Free friday - on drawing


I'd like to dedicate this weeks Free Friday post to a problem I think a lot of people have: being too insecure about their drawing capabilities. In my illustration courses what I hear most is '...but I can't draw'. I think this is something that has kept too much people back from exploring and having fun while creating.

There are a few things that can keep you back big time from making the things you want to draw in a non-stressful way:

Comparing Yourself To Others 
Oh my, even I am guilty to that sometimes. It can be quite hard to stick to your own work and feel good about it when there is so much beautiful work made in the world (that you are exposed to all over the internet, all the time).
But... there is a trick (it at least works for me): keep in mind that you see your work all the time, you're used to what it looks like. Therefor it might not seem that new and exciting to you as other people's work does. Others might look at your drawings with the same oooh and aaahs you look at theirs, just because it's new to them.

The Past
You might have heard at school when you were younger that you had no talent for drawing, you sucked at it. But who said this? I think that in the 'old days' drawing must have been something specific that only had to do with how well you could draw from a model or even from the top of your head. Nowadays drawing (and illustrating) is much more about a freedom of mind, of creativity, not of technically being able to draw perfectly.
But ask yourself this: what makes a drawing interesting, it being perfect or a clear vision of freedom and fun in the picture?

It Has To Be Pretty
When you start drawing with the thought in mind: 'it has to become pretty', you're only thinking about the outcome.
What about the process? When you bake a cake, do you only think about what it has to look and taste like when coming out of the oven, without reading the recipe? You have to follow the steps in a recipe to make the cake just as yummy as it's supposed to be. Maybe you taste the batter along the way and feel it needs some more cinnamon or sugar? You would not have known this if you just bashed all the ingredients in the baking tray without thought and put it in the oven like that.
The process of making is just as important as the outcome, it's even more important because without the process there is no outcome! Also keep in mind that a process needs time and maybe trying again and again but along the way you might discover some amazing and inspiring new things!

Your Inner Judge
While drawing you might not like what you see happening on your paper. Are you disappointed not to be able to draw what you'd like to draw, what you have visioned in your mind? Why try to draw what's already in your mind, why not try something new? Let yourself be surprised of what happens on paper. If you hold on desperately to what you want to draw, you are not giving yourself the space to make what you can draw (even better) and will get stuck in disappointment.
Your inner judge is not a very talented illustrator anyway as it mostly only draws what it knows (it's know for wanting to hold on to what it knows) and not what it actually sees.

There is a fun way of drawing to prevent your inner judge to criticize and hold you back, and to train your eye (half the work with drawing is to look very closely to what you are drawing):
it's called 'eye-hand-coordination drawing'. How does this work?

Find a simple object (a vase, pen or mug, whatever is on hand) en place it in front of you. Take a big sheet of paper and a sharp pencil. Focus on the object, find a spot to being and place your pencil on your sheet. NOW... once placing you pencil on the sheet, look back at your object and start following the line of the object (it's easiest to start with the outline) with your eyes while following on paper with your pencil. Keep doing this until you can't go any futher (the line ended or you've come back at the beginning).

When you look at your drawing it might seem ridiculous and off. But once you practice more and get the hang of it you will train your eye to coordinate with your drawing hand. The more you do this, the better you will be able to draw. And the best part of it: because you are nor allowed to look at the paper while drawing, your inner judge will not be able to interfere!

For more information and a how-to on 'eye-hand-coordination drawing' (or 'blind contour drawing') see here.


  1. Mooi gezegd. En niet alleen toepasbaar op tekenen. ;)

  2. a wonderful post kim thanks for sharing your insights. im really enjoying this friday series : )


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