I live about a twenty-minute walk from the Pompidou Center in Paris, and for a few years now I've been a member—meaning I can go in for free all year long! One of my Sunday pleasures is to stroll through the Marais on my way to the Pompidou, sit at the cafe inside it reading or writing for a while, then spend some time looking at the permanent collection or whichever temporary exhibits are up on that day.
Recently I attended a retrospective of Alberto Giacometti, the great Swiss sculptor famous above all for his very elongated figures. As it happens, some time ago—I think about three years—there was another Giacometti show at the Pompidou, focusing on his drawings and sketches. The show included some very expressive portraits that Giacometti had drawn with cheapo ballpoint pens, those same pens that you and I use to jot down a shopping list or write a check. Looking at the sketches I had though, "I wish I could do this too." And the thought was wistful, tinged with envy and perhaps even a touch of bitterness. The day after I saw the show I bought myself a dozen ballpoint pens (red, blue, black, and green) and a notebook, and I put them all away in a hidden corner of my workspace.
I wasn't ready.
But when the time finally came for me to start drawing, one of the things that got me going was the memory of Giacometti's ballpoint sketches, and the wistful yearning they had triggered. So you can imagine how happy I was to go visit a new Giacometti show, notebook and pencil in hand. This time I was “doing,” instead of “wishing I could do it.” Two very different attitudes, one sad, one happy; one envious, one celebratory; one handicapping, the other enabling. It doesn't matter if I can't begin to draw as well as the great masters; what really matters is that I'm not afraid of drawing anymore; I'm not envious, I'm not jealous, I'm not self-defeating!
Needless to say, I could have been drawing all my life. There wasn't a single GOOD reason for me not to draw, only a misconception I had created about myself and my capabilities or lack thereof.
Drawing is a wonderful thing. But dispelling a burdesome misconception about yourself is even more wonderful.