Today a student of mine was really struggling with school and life. He came to the art studio looking to get away from things and I asked him to draw a picture of the current still-life at the front of the room. He decided to give it a shot. About fifteen minutes later, he was frustrated, hated the drawing, and stood holding it over the garbage can. I told him he was giving up too soon and that he needed to keep on working. I could tell he didn't want to bother with it any more, but he consented and returned to his drawing board. At the end of class, he came up to me with a big smile, holding the drawing proudly. With a little more time and effort, he was able to create a wonderful drawing. I pointed out that it was a good thing he didn't quit earlier. He nodded agreement.
Too often, we get frustrated and want to quit when things don't go our way, but if there is one lesson I hope my students can get from the visual arts, it will be to not give up. In so many ways, drawing is the process of working through mistakes. It takes persistence to succeed at drawing, painting, and life.