How to Form a Daily Drawing Habit

How to Form a Daily Drawing Habit

How to you get into the groove of drawing every day, especially when you have a full schedule?

You know that improving anything requires practice. We can’t get better at something without working at it.

You also know that there’s no better way to improve your drawing skills than with a daily drawing habit.

Perhaps you’ve wanted to get into that regular drawing groove, but time slips away, you’re distracted, or there doesn’t seem to any time on your calendar to devote to it.

What do you do?

 

Habits are natural and intentional

You already have habits or routines you do every day without fail — without thinking about having to do them. Much of your daily activity is based on your natural tendencies. Other actions have been trained into you.

Drawing every day is something you have to train yourself to do.

Drawing every day is a sure-fire way to get better at it. Consciously making the effort to automate your drawing time into your life will pay off for you in the long run. The joy for you will be in the process.

 

Drawing every day is something you have to train yourself to do.

 But, if you’re like me, you can struggle with actually getting the routine going.

 

 

Drawing needs to become normal

To become habitual, drawing has to be something you do in the normal course of your day .

Creating a habit’s a mindset thing. You have to change your mind, literally.

Establishing a new habit starts with a decision that you make over and over again every day until you no longer need to remind yourself.

You can’t form a daily habit unless you decide it’s important to you to do it every day. Make it part of your routine. You get up every morning, get dressed, have some coffee, write in your journal, and draw. Or at night you turn off the TV and draw before going to bed.

 

Consider the reward

We’re programmed to seek pleasure. Not all habits are easy to get going. Even so, you should enjoy the daily habits you’re forming or else you won’t form the habit very easily.

Focus on your desired outcome. Whether it’s to improve your drawing skill, to work toward mastery, to be able to express yourself, to take pleasure in the creative process, to be able to exhibit or sell your work, your motivation will be fueled by the results.

Whatever your drawing goal is, keep it top of mind. Reaching your goal is the reward for your hard work.

 

Draw anyway

Sometimes drawing comes easily and it just seems to flow out of you. Other times it’s a struggle and nothing’s working. Realize that you’re going to have good days and bad days. This is natural to the creative process.

Does self-judgement hold you back? The thing is to draw anyway. Figure out how to take pleasure in the act of drawing, not the outcome. This is not a competition; it’s a growth process. Enjoy the process.

Do you expect to draw perfectly? I’ve worked with a number of students who’ve given up because they don’t draw as well as I do right out of the gate. Because they can’t draw well as beginners, they resign and never develop their skill. What they don’t understand is that skill is developed over time. It’s taken me years of effort to draw as well as I do. But I’m still working at it. Are you?

 

Fuel the desire

Create the hunger within yourself to form the drawing habit.

How do you do that?

Start by feeding yourself with the kind of drawing you want to do. This means looking at drawings and illustrations by others that represent the kinds of techniques, media and topics you aspire to.

If you want to draw comic books and graphic novels, you need to study those genres. You also need to look at anatomy, perspective, and animation.

If you want to draw portraits, you’ll need to study portrait artists.

Are animals your thing? Study the work of designers and artists who draw and paint them.

Paying careful attention to the work of others gives you insight and ideas for your own work. This inspiration is fuel that keeps you motivated.

 

Start small

Habits are formed one small step at a time. As you start out, decide to do something that won’t cost you much to get it done. Then work up to larger goals.

For example, your goal could be to draw for 10 minutes every morning. That’s easy to do for most people. Or it could be to draw one thing every day. Or to use a different medium or fill one page in your sketchbook every day.

Once you gain momentum, change it up. Increase the time you spend, increase your drawing speed, draw more complex subjects. Keep challenging yourself to level up.

 

 

Create a consistent schedule

Since the more often you draw, the more easily it becomes a habit, then you should consider drawing more than once a day. This is referred to as bookending.

Most people find it’s easier to commit time to draw at the start of the day and at the end of the day, right before going to bed. Doing a midday thing is harder to do because you have less control of your time with work, school, family and other obligations.

To make drawing part of your morning and evening rituals, start your day with 10 minutes of drawing. End it with another drawing session.

To accomplish your goals, you have to change. Change is uncomfortable. To change you have to exit your comfort zone and do things that don’t always feel good. Be willing to exchange less productive activity with your drawing session. Maybe, instead of exploring your social feeds, you spend that time working on your creative projects.

 

Create a place

Create a space where you do your drawing. Keep your sketchbooks, references, tools and materials there. Set up good lighting. The space doesn’t need to be a dedicated studio or office. It can be your kitchen table, coffee table or a chair on your patio or family room.

Whatever space you choose, above all, make it comfortable.

 

Done is better than perfect

The point is not to create finished, fully-rendered drawings. The idea is to form the drawing habit so that it becomes so familiar and routine that you’re doing it without much thought about getting it done.

If all you get done in five or ten minutes is a couple of gesture sketches, that’s great! You’re one step closer to making drawing a daily thing.

 

Focus on small wins

The first day you spend 10 minutes drawing is a win. If you spend another 10 minutes drawing the next day, that’s another win. You’ve now won twice in a row.

