I have been really enjoying the chance to draw filthy pictures, with the excuse that I need them for blog-post illustrations. While I have been far from satisfied with all of the results so far, I have been pleasantly surprised at how they have been turning out. If that sounds like a contradiction to you, then you clearly have not spent much time drawing. The process of learning to draw does not, at any stage, contain a drastic improvement. The progression from a smiling sun drawn in crayon to a Hanz Holbein portrait is a straight line, pure and simple. Every time you try to draw something, you learn a couple of tiny things about how to reproduce what you see in your minds eye with your hand, and how to reproduce what exists in reality, or what would exist, in your minds eye, accurately and expressively. The greatest myth about drawing, is that anybody can’t do it.
Because an artist is constantly improving, because there is no upper limit to the possible skill, and because part of the way in which you improve is by getting better at seeing the shortcomings of your own illustrations, every picture is in some ways a disappointment. The trick is to practise often enough, and remain stubborn enough, that you can see enough improvement to offset the constant shortfalls in your own work, and to concentrate hard enough on the tiny points of perfection which come through, on the occasional line which is just right, on the single place in the picture where the shadows are falling where you want them to, without allowing yourself to block out the ways in which you still need to improve. In this way, I think the thing I can most closely the process to is the learning of a musical instrument.
What I mean to say, is that there is no such thing as a born artist. Yes, of course some people are advantaged, and others are disadvantaged, but there is no gift which I can think of which cannot be surpassed by dedication, and there is no shortfall (save a physical inability to make the marks on the page with precision, or to see clearly enough) which cannot be overcome with practise. If you want to become a great artist, the thing you most need to do is harden yourself against the disappointment that comes with every imperfect reproduction, and repeat your own mistakes often enough that you can avoid them in your sleep. The difficulty with erotic art, as I have found (apart from the need for an excellent knowledge of anatomy, which is part of the skill of reproducing what would exist in reality in your mind’s eye) is that the revulsion caused by an ill-drawn piece is so much stronger, and the disappointment caused by the failure to create beauty is so much more acute.
So, if you want brilliant erotic artists, go and find those brave enough to put drawings which aren’t very good yet up online – look at them, and find the points of beauty in each of the pictures, because they are the seeds of improvement. Yes, the arse cheeks may be disturbingly different in size and orientation, yes, the eyes may look crossed, but the important parts, the bits which will grow into a consummate skill, are the bits which have gone right. Find them, compliment them (accurately, not easily), and watch the seeds take root. Don’t, whatever you do, save your praise for only those artists who have already achieved greatness, because they are far less in need of it.
I don’t make these comments in reference to myself – despite the many ways in which my drawings still need improvement, I have received a very great deal of praise and support, and it is more than enough to keep me going. Out there on the net, however, are the next crop of erotic illustrators and artists. They are growing as hard and as fast as they can, and they need all the watering they can get.