In this article I’ll share with you some tips on how you can draw more often, and where you can find the time and motivation to do so.
Let me put a disclaimer first. I don’t draw that often. But I still feel like I’m qualified to give some advice because I have made over 2,000 Youtube videos, now a parent of two and managing this blog. All the tips and strategies shared below are used by me when it comes to creating content, regardless of whether it’s art or video.
This article is for people who wish to draw more often, who don’t have time to draw due to commitments, life, being a parent, and for those who have no inspiration or motivation, or have many unfilled sketchbooks.
Make your sketchbook accessible
The first tip is simple. Put your sketchbook on your table, and maybe have a pen beside it too. Make your sketchbook accessible so that you can reach over, open it and start drawing.
If you spend much time outdoors, bring a sketchbook with you all the time. Small A6 sketchbooks are very portable. You can find small sketchbooks from Stillman and Birn, Moleskine, Handbook Journal Co sketchbooks (formally Global Art Materials), Arkademie and many other manufacturers.
You can even sketch on your phone. You just have to use a stylus so that you don’t have to draw with your finger.
You can draw while you’re waiting for the bus, train, or your friends and colleagues when they are late for lunch.
Create a visual journal
Creating a visual journal can help you draw more often too. Just think of a theme and draw all things relating to the theme.
For example, I have a sketchbook dedicated to drawing all things relating to my two kids. There’s one sketchbook just for doodles and random drawings. I have several urban sketching and travelogue sketchbooks.
You create a digital visual journal too, on a tablet. I use the Concepts app for visual journaling because the app has an infinite canvas. There’s one journal where I draw my second daughter and I can add more drawings to the journal without running out of space. You can do that with a sketchbook too, of course, and add more pages.
With a visual journal and a theme already chosen, you can add to whatever drawings you’ve drawn previously. The nice thing about this type of visual journaling is you don’t have to spend lots of time to create a masterpiece. You just have to keep adding your drawings and you will create a substantiate amount of drawings with time.
Small drawings take less time to complete than big detailed drawings. A sketch such as the one you see above will take just 5 to 15 minutes to complete.
If you use small sketchbook, you’ll be forced to draw small and sacrifice detail because there just won’t be any space to draw details.
If you only have time for drawing today, add colours tomorrow.
If you have a big sketchbook, you can draw on a small portion of the page and leave a blank area to fill some other day.
Draw with your kids
If you have kids and don’t have time, draw with your kids. You can teach your kids to draw, or draw shapes for them to fill in. All these drawings will be fun to look at in the future.
Don’t be too caught up with perfection
You can use sketchbooks for testing out ideas, or for troubleshooting. For example, before I draw complicated scenes, I like to make a quick sketch to block out the composition and also to identify challenging or problematic areas.
Spending some time to create quick sketches can help you prevent mistakes later on and can help you save time from making less mistakes and having to correct them.
And not all sketches have to be completed. Not all sketches have to be beautiful. Not all sketches have to be perfect.
Cut down on social media usage
Social media is a huge time sink because it can be so addictive.
You can reclaim so much time if you cut back on social media use. Or you can use your time on social media more purposefully. For example while on social media, you can screenshot styles so that you recreate the style on another day, or you can jot down ideas on subjects to draw. This is better than browsing through social media feed mindlessly.
If you feel like you’re checking social media too often, is it because your phone is too accessible? Put your phone further away. Or replace social media browsing with some other activities, such as listening to music and drawing.
Create an archive of your art. Slowly but surely, as you draw regularly, you will amass a good amount of work and it can be inspiring and motivating to look back at all the art you have created.Likes and hearts are worthless compared to the sense of satisfaction you get when it takes minutes to scroll to the bottom of your Instagram page.
There’s no rush to fill a sketchbook
Don’t be dejected if you can’t fill a sketchbook faster than you want. You are not in a race. Actually you should not think about filling your sketchbook. You should think of ideas on what to draw, and draw. The sketchbook will fill by itself when you draw.
I’ve sketchbooks that took months or years to fill. The sketchbooks that I fill the fastest are the travelogue sketchbooks when I’m on my holiday sketching trips.
Create a schedule
This can work for some people.
If you feel drawing is important, then schedule some time for drawing, and make that the first thing you do everyday.
I personally don’t have schedules or follow schedules. I don’t use schedule because I can be busy or free at any time. What I do is write down a list of tasks I want to do, and whenever I have free time, I would complete the tasks and check off the list. The tasks can be drawing, writing or making my Youtube videos.
Make a habit out of drawing
Ultimately what you really want to do is to make a habit out of drawing or creating. When whatever you do becomes a habit, it’s so much easier to get things done.
Activities such as browsing social media is so easy because it has become a habit. And bad habits are unproductive.
Inspiration or motivation isn’t something that appears just by flipping a switch. You should learn to draw despite having no inspiration or motivation. If you have an artist block, go see what other artists are doing.
It can be benefit to start with some drawing exercises just to warm up, e.g. contour drawing exercises. Drawing is quite similar to physical exercise, or playing any musical instrument. You should practice often to keep in shape. The more you draw, the more you can draw and the better you get.
Don’t give yourself the excuse that you have no time to draw. I’m very sure you will be able to find 5 to 15 minutes out of your awake time to draw.