When was the last time you picked up a pencil and used it to draw something?
For many young people, it may have been awhile. Art is often encouraged in young children. I can’t honestly think of a time where I was in a restaurant as a child and wasn’t offered colouring sheets and crayons. Every year in elementary school I had art class, and my classmates and I had the opportunity to work with a variety of media.
No matter the quality of my work, my parents smiled at every scribbly little sketch I put out, pinning the “best ones” to the fridge. None of them were great. They wouldn’t hold up in the Louvre, but my parents encouraged me to draw and paint anyways.
Flash forward a few years and everything changes. The wait staff in the restaurant doesn’t ask if I want crayons anymore. I don’t have art class anymore. It’s difficult to understand at first, because art has always been such a big part of my life. From preschool to eighth grade, there was always art. I got into grade nine, and looked at my school supply list– where are the coloured markers? The pencil crayons, the pastels, the construction paper?
For many of us, art is put aside in favour of other hobbies and skills. That’s alright. Not everyone likes making art, be it drawing, painting, sculpting, or something else. The issue is that even some people who enjoy it, stop doing it because it’s not a “worthwhile” hobby if you lack skill.
When asked why they don’t draw, many of my friends shrug and say simply, “I’m no good at it.” The answer makes me sad sometimes. Not because I think my friends are secretly the next Michelangelos, but because I know many of them enjoy it. It’s unfair to rob oneself of a well-loved activity simply for lack of skill.
Of course, anyone’s art can be improved upon. However, I’m not writing this to tell people to take an art class. I’m writing it because your talent does not matter. To enjoy art, one simply has to sit down and make it. You can scribble in an app on your phone, on the back of receipts with a pen, smudge paint on a canvas or on an old pair of jeans. When I think about it, if I stopped doing things because I wasn’t really, really good at them, I honestly don’t think I’d do much of anything.
It’s too bad that society undervalues art. Right now maybe I’m talking specifically about traditional, physical arts like painting and drawing, but in reality the other arts are shunted too. Yes, of course science and technology are important. But so is art. What do we know of ancient cultures? When we think of ancient Greece, we think of their statues, their frescoes, their plays, their architecture. People have been smudging colours into pictures since the Stone Age. If can draw a stick man, you can make art that’s just as good as most cave early painters, and they certainly have a lot of their art in museums.
What matters is the joy it brings. Art is about joy. So just pretend you’re a kid waiting for your food in a restaurant. Find some crayons, and GO!
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.