In her remarkable book ‘Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain,’ Betty Edwards explains how you should shut out words from your mind while drawing.
Those words are from that know-it-all part of your brain that is constantly talking loud. If you shut that down and create perfect silence in your head, your silent, creative part of your brain starts to tell you things.
It is very subtle.
You will feel a sense of excitement if a line came out wrong, but if it does look wonderful anyway—a happy accident.
You won’t notice that soft, gentle excitement in your brain if your voice in your head is screaming at the top of its lungs.
But then again.
You tend to be more productive if you have soft noise in the background; in a coffee shop, say.
Art academy had this one session where they let us do live model drawing classes while listening to soft, gentle classical music, which works wonders for getting your mind into the right space.
I find that listening to upbeat music helps me stay in the high-octane flow I need for programming.
But then again.
When trying to memorize a visual reference to draw it from memory later, it is best to have total silence.
An artist friend sets up these Zoom calls where fellow artists can hang out and draw while shooting the breeze on drawing, comics, movies, and any other topic. I found it worked tremendously well, both as an accountability group—you don’t want to be the one not showing up—and as background sound while drawing. It was satisfying to draw while listening to others discuss things.
When I am inking, I like to listen to an audiobook, podcast, or YouTube video. It’s like when you are in a meeting; you tend to want to start doodling. It’s fun to draw while listening to other people talking.
If you are writing, I find that you can not listen to people talking. Expel those ‘words’ from your brain to think about the sentences you are writing at that moment. Even music can be too distracting. But the background noise of a coffee shop is perfect.
I find that it depends. Listening to something while you are creating something influences you, and it can influence you in a good and a bad way. It can get you into the right mental state, but when you choose the wrong background sound, it can interfere with your process considerably.
Find out what works for your current creative activities. Do you need absolute silence or the gentle background noise of a coffee shop? Or do you work better while listening to soft, gentle music? Or do you need up-beat music? Do you like to listen to people discussing things in the background while creating? Try it out! There is no one correct answer.
I mentioned Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, still the very best book to read for people who are looking at getting into drawing.
And there is, of course, my YouTube channel where I try to create videos you can listen to while drawing.
I also wrote about choosing your experiences because they will show in your work.Next article: Best Drawing Pen?