When my daughter was around two, I remember that she was drawing, and I decided to draw along with her. I took a color pencil, and I started to make lines on the same paper.
Soon enough, our pencils crossed, and a “sword fight” ensued. That is when I realized that she wasn’t concentrating on the drawing. She was still fascinated by the fact that she could put down a pencil and make a mark.
For this week’s challenge, try to be a child again who draws for the first time. Just look at the marks you make as you make them. Be in awe of just these marks. Forget about the drawing.
This might sound like a touchy-feely thing, but try it! It works great wonders to help you not take things as seriously.
The idea would be for me, or one of you, to pick one reference image, and pick it apart. We'd draw it from observation, from memory, study it for storytelling, see if we can simplify and idealize it in ways, maybe even go for a cartoon or manga style after we drew it realistically, change proportions and such, maybe turn something into a character design, or try to draw it from another angle, try to understand the underlying volumes, stick the details onto other volumes, et cetera.
Just slow down and study one reference image for a week. Life online is making us too restless. With our short attention spans, we don't stop to enjoy things as much any more.
We could use the Practice Drawing This Subreddit—which I guess has been a bit dormant for a while—to post things. I could do draw-overs for people who were interested. If the subreddit thing worked, I think I'd build something that would run on my website, but Reddit is already there for us to try it on.
I just feel like my newsletter has been about things adjacent to drawing lately, and I think it should be about drawing again. It would also make the name of the website make sense again: Practice Drawing This: we deep-dive into one reference image and pick it apart to learn from it. Which parts do you need to draw really accurately, and which parts can you render with flourish and abandon? Which details can we leave out? Can we imagine new details?
I've written a few short guides this week:
One on drawing from memory because it truly is a Swiss army knife for practicing.
I think that's actually all that it should be, right? You form a creative habit, you warm up, and you draw.
I feel like maybe if I keep it simple on the website, maybe I get to draw more, and hopfully you too.
What do you think?
Sketchbook Skool is a great YouTube channel that gets you to just draw and have fun with it. The Channel is by Danny Gregory who also wrote the book An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers .
This videos, What Destroys the Joy of Drawing And Ways to Fix It , has some great thoughts on why you should try to be like a child again when drawing.
I also created a post on how to create a sustainable artistic habit .
If you feel like drawing, then check out my favorite drawing exercises!
to warm up, slow down, get into the right meditative state, and improve your draftsmanship skills.
to help you improve creating underdrawings, place things in space, practice doing perspective by sight.
Practice drawing from memory to fill your visual bank, ability to memorize, ability to visualize, ability to draw what you see in your imagination and your ability to see what is wrong with your drawings.
If you find it hard to create or maintain a creative habit, you can find some habit-related tips here. Lastly, also make sure you have fun in your sketchbook after the hard practice!