With two successful drawing sessions in a row, your brain’s checking that off as two wins in a row. You’re on a roll!

You see, to form a habit you need to rewire your thinking. Every time you do something successfully — even something small — your brain registers it.

Over time, all those little wins pile up and you’ve developed confidence and skill. That confidence carries you forward. You have certainty that you can make things happen in your life. You can make positive changes. You can take charge of your schedule, interests, work and personal life. You can continue to draw every day and always be working to improve your skill.

When we start anything new, we first need to learn how to do it. To draw, we need to understand the mechanics — tools, techniques — and we need to understand the principles of form, space, color, and structure. The foundational information is necessary to understand what we’re doing.

After we’ve acquired the basic knowledge and skill, it’s time to add structure and systems so that we can sustain the habits, making them an integral part of our lives. Systems and frameworks enable you to take appropriate shortcuts, since you have regular methods and aren’t wasting time figuring out what to do. One practical shortcut is to use sketchbooks.

 

Use a sketchbook

Carry a couple of sketchbooks and drawing tools with you at all times. Opportunities to sketch will present themselves during your day, so be prepared.

The benefits of using a book instead of loose pages or a tablet and app is that you create a natural chronology of your drawing development. This is something to look back on to understand your progress, and even showcase at some point on an Instagram post or YouTube video.

Pros and beginners alike keep sketchbooks. So no matter what your experience level, using a sketchbook to facilitate your drawing habit is a basic expectation.

 

 

What should you draw?

Sometimes we create stumbling blocks for ourselves through indecision. This includes what should you draw. Objects and scenes are all around you. Pick something. Other ways to develop the daily drawing discipline include:

Creative challenges

Do an internet search on “drawing challenges or art challenges and you’ll get pages of results. Completing a creative challenge is a good way to stay focused and intentional with your habit formation.

I present new drawing and creative challenges every couple months in our Eye Level Facebook community. Click here to join for free.

Create your own creative challenges. There’s plenty of inspiration online — check out Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Pick a subject and how long you want to work on it. Commit to it daily for that time period. Note how much you improve from day one to the final day.

Page a day.

Fill one page in your sketchbook every day with drawing, sketches, doodles, and/or lettering.

Follow subject matter cycles.

During the first week of the month, draw one type of thing, like shoes, or fruit, or hands. The next week, draw a different type of form for the whole week. And so on.

One thing 100 ways drawing challenge

Draw the same thing 100 times, each time from a different angle, pose or lighting direction. After you’ve drawn that thing one hundred times, pick a different thing and draw it 100 times. Keep going.

 

How long will it take?

Forming habits is not an all it once thing. It takes time. You cannot form a habit in one day. Significant change requires courage, consistency, and chronology. Give yourself time to build the habit.

Build your habit with daily sessions, daily actions that are small steps on the road to your larger goal. You can easily succeed in small steps. It’s much harder to succeed in one fell swoop. Make small incremental improvements.

 

Significant change requires courage, consistency, and chronology.

 Consistency over time results in automation. By that I mean that it takes a good bit of time for something to become natural to you. You’re probably not going to form a new habit something you do as a normal part of your routine without really thinking about doing it — in 21 days which is the popular notion.

Depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish by forming a daily drawing habit, it can take the better part of a year for things to kick in and become something you do  automatically.

What if you miss a day or two? Since forming new habits is a long-term process, missing a day or two is not going to be very harmful. But understand that If you habitually miss days, it’s going to take you longer to form that habit.

What I’ve noticed in working with students, and in myself, is that missing one day is no big deal. Pick back up the next day, and keep showing up every day after that.

If you miss two days in a row, it’s harder to get back into it. Missing twice in a row almost doubles the amount of resistance to forming the habit. This is especially true if you beat yourself up for missing a day. Don’t dwell on your failure. Start again. Play the long game.

Building new habits into your life is not an all or nothing thing. Be forgiving when you mess up. Be aware of why you messed up and what it means in the larger scheme of your life. In other words what characteristics or tendencies do you need to change so that you can accomplish what you want to? Procrastination? Indecision? Fear?

 

Start today

To form a daily drawing habit the first thing you need to do is start. Pick a day. Make it today. Get out your drawing materials and go do that creative thing. After you’ve done it, you have a success under your belt. You’ve accomplished something. So, do it again the next day and the day after that Keep going. In a few months take stock of how far you’ve come.

As a result, your creative habit becomes ingrained into your daily routine. Once it’s a habit, you won’t have to make yourself do it.

 Do you want accountability for your daily drawing habit? Here’s an easy challenge for you:

If you haven’t already joined our EyeLevel Facebook community use this link. You’ll have to answer couple questions and agree to the policies of the community in order to be accepted.

Once you’re in the group, introduce yourself, tell us what you’re interested in, and share an example of your work..

And then continue to share some work every week for the next six months.

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and design director at Alvalyn Creative, an independent practice near Thousand Oaks, California. She creates visual branding, publications and books for business, entrepreneurs and authors. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business roadmap program for creative freelancers. Contact her for your visual branding, graphic and digital design needs. Join her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe to her free monthly newsletter.

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