Most people appreciate drawing, but when they are asked to sketch a picture, they freeze. And inside, their brain rolls a movie of the LAST time they drew a picture and someone saw it, started pointing and laughing.
Or perhaps someone asked, “What is that?” Both responses seared themselves into your hippocampus attached with embarrassment, so you promptly added a sign.
“No Drawing Here!”
If it does, know that out of the 6 million people that watched ,my TEDx talk Draw Your Future, in the 42,000 comments, 98 percent of the people wrote,” My drawing skills suck!” If you think yours do, you are not alone. Whenever you felt the sting of critique, you formed the belief that you cannot draw, and you have been living out that belief ever since.
In this short article I am going to show you 3 simple things you can do to break the habit of being yourself and reboot your drawing!
Tip 1: Warm Up Your Brain
Grab your journal or a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Now before you begin drawing, we have to relax the part of your brain that is worried you are about to embarrass yourself. So, take your pencil in hand and in the air, draw the infinity symbol, that figure eight sideways. Start with one hand doing it and then, just as if you are a conductor, add the other hand as well. Do this about ten times. ,Drawing the infinity symbol relaxes your brain and removes any blocks you have about what you are about to do.
Now we can get started!
Tip 2: Start with Basic Shapes
Most people start out trying to draw something complicated, like people. People are one of the hardest things to draw. To get to the stage of drawing people without mortifying yourself, I suggest you start by warming yourself up by drawing these simple shapes:
(Draw those right now 😉
These shapes are found in every object in the world. Take a look around the room you are sitting in, and you will see that the wall in front of you is actually a rectangle. The desk or table you are sitting at is made up of a series of squares and lines. Your coffee cup is a circle with a curvy shape below it, the handle is some form of a half circle or parenthesis.
Choose one object in your field of vision and sketch it “Simply.”
Don’t try or worry about being perfect, just let yourself draw.
Tip 3: Rewire Your Brain
We have to rewire over that old belief that you have about your drawing skills. In a medically reviewed article on how to ,rewire your brain, the author listed 6 ways to rewire it and one of them was her suggestion to make art. Definitely on topic, but that doesn’t help if you are still criticizing your artwork!
One of the simplest ways to rewire your brain to see your artwork more positively and subsequently want to make more of it is to look at the image you just drew and say out loud, “That is fantastic!” The more emphatic and excited you say this, the more it will stick in your brain and begin wiring the new neural pathways. Every time you draw anything, no matter how it looks, repeat this to yourself. Out loud is better because you want to make sure you really hear it
The truth is you and I started drawing when we were young, and we did it freely and enthusiastically! We didn’t worry about staying in the lines or even drawing anything in particular. We would just doodle or scribble or make a series of shapes or mazes. The critic was introduced at some point and we simply stopped drawing. Then we wired in the not drawing belief. But if you simply draw your notes each day, you can immediately improve your drawing skill.
When I first saw someone draw in a meeting I was in, I thought wow that looks like fun. I had great handwriting, but I couldn’t draw at all. In fact, the last thing I think I had drawn was a picture of some stuffed animal I had as a child. But I was determined to learn. When I first started again, my drawings were very basic. I had no idea how to begin to draw what I was seeing around me, so I ended up tracing things from other people’s drawings.
Then I began to just draw the room or plane I was sitting in, drawing what I saw over and over again. I drew the back of the passenger seat or I drew the overhead compartment. I drew the flight attendants walking down the aisle. Each time I took up a pen to draw something, I built this excitement which eventually overrode my fear of drawing. (Not to say that when someone asks me to draw an animal, I still have to check my self-talk.) But in every meeting, I sat in, I drew, I simply sketched my notes. A word here and a drawing there. It was super fun!
There’s a whole awesome world of people out there super excited about, Sketch noting, or bullet journaling and both are great ways to reboot your inner drawer. The most fun of all is to actually draw a picture of a discussion while facilitating a planning or brainstorming meeting. I call this being the Wizard at the Whiteboard.
Eventually I stepped into the role of becoming a live illustrator and now I capture hundreds of meetings every year on zoom or in person. At first people wonder what I am doing. Then as I begin to add images and color, they are totally mesmerized.
Because when you watch someone draw what a speaker is talking about, it helps you remember what they were saying. The live illustrator captures only parts of the conversation, their job is to synthesize and grab the essence. Also, when you watch someone draw, it reminds you of this part of yourself you may have left behind. That doodler is still there just waiting for you to pick up your pen and start sketching to rekindle your relationship.
Everyone can learn to draw; you just need to relax your brain’s fear center so that you can overcome your fear of drawing. Practice makes you into a better drawer, and there are 3 simple things you can do to overcome your fear of drawing:
- Warmup your brain by drawing the infinity symbol in the air – this calms down your anxiousness about how “good” it looks.
- Start by drawing simple shapes – square, triangle, circle, period, comma, line and note how these shapes make up every single object your eyes can see, or your hands can feel.
- Rewire your brain – whenever you draw anything, after you have sketched something out, audibly and enthusiastically say to yourself, “That is FANTASTIC!!!”
Drawing is an amazing way to note take or express yourself. It is part of your communication toolkit. The more time you spend drawing, the more confident you will feel about drawing. Let yourself try out this skill while you are on your next zoom call. If you need any encouragement at all, send me a simple drawing and I promise to send you a note that says,
“That is Fantastic! “
Because it will be and so are you!