‘I can’t draw’, or ‘I wish I could draw’, are statements that I’ve heard often enough when the subject of art comes up in conversation.
In response I would ask, ‘When was the last time you drew something?’ The answer is often something like, ‘When I was twelve’.
It is true that the creative pathways in the brain will vary between individuals. Some people are super wired to their creativity, and some need help getting hot-wired to get it going.
Why did you stop drawing?
It is common that the work we create in childhood, receiving high praise, is then cast off as unnecessary and frivolous by well-intentioned loved ones, as we stumble toward adulthood.
Hearing people say ‘why bother’ or ‘you’re never going to make money from it’ are common themes young teenagers will hear when they are seen doodling between classes.
It comes as little surprise that people give up on their harmless doodling at such a young age, and eventually forget that they ever had an artistic streak.
Drawing is fun!
Dear reader, let me just say, whether drawing is a career goal or a relaxing pastime there’s no reason to have ever stopped.
And I have two very good reasons for you to start again:
- Because you want to draw
- Because it brings you happiness
Not your regular learn to draw class!
Introducing The Daily Drawing Project – a series of exercises that will help hot-wire you into becoming an habitual illustrator.
This project is not your usual learn to draw guide, and I have a very good reason for this. I want you to get back to where you last left off when you were twelve. A bit like opening a bookmarked novel that you haven’t finished reading.
As such, this project does not get bogged down in technical ‘how to draw’ steps. By following the suggestions in this project, you’re allowed to draw what you see without worrying about imperfections.
Just 10 minutes a day is all that’s needed – Let’s get started!
Time to make daily drawing a habit. The first step is to create a daily drawing journal that will document your drawing progress over the next few weeks and months.
At the end of this post I’ll link to bonus exercises that will help finesse your drawing skills as The Daily Drawing Project progresses.
Learn to Draw – Daily Drawing Journal
You will need:
- A5 visual art diary
- Marker or pen of choice
- 10 minutes of your day
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1/ Gather your drawing book and pens, storing in an easy to reach spot. You could carry it around in your everyday use tote bag (Me? I’m using a large pencil case). Or it could be kept in that spot next to your keys, or your bedside table with all your other favourite things.
2/ Alright! So you’ve got yourself a drawing book. You’ve got your pens out. So now what! You begin by coming up with ideas of what you want to draw. Keep it simple, by drawing objects that you see around you.
I’ve got for you a starter pack of ideas.
3/ To aid in creating a consistent habitual drawing pattern you can select a specific time window in your day to do your drawing. This is not a hard fast rule, but if you are beginning a whole new habit it’ll make it easier getting yourself going in the first three weeks if you’ve got a set time window to draw.
4/ Now do your daily drawing. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? – that you just start drawing, like that (picture me snapping my fingers).
Starting a new habit is easy, day one, day two, maybe day three. But staying on track and doing a drawing a day consistently for three weeks can be difficult. Most especially if your goal is to do 365 drawings in 365 days.
An effective way to achieve a long-term goal is to set yourself closer targets:
– After each daily drawing tell yourself that the next target is tomorrow, then the day after. Do this for seven days, and before you know it you’ve got a week’s worth of drawings in your little journal.
– Next, set yourself a new target, drawing for three consecutive days. Then four days of drawing. You will then have been keeping your drawing journal for two weeks.
– The next target will be seven days of daily drawings. At the end of this roll out you will have been drawing in your journal for three whole weeks. Three weeks is the perfect number, because that is how long it takes to cement a new habit.
– Afterwards you can continue to push out your targets to one month, three months, six months, and finally 365 days.
Tip: Do not fret if you should miss a day. Because, guess what! It’s going to happen. You’ll be tired, you’ll be sick, there will be other things on your mind that’ll take precedence. Life is going to happen. If you miss a day, just know that you can get back onto that drawing horse the next day. If you are really quite determined to draw exactly 365 images in 365 days, you can do two drawings in one day, to make up for the lost day.
5/ With each drawing I want you to write three things:
- Your signature/initials
- The date of drawing
- Title of drawing
6/ There are two goals to this activity. The first is consistency, which we’ve already covered. The second, is to have fun. I mean really have fun. Creating art is a combination of work, rest and play. But if you’re placing too much pressure on yourself, you’re not going to enjoy what yourself.
It is easy to get caught up in the idea of perfection, especially if you’re sitting there, staring at a blank page, comparing yourself to other artists (who’ve been drawing daily for decades).
Getting into your drawing zone, put aside your tablet/phone, because the minute you start checking social media to see what your favourite artists are doing, your inner critique is going to wake up and start bad mouthing you. And you really do not need to hear that.
Remember, this drawing journal is about you, and for you. It is not a competition, and you are not doing this to prove anything. Think of your drawing journal as a simple documentation of the things that catch your eye.
7/ “But I still can’t draw”, is the thing I just know you’re going to say. And, I’m here to say that, yes, you can, you just don’t know where to start. The best step forward is to:
– Keep it simple. Instead of drawing an entire room, choose one thing in that room to draw (ie. your foot). Go back to the list in step 2 to get ideas.
– Stare at the object and look for the lines that you can see in your mind.
– Put pen to paper and begin drawing those lines. Start anywhere, and don’t think about the imperfections. I have purposely not included a pencil and eraser in the materials list, so that you are not caught up in trying to perfect your picture.
– And remember, to not spend any more than ten minutes working on your drawing.
8/ If you feeling adventurous and want to build up your drawings, by depicting the shades you can see, I have included two techniques you can use.
9/ Last thing I want you to do. Or rather, not do, is to look back through your journal, at least, not until a good few months have passed. I say this, because people don’t notice changes on a day-to-day basis.
But given a few months of working away at something they can then better see the amazing progress they’ve made since day one. With this in mind do not be afraid to redraw the same objects, as familiarity will improve your skill.
Learn to Draw – In summary:
- Have your drawing tools always handy
- Make drawing part of your daily routine
- Draw for just 10 minutes a day
- Document the objects around you
- Don’t put pressure on yourself
- Revisit the same subjects
- Have fun!
Once you’ve started a daily drawing habit you may want to work on your technique. Here are some bonus exercises that will help improve your skills.
The Daily Drawing Project Bonus Exercises: