Drawing Phobia : Why I have it and how it has affected me

A to Z Blogging Challenge


Or in a more general form art phobia. I have this problem. I dont mean I am scared of art, but at the thought that I have to be involved in art, my brain just shuts down. Even in this era when computers and multimedia can encourage even people who have no ‘natural talent’ for drawing to engage in some kind of artistic work, I simply cannot do anything.

I think this terror of art was built in childhood. I dont have any natural talent for drawing and my first efforts in drawing and coloring were probably most untidy. I remember being told in no uncertain words, that they were no good. I dont seek praise for work which is clearly not great, but perhaps the harsh negative judgment could have been tempered a bit. I mean I must have been a child of five or six.

Those judgments have ensured that I never warmed to art at all. In school, on the days when we had drawing classes I always prayed that I would fall sick and would not have to go. I may even have pretended to be sick ocassionally.

I remember, while doing one of my post graduate courses, we were discussing about different pedagogies to train social workers and one of the class participants remarked that using different media like art would liberate trainees. My first response was art as a subject can be as scary to a person as maths and science. It is not the subject itself which constrains or creates fear but the negative experiences which a person has had with the subject. I was lucky that in no other subject did I develop such a negative feeling about myself. Although naturally Ihave liked certain subjects more than others, I never detested any of the ‘mainstream subjects’. In a way, I was lucky that my phobia was towards an additional subject like art, and I could go through school constantly getting a D in drawing without it really affecting my other grades. I probably lost a few marks for untidy practical records. Yeah, my biology grades did suffer a bit, but my natural liking for the subject compensated for my absolute inability to draw a diagram.

Many others may not be so lucky. They may develop fears for more mainstream subjects, for maths, for writing, for languages. And their school lives will be forever marred by those fears. 

I dont mean to say negative judgments should never be passed against children. Children need to learn to deal with negative judgments just like they need to deal with so many other challenges in their lives. But tempering the judgment with an appreciation for effort, with honest feedback on scope for improvement and most important of all, not making comparisons with other people’s work, isn’t it possible to achieve this.

I may probably have been bad at art any which ways. I don’t say the world has lost a Picasso, because I lost interest in the subject. But I know my school days would have been happier. And I lost whatever satisfaction I could have drawn from my art, however bad it would have been.

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3 thoughts on “Drawing Phobia : Why I have it and how it has affected me

  1. josna says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Divya, and identified with it too. I too always felt that I wasn’t any good at art, didn’t do well in it at school, and therefore shut myself off or was shut of from it. It probably didn’t help that my father is an accomplished painter. I did try taking a couple of art classes at university, but did badly in them. I think there is that idea out there that “artists” are these special people born with a mysterious talent and then there are the rest of us. But I think that most of us can cultivate our artistic skills, even if we might never become Picassos. I would love to set that side of myself free, regardless of the merit of the product, and try to do some charcoal, pastels, and pen-and-ink sketches for pure enjoyment. Why not?

    • divyasarma says:

      I agree. I think we all have a right to engage in whatever art form we choose without having to wonder about whether we have the mysterious inner talent. After all art is for our enjoyment. My husband frequently encourages me to do some art, and if I am too self conscious, I dont even need to show it to people, but I still haven’t worked up the confidence to try it.

  2. […] myself and I was really reallly bad in drawing or any craft work. I have written earlier about how I practically had a drawing phobia. Same with sports. My eye hand co ordination sucked. I could never hit a ball with everything. In […]

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