Simple Drawing Techniques for Anxiety
Dear Wonderful, Creative You,
I don’t normally like to engage in “telling secrets,” but today I will, because I want to share three artistic secrets with you. Don’t tell anyone. Unless you like them. Or find them useful, or fun, or entertaining. Then please tell them to everyone you meet, scream it from your rooftop, and tattoo it to your forehead. Okay?
Artistic Secret #1: Everyone Can Draw
Doing art as creative self-care for this many years has taught me so much about myself, my feelings, and life. One of the things it’s taught me is that “art” is not as tightly defined as the general population seems to think it is. Most people say, “I can’t draw.” The secret is, I know they can. Of course not all of us can draw like DaVinci, but in my experience with students, most people can draw a lot better than they think they can, especially when they open up their idea of what constitutes a drawing or a “good drawing.”
[bctt tweet=”Everyone can draw, you just don’t know it yet. “]
Artistic Secret #2: Drawing Can Be Calming
When you are non-judgmental and open up your definition of what a “good drawing” is, drawing can be a very calming activity, especially for those of us who get a bit high strung or anxious. (Ahem. Who? Me? )
So how about it? Would you be willing to try some very simple art exercises and see whether or not they have a positive impact on your mood? As long as you can hold a pen, you can do it right.
[bctt tweet=”As long as you can hold a pen, you can draw.”]
Artistic Secret #3: Your Inner Critic is Just Scared
If you think your inner critic might get in the way of you approaching this with an open mind, you might want to first do the inner critic exercise from the Starting Your Art Journal e-book. You can find it for free here. Sometimes we all need some help getting our fears to step aside before we bravely try something new. Now let’s do some art exercises for relaxation!
[bctt tweet=”Tell your inner critic to take a break for a minute, then run to the nearest pen and paper and draw before it notices!”]
You can draw with whatever you’ve got at home – a pen or pencil and computer paper work just fine. If you are looking to get some of the same effects as I do in the pages below, or getting some new supplies will help you feel more inspired, you can find the Micron pen I use here, and the small Moleskine journal here.
Drawing Exercise: Drawing Lines
I find this exercise really helpful when I want to draw but feel uninspired, unfocused, or overwhelmed. I like to watch the lines appear across the page. I give myself permission to draw as fast or slow as feels good in the moment. Usually if I start out drawing fast and sloppy, after a few minutes I’ll find my lines getting neater and closer together, my breathing slows down, and I can think straight again. I particularly like this one when I feel really anxious. It’s grounding for me. Does this work for you?
While it seems silly, I really like the look of these pages in my journals. Sometimes I’ll leave them as is, and at others, I will use them as a background for writing, painting, or collage.
Drawing Exercise: Drawing Circles
This is one of my new favorite drawing techniques. I’ve been playing with it in my journals and in my paintings on canvas. I draw tiny little circles and barely make any decisions about where they are going. Instead, I just observe as they appear and migrate across the page.
My hand seems to pick up a rhythm and I follow along. Making the jagged lines in between which the circles exist suggests all sorts of natural things to me – maps, microscopic photography, or growth on the underside of a leaf. What do you see?
If you like these Micron pens you see pictured, you can find them here.*
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Drawing Exercise: Blind Contour Drawing
Recently I found a wonderful artist, Koosje Keone, who shares her beautiful journals and drawing techniques. Please check her out. She’s inspired me to get back into my blind contour drawings lately.
Blind contour drawing involves looking only at your subject, not your paper, and keeping one continuous line on the page. The results are distorted and yet precise, emotional, and very beautiful. I love how it brings me very forcefully into the present moment as I slowly move my pen across the edge of my subject.
DISCLAIMER: This is not “art therapy,” but rather a technique that might help you to ground and focus when you are feeling uninspired or anxious. If you are looking for an art therapist in your area, you can find one near you through the American Art Therapy Association’s therapist locator, found here.
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