April 21, 2017
Keep it simple: Danny draws his cup of tea every morning. Art: Danny Gregory
Countless things throughout the day can find their way between us and the pages of our sketchbooks. A stressful job, health issues, full schedules, or other challenges can cause a lack of physical or mental energy to motivate yourself to create a habit of regularly sketching. Whether it’s the monkey chattering in your mind or the TV that’s calling you, sometimes opening your sketchbook or uncapping the pen is a real struggle. How do you deal with these obstacles and push yourself to get your art supplies out anyway?
Danny is a self-taught artist who has taught thousands of people that they can be creative, no matter what—whether they think they don’t have time, money, or talent. He’s written a lot of books about how we can start being creative and stay that way. The subject opened a floodgate of responses and stories from the students in Exploring. The stories they’re telling about overcoming obstacles of every type to find joy in drawing are remarkable. (To see what they’re saying, and to join in the discussion, click here to enroll in Exploring.
Here are some suggestions from the Sketchbook Skool community on how to nurture your creative habits by making drawing a part of your day every day:
1. Have paper and pen everywhere (even in the restroom!). That way you always have sketching gear within reach. Make a simple doodle while on the phone, then make more elaborate drawings when you have more time. Don’t feel guilty if you commit yourself to doing a drawing a day and then miss one.
2. Allow yourself to crash on the couch after work. Drawing is a better way to de-stress and decompress from a busy day than watching TV or going online, and it’s a lot healthier than having a drink. Put a basket of art supplies right next to the couch so everything you need is within reach.
4. Think about how much better you feel when you draw. How happy it can make you. No one ever sat down and felt worse after making a drawing, even if they don’t love the sketch.
5. Perfect is the enemy of good. Just do it! Your skills will slowly improve even if you can’t make a perfect effort every single time.
6. Keep a small sketchbook and a pen in your backpack or purse. If you’re in line somewhere during the day, pull your sketchbook out and draw. It prevents boredom from the wait and it yields sketching time.
7. Use your sketching time as a meditation. Making art, even in short intervals of time, can make you concentrate just on what’s in front of you and not your pain or stress. It is a wonderful diversion and a form of meditation.
8. Draw while you have your coffee in the morning. Or while waiting for the tea kettle to boil. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. You can even try drawing with your coffee or tea.
9. Think of sketching as a mini-vacation from reality. When returning to reality, it seems to be slightly improved, because your focus is different for a little while.
10. Do what life allows. That’s all you can do. Energy comes from doing what makes you happy!
11. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Make it as easy as possible to draw from the couch with simple supplies (a pencil or pen), a small sketchbook and whatever is at hand to draw (your legs and feet, or a character in a TV show).
12. Go small. Save the more challenging subjects, techniques, or assignments for a day off or less busy time of day when your environment is a bit calmer.
13. Don’t pull out your entire toolbox or studio. All you need is pen and paper to make a great sketch.
14. Make yourself comfortable. You don’t need a fancy studio to make art. Whether it’s at the kitchen table or a cozy spot on the couch with a lap-desk or clipboard, you can make a great drawing wherever works best for you.
15. Give it a few minutes of time before you decide to go through with a drawing or scrap it if you aren’t “feeling it.” The concentration and meditative state of mind drawing produces can push away the fatigue, pain, or anything else that is troubling you. Creating art is one of the most healing gifts.
16. Don’t forget that drawing is fun and relaxing, not a chore.
Do you have any other tips to share?