem! XD)
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
Mmmm! ^_^
shadowwaker Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
It was very tasty. :3 (It was yellow and red though, with matte green near the stem.)
Cersiana Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
I've done this before... Went to draw something and take that -D'oh- Moment to realize.. hey this would be twice as good if only I'd take the time to -fill in the blank-. Yeh, I've gone a lot of that as of late, and I've tried to work at it more and more and sometimes it does just get ARGH but... Sometimes, it's worth it =3
hakubaikou Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
Yeah! I love those *d'oh* moments. They're such a good feeling. :)
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Submitted on
October 11, 2008