Articles

Why people believe they can’t draw – and how to prove they can | Graham Shaw | TEDxHull

October 2, 2019


Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Mile Živković Hi. I’ve got a question for you: how many people here
would say they can draw? (Laughter) I think we’ve got about one or two percent
of the hands going up, and it’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s a little bit like people think
of spelling or singing. They think,”You can either
do it, or you can’t.” But I think you can. Because when people say they can’t draw, I think it’s more to do with beliefs
rather than talent and ability. So I think when you say you can’t draw,
that’s just an illusion, and today I’d like to prove that to you. When I say “draw”, I’m not saying we’re all going
to draw like Michelangelo. We are not going to be painting
the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. But would you be happy if,
by the end of this session, you could draw pictures
a little bit like this? (Audience murmuring) Oh, yes! (Laughter) Or even a little bit like this? (Laughter) Actually, there are only two things
you need to do to be able to achieve this. One is have an open mind.
Are you up for that? (Audience) Yes! And two, just be prepared to have a go. So grab a pen and a piece of paper. OK, so here’s how it’s going to work: I’ll show you the first cartoon
we’re going to do, so just watch to begin with. Here we go. Just watching. That’s going to be our first cartoon. It’s a character called Spike. I’d like you to draw along with me. I’ll draw the first line, you draw,
and when you’ve done that, look up, and I’ll know you’re ready
for the next line. Okay, here we go. Start with the nose. Now the eyes. They’re like 66s or speech marks. That’s it. Next, the mouth. Nice, big smile. Now, over here, the ear. Next, some spiky hair. Next, put the pen to the left
to the mouth, little line like that. Pen under the ear, drop a line like that. Pen to the left of the neck,
top of the T-shirt. Line to the left, line to the right. Just hold your drawings up
and show everyone. (Laughter) How are we all doing? (Laughter) OK. OK, fantastic. So, it looks like you’ve just learned
to draw one cartoon, but you’ve actually learned
more than that; you’ve learned a sequence
that would enable you to draw hundreds and thousands
of different cartoons, because we’re just going to do
little variations on that sequence. Have a go at this. Draw along with me. Nose. Eyes. Smile. That’s it. Now some hair. Pen to the left of the mouth, under the hair, little V-shape for the top, line to the left, line to the right. So we’ve got another character.
Let’s call her Thelma. (Laughter) So, we’ve got Spike and Thelma. Let’s try another one. Here we go. Another little variation.
You’re getting the idea. Starting with the nose. But this time we’ll change
the eyes slightly. Look, two circles together like that. That’s it. Then, two little dots in for the eyes. And this time we’ll change
the mouth slightly. Watch. Little circle colored in there. Have a go at that. Next, the ear. Now, we’ll have some fun
with the hair, watch. Nice curly hair. Then same thing: pen to the left
to the mouth, little line like that. Under the ear, drop a line. Top of the T-shirt. Line to the left, line to the right. I think we’ll call him Jeff. (Laughter) We’ll do one more. One more go. Here we go. You’re getting the idea. (Laughter) So we’ll start with a nose again. Notice we’re doing little variations. Now we’ll change the eyes,
so we’ve got them apart. We’ll put some little dots in like that. Next, the mouth slightly different. Let’s put a little V-shape like that. Triangle. And a little line across,
and we’ll just color this a little bit in. Now, watch this bit carefully;
some hair, watch. Here we go, little line like that. Next, a bit more there. And watch, a couple of triangles
to make a little bow. Triangle at the bottom, rest of the hair. Pen to the left of the mouth again.
You get the idea. Drop a line for the neck. Now the V-shape. Line to the left, line to the right. There we go. Let’s call her Pam. (Laughter) So you’ve done… (Laughter) So you’ve done four cartoons.
You can have a little rest now. (Laughter) Take a rest. You’re getting the idea.
All we’re doing is little variations. I’ll just demonstrate a couple to you. We could go on all day, couldn’t we? You could do someone
looking unhappy, a bit like that, or you could experiment with,
perhaps, someone who is… just draw a straight line,
someone looking a bit fed up. Or perhaps, you could do anything
you like, really, just try things out. Look at this. Little squiggle.
There we are. So, all sorts of things we could do. Actually, one more I’ll let you do,
one more idea. This is a great little technique. Have a go at this: people with glasses on. Just draw a nose a bit like Spike’s. Next, draw some frames, so two circles like that
with a little bit in between. Now, just put some dots
inside for the eyes like that. Next, the ear. So it’s little bit like we did before,
but this time we’ll join up the frames. That’s it. Watch this bit. (Laughter) And this bit I really like. Watch. (Laughter) And then, little bit there. Pencil under the mustache, line down, top of the shirt, left and right. So there we have it.
We could carry on, couldn’t we? Hopefully, we’ve done enough
to convince you that in fact we can all draw. And not just people here.
I’ve worked with… I’m going to give you three examples
of other people who’ve learned to draw, and that actually surprised them, too. I’m going to save
what I think is my favorite, most surprising example until last. The first example is: I’ve worked a lot with children
