When I was 7 I wanted to grow up to be an artist. I quickly decided that wasn’t possible because I couldn’t draw. I sure could draw the rat on the cover of Ralph S. Mouse (this one), and I drew Ralph over and over, but to think of something and just draw it, that wasn’t something my mind could do. So my 7 year old self saw Art as a profession that would never be reachable.
In a college painting class we were painting a live model. She had a bit of extra skin under her chin, and my professor came over and ‘fixed’ where I had painted it, noting that in professional portraiture we should make the client look as polished as possible. I don’t know that I agree with that mentality, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have ever been able to fathom what the model would have looked like devoid of that bit of skin. I could paint what was before me quite skillfully, but to consider a differentiation from what was before me wasn’t possible.
Sometimes I burn images of forest creatures into wood. I begin with a light trace of the animal from a printed photo, noting where the shadows should be. They come out well, but I often feel like I’m cheating in the process.