Her second confidence measuring statement is this one: “There is a right way and a wrong way to draw.” Her use of this statement is so inspired that were Ms. Brookes not already gainfully employed teaching art, it’s obvious that her second calling would be psychotherapy. The statement is both true and false in a most deliciously complex way. And everyone who picks up the pencil could well use this Silenus question as their daily meditation.
But we’ll look at the Hollywood version, cutting quickly to the chase: if there is not a right way, then obviously there’s nothing to learn, nothing to learn from Mona Brookes, nothing to learn from Leonardo da Vinci either.
If there is a right way, with emphasis on “a,” one and only right way (not even a left way), then drawing is a dead-end. It’s all been done by now and what are we bothering about? Go play golf instead — but be advised that skill in golf is hereditary ….
Lots of artists console themselves with the mantra that there’s no right or wrong in art, and that intoxicating thought can lead to great wisdom for sure, but for most drinkers it leads merely to a wreck. You have to be willing to embrace the idea of art having a standard (even if no one quite knows what it is) if you intend to make high art. And high art, while it’s a lousy job, is one that “somebody has to do.”
Where would we be today if Raphael had been a slouch? What if your dentist said, “Oh, good enough.” Why should your dentist have higher standards than you there holding the pencil?
The statement Mona Brookes raises should inspire the reluctant artist to get off his duff. Things are tough all over. Suck it in. Get down and give me fifty.
Is there a right way and a wrong way? You’re damned straight there is. But no one is quite sure what it is. We say “we know it when we see it.” You there, go and find it.