and students in schools. Actually the little ones,
they just draw fine, but when they get to about 15 or 16,
most of them think they can’t draw. But I worked with them. I worked this week in a school where I was coaching them
on using pictures for memory. A girl was trying to remember
what red blood cells do, and she drew this little picture of a red blood cell
carrying a handbag with O2 on it to remind her that the red blood cells
carry oxygen to all parts of the body. That was a great one. The other people I worked with
are many adults in all walks of life, and particularly in business, and they often will want
to make presentations memorable. So again, a quick cartoon or sketch
could be really good for that. And again, most people think
they can’t draw, but take this example. Couple of wavy lines, little boat could be a metaphor
to represent we’re all in this together. So that, if that was just drawn
in the presentation, would really stay
in the memory, wouldn’t it? Yeah. But the third example is –
you shouldn’t have favorites, should you? This is my favorite. Have you ever been at the party
when someone asks you what you do? It gets a little bit skeptical
when people ask me that. This lady said to me, well – I said, “I do a little bit of training,
and I teach people to draw,” and she said, “Would you come along
and do some for our group?” She said, “I work with some people”
– she was a volunteer – a group of people
who have suffered strokes. So I said, “Sure, I could spare
some time for that.” So I said I would,
and I booked the time in. Have you ever done that? You get near of that time and you think,
“What have I let myself in for here?” “Will I be able to do it?” I thought, “What could I
do with them?” you see. “I know. I’ll do my cartoon drawing.
They’ll like that.” But then, as I got near of the time,
I got more apprehensive, because then I was thinking, “I’ve worked with children,
with all sorts of adults; I’ve never worked with a group like this.” It turns out it was all part
of a charity called TALK. This TALK charity is a wonderful charity
that helps people who’ve suffered strokes, but have a particular condition
known as aphasia. You might have heard of aphasia,
sometimes called dysphasia. The key thing is it affects
their ability to communicate. So, for example, they might have trouble reading, writing, speaking,
or understanding. It can be quite an isolating condition; it can be very, very frustrating
and can lead to a loss of confidence. Anyway, so I prepared all this stuff,
what to do for this session – for a couple of hours,
tea break in the middle – and I got more apprehensive. But actually, I needn’t have worried, because I’m going to show you now
the work that they did. It was one of the best things
I’ve ever done. I’m going to show you the first slide. I taught them Spike,
just like I did for you, and I want you to see the reaction
on their faces when they did this. (Audience) Oh. What you can see here
are two of the stroke recoverers on the left and right, and one of the volunteer
helpers in the center. Each stroke recoverer, there are about 36
in the room with volunteers as well, there’s one-to-one helpers. You can just see the delight
on their faces, can’t you? Let’s look at another picture. This is a gentleman called David,
and he’s holding up his picture, and you can tell it was the picture
of Spike, can’t you? In fact, I think he’s drawn Spike
even better there. But what I didn’t realize
until even after the session was that the number of the people
in this session, including David, were drawing with their wrong hand. David’s stroke meant that it affected
the right side of his body, and he drew with his left hand,
as many did. Nobody mentioned it to me,
nobody complained. They just got on with it. It was an inspirational session for me. It was quite a humbling session, one of the best things
I felt I’ve ever done. At the end of it, I had a lovely email
from doctor Mike Jordan, and he’s the chair of the TALK group; happens to be a medical doctor,
but he’s the chair of the group. He wrote to me, and I’m quoting, he said, “Our recoverers learned today
that they can draw. It’s a bit more than that; this sort of activity
really builds their confidence.” So I was happy, he was happy,
everyone was happy, they’ve invited me back again, and I go in there now
about every three or four months. So it’s great. I thought
that was a lovely example to share. Fancy one more drawing? (Audience) Yes. Here we go. Grab your pens. Here we go. Right. I’m going to get you to draw someone
that you would recognize. So start with a big nose,
a bit like Spike’s. Next, we’ll do some eyes,
and you might be thinking, “This is also a bit like Spike.” Watch the next bit. You’re getting warm. There you go. Little line down there. Down here. Little V-shape,
line to the left, line to the right. And you’ve got Albert Einstein. (Laughter) So you’ve got the pens with you, you’ve proved that you can draw. You’re very welcome
to take the pens with you and have a practice at home, even show somebody else. But actually, I’d like to leave you
with a final thought. When you walked in here today, many of you didn’t believe
you could draw. I’ve got a question for you about that. How many other beliefs
and limiting thoughts do we all carry around with us every day? Beliefs that we could perhaps
potentially challenge and think differently about. If we did challenge those beliefs
and think differently about them, apart from drawing, what else
would be possible for us all? Thank you very much. (Applause)

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