You Are A Performance Artist

Friends of mine are musicians, and I was contemplating how their ways of practicing are different from how artists tend to practice.

We tend to make one drawing. We practice by making marks on the paper, and there is an output, a piece of paper that holds our creation for eternity.

Music is ephemeral. As it is played, it dissipates into the air. There for a brief, beautiful moment, and then gone forever.

Very different, right?

Well, maybe we are doing it wrong! Perhaps we should be practicing more as musicians do.

We’re performance artists also!

We’re in front of our work, holding our drawing instruments in certain ways as we gesture and motion with our hands, arms, and bodies to make the right mark.

It’s just that an audience doesn’t see our performance; they see the marks made on the paper.

Musicians record their final pieces, too, so an audience can listen to them later.

We’re like musicians. We move our bodies to make a piece of art, and the work gets recorded so that an audience can enjoy it later.

Maybe we should also practice like musicians! They don’t record their rehearsals! The tunes fleet away into the air. We should practice drawing like that, trying several throwaway sketches to get a design right before we make a finished piece that we keep for an audience to see.

I do this often when I do drawing from memory exercises. I have stacks of scrap paper to practice on. Sometimes I keep a scrap because the drawing came out right, but the intent is to practice, not to make a finished piece—yet.

Try to redo the same drawing several times, looking at what you think is wrong and trying to figure out how to fix that. And then do the same drawing again.

Maybe even throw away the drawings you made at the end to make it as ephemeral as music. It’s about practice.

My Favorite Drawing Exercises

If you feel like drawing, then check out my favorite drawing exercises!

Do these exercises

form studies to warm up, slow down, get into the right meditative state, and improve your draftsmanship skills.

Do these form studies

form studies 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.

Check out these pleasing, calm, art-related (mostly) podcasts to listen to while drawing. They have been automatically prepared for you to automatically binge-listen to so that you can start drawing.

Lastly, also make sure you have fun in your sketchbook after the hard practice! Here is one guide that can help you jog your creativity.

creativity exercise

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