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Are your secret thoughts positive? Do you say, “I can’t draw?”

Comic Book Drawing. Are your secret thought positive?

The class I taught last year was listed in the school syllabus as “Drawing Heroes and Villains, Pigs and Wolves. Illustrating Comic Books 4th and 5th grade.”  I co- taught  the class with Jessica Whitmore.  She taught “Heroes, Villains and Conflict: Comic Book Writing”.  She taught writing, I taught drawing.

The  first item on my lesson plan for the first day of class was to teach the students how to use a knife, fork and spoon. I brought the utensils to class, and made a rough sketch of the concept to prompt me when I taught the lesson.

“Today we are going to learn how to use a knife, fork and spoon.” I held up the knife, fork and spoon .

“Does everyone know how to use these?”

“How often do you use them?”

“How many years have you been eating?”

“How many times a day would you use them?”

“Would you say you are skilled at eating?

“Can you use a spoon efficiently without spilling your cereal in the morning?”

“Would you feel comfortable saying, “I can eat?”

Then I held up a common yellow Dixon Ticonderoga 2HB pencil. and asked, “How often do you use this? Would you say, I can draw?”

One boy immediately stood up and proclaimed to the class, “I can’t draw.”

I wanted to freeze time, and have that moment in space and memory stop. I wanted to take a giant erasure and erase his comment in his speech bubble in the illustrated  comic book of his life.

I would take a black felt pen and ink with permanent  ink,  I can draw.

He was in my class last year. I thought there might have been other students who thought like him. Students who had been told they couldn’t draw. Students who believed that the person sitting next to them was better at drawing then they were. The silverware lesson was written for them.

Marcus Aurelius, the 16th century Roman Emperor wrote in his book, Meditations:
Our life is what our thoughts make it.

I want my students to have a life where they think, “I can do that.”  I want their secret thoughts to be positive.

I asked  the students to shout , ” I can draw!”

I can draw!

Writers write, drawers draw, eaters eat, painters paint, runners run.

Then I taught them how to draw an egg.

Actually, I didn’t teach them how to draw the egg, I taught them how to look at it.

I teach them how to see.

I want them to see that they are  good. And what they draw is good. The drawing in front of them is the drawing that has value. Their drawing has to look like what is in their brain. It doesn’t have to look like the egg or the drawing of the teacher’s egg, or their friends drawing of an egg.

It is their egg. And it is good.

Tomorrow I will show you how to look at an egg.

Are your secret thoughts positive? Do you say, “I can’t draw?”

Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • I always believe I cannot draw human faces and expressions. But reading this is giving me a push to try again. But where should i start?

  • Sajid Reza Karim

    i think some people just can’t draw what they want to.

    • Hello Sajid,
      I wonder if it because they need more practice. Drawing is learning to see. And seeing takes time and patience. Patience to discover your own way of seeing and making marks on the paper.

  • I want to learn how to draw an egg, or anything at all! I don’t secretly, or inwardly say that I can’t draw, I just don’t draw. Except to illustrate traffic patterns and near accidents.

    • Kathleen,
      I wonder if finding time to draw is the same as trying to find time to walk? We find time for stuff we really want to do.I still haven’t walked today. Now where is the lease and the dog?
      “Martha! where are you?”

  • Teresa Richardson

    Remember those art tests they used to send out – draw this mouse, man, bulldog and send it to us and we will tell you if you are accepted in out art school. I spent weeks drawing the bulldog, and when I was finished, I was very proud ’cause it did look almost exactly like the illustration. I never sent it in, but knowing I could has stuck with me. My drawings may not be the fanciest, but I CAN DRAW!
    I have been working on drawing faces; I take a pic from a magazine or a copy of someone else’s drawing and I will try to draw them. I am having such fun doing it. I also signed up for Carla Sonheim’s Draw class. My work schedule has changed 3 times since I signed up for the class so I have not started it yet, but I have promised myself that I will start doing the lessons before the end of the year

    • Teresa,
      You can draw. You will draw. You are drawing. Your drawings are yours, you don’t have to copy, you will find your voice in drawing, like a writer finds their voice in their words.
      Bravo for being brave!

  • Brianna Wasson

    I can’t wait to learn how to look at an egg. Also, this . . . “The drawing in front of them is the drawing that has value. Their drawing has to look like what is in their brain.” It challenges the way I think about how I draw, Pamela. Because I am one who would have stood up with that little boy. Thanks for this.

    • Hello Brianna,
      You are very welcome. Your egg will look like your egg. It doesn’t have to look like my egg or your friends egg.
      It will look like you.

  • This is wonderful, Pamela! My children have all said this at some time in their lives. Especially the younger ones who compare themselves to their older siblings. I praise and encourage them that they are all good artists. The more they practice the better they get. 🙂

    • Hello Anastacia,
      The old comparison game. Nobody wins.
      Yes, the more you practice, the more your egg looks like what you imagine in your head. I don’t know what it means, “to get better,” at drawing, because what is ‘Better?”

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  • I love this! I just wrote this in my notebook. I share with kids that their first step is believing in themselves. Great illustration. And yes, you do teach them to see – to see the possibilities.

    • Thank you Mary Helen. Yes, it is important to teach children to believe in themselves.

  • Thank you for taking me through your lesson. The quote expressed your intent well. “I wanted their secret thoughts to be positive.” An inspiring notion for us all.

  • My heart is with that little boy who has been taught that he can’t draw. I used to draw all the time as a kid, but hated art class because I always felt inferior there. I love the way you used pictures in this post. Erasing his “I can’t” statement was powerful to read, but so much more fabulous to see!

    I love-love-love the class set that you and Jessica are teaching! I would love to be taking both of your classes right now. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels but … dare I say it … I can’t draw. No, that’s not true, but I do still hear the old voices whenever I think of trying my hand at illustrating a story.

    Hmm … do I feel a little inspiration coming on?

    • I would love to have you take the class. Isn’t it interesting how the perceptions of ourselves we developed as children follow us all through life? I think as adults it is good to go back and say to the little kid in our head, “Hey wait a minute.” I have always been afraid of deep water. I can swim just fine when I can stand up in the pool. I am working on getting over the fear, so that I can say, “I can swim. I am not afraid.” Wondering what you will do with a pencil 🙂

  • Paul

    I’ve spent much time wrestling with crippling “can’t”s. The most difficult ones are those that are invisible, where the “can’t” has slid into your being and doing in ways you don’t even recognize. At 39 years of age, I still fumble with the permanent markers sometimes.

    Wonderful slice, as always. You are teaching me how to see daily.

    • I think writing helps us to see what we have hidden inside us. To find the invisible “can’t” and rewrite them as “will”. I will gladly lend you an erasure to erase your can’ts. Or maybe you need to slay they with your poetry.

  • I would like to be in your class. What a great description of a wonderful lesson. My favorite part was when you erased “I can’t draw” written in pencil and added “I can draw” with the black permanent marker. I just know you made that student feel that positive, too.

  • Lessons for life you are teaching. I love the “I taught them how to look at it. I teach them how to see.” P O W E R F U L!! Same goes for writing, you have to see the world to think there is something to write about. Your words hit home on so many fronts. I am so glad you are writing this month, please continue through the year.

  • Your knive, fork and spoon visual really hit me that day in class – so much so that I honestly, can’t even remember who said “I can’t draw.” It has been such a joy to watch the creativity of the kids in our classes and to teach with you my friend!

    • Visuals help me to remember concepts. I hope the kids remember this one. I enjoy co-teaching with you as well!!

  • mcrooker

    What a great life lesson! A neat way to approach almost any subject!