I'm not much of a draw-from-my-imagination kind of person. As an illustrator it's ironic and rather problematic. Because it means when I don't have a freelance project to work on for someone else, I tend not to draw very much for myself. Because...expectations.
You see, my love and connection to drawing comes from an enjoyment of rendering what I see---not what I imagine. I need tangible images to inspire me, I need references to see what things look like before I can render them. I don't draw well from my mind, and even less so when I don't have a story to prompt me. And even when I do, I can get started with quick thumbnails and rough ideas but beyond that it's tough going until I conduct my research. If you asked me to draw a dog from my head, it would be...bad. So bad that you would know never to request a drawing on demand again. Because...embarrassing.
Drawing from my imagination has never been a satisfying endeavor, because my memory skills generally underserve whatever mental ambition I may attempt on paper. I can look at something and draw it, I can get an idea for something and collect references and then draw it, but I can't draw from nothing.
So, that leads me to the point of today's post.
Sometimes I just want to draw. Sometimes I just want to practice. Sometimes I'm certain I learn more about myself by studying other people's work. Interpreting existing illustrations/art allows me to practice and build muscle memory without the pressure of creating original content. It's free of expectations.
I firmly believe that as long as I keep putting pencil to paper I will continue to learn. I'm not embarrassed to be seen trying. Practice doesn't make perfect---there is no such thing. But at least it makes something.