Lack of motivation can often be the major reason why you won’t draw, it’s the main villain of drawing, in truth, it’s the main villain in any subject. That's why I've created this post with different ways to motivate yourself to draw more, daily!
The trick is always the same: start!
Is it just loose lines with no actual shape? Good. Is it a stickman? Good. Congratulations, you’ve won against your lack of motivation.
If you still doubt me, keep scrolling and you'll find practical ways to be able to motivate yourself to draw more, every day!
1) Stuck? Try New Things!
Even in present days I will find myself looking for the needed motivation to start drawing, I get up, have my breakfast and my morning coffee and then I realize my motivation is nowhere to be found! I start looking everywhere, did I leave the motivation in my bed? Under the pillow? What to do now? Silly me, it’s right here with me, as always, it’s just very good at playing hide and seek!
The trick is always to find what works for you! Let’s see some examples:
- Gesture Drawing: this is my go-to exercise, where you’ll draw a series of poses, usually with reference, in a short amount of time, going from 10-second poses to 5 minutes, you choose your pace. It doesn’t need to be perfect, that’s actually the point, you’re just loosening up yourself and your lines while at the same time forming ideas to new drawings. It's also one of the first things I teach in my Figure Drawing course.
- Daily Prompts: you can find these anywhere: Google, Pinterest, just type it and you’ll find a lot of examples. This can be extremely helpful because not only will it give you ideas on what to draw, it will also challenge you into drawing and trying new things.
- Pick up your sketchbook and go for a walk: sometimes you need a change of view and pace, get up and go for a walk in your neighborhood, bring your sketchbook (here are a few recommendations of Sketchbooks) with you or just your phone to take pictures of things that you feel that inspire you! Looking at the same things every day might lead you to a stump and looking at new things might bring some motivation back!
- Try new and different art styles: this is always a fun exercise for you to do, do you tend to have a very realistic art style? Awesome! Let’s try and do the exact opposite today and try a very cartoony style! You don’t tend to work a lot with shapes and geometry? Well, here’s the chance for that! Look up on the internet or books that you might have for different art styles and try them out. It’s a very fun exercise and will open new horizons to you and your art.
- Try new characters, creatures or even environments: Personally, I like to draw people, character design is my playground, but even in that area I tend to draw more women than men for example.
Sometimes a good thing to do is getting out of that comfort zone and try new things: let’s draw men today! Or no, actually, let’s draw some flowers! No, no, animals! A dragon! Or, finally, try and draw an environment scene, which for me is the most terrifying thing to draw, but like I said: Let’s get out of our comfort zone and give other subjects a try!
- Use new tools: Your most used material can be your very trusty pencil of that specific brand or you just trust your drawing tablet along with your computer, but sometimes you get bored of it or you’re just not feeling them as you usually do. What to do?? Well, the answer is: try other materials! Instead of a pencil, pick up some brush pens and markers or if you’re feeling brave, pick up those brushes and paints that you have at home and that you haven’t touched in oh so many years!
If you don’t want to do traditional art at all, try new brushes on your software or even a whole new drawing software! There’s a lot of new things you can try and have fun with and maybe you can even find a new drawing style for yourself!
2) Have Self-Discipline, Here's How
If you want to be a successful self-taught artist (or even trained), you need to have self-disciple! Here are some tips on how you can do this:
- Acknowledge what can and will distract you and remove them from your working environment: Look around you and your working place and try to rid of anything that you think will distract you, be it either food, social media, phone, tv, anything! It’s as simple as that!
- Just do it! Most of the times when trying to apply some Self-Discipline into your life, that means you have to change your routine or some bits of your routine and you’ll find yourself postponing it by waiting for that day that feels right to start! Well, the only way that the right day will arrive is when you decide to, so no more “Tomorrow is the day”, no, from now on: Today is the Day! This mindset works for everything in life really, we’ll often feel afraid of trying something new and instead of doing it, will just keep on thinking about doing it. So that’s the secret: Do it!
- Schedules: Remember to take breaks, if you’ve been drawing non-stop for 2 hours, take a 10-minute break, go grab a cup of water, have a snack, walk around the house, stretch out for a bit. If you tend to forget about taking a break (me, I’m looking at me right now), put an alarm on your phone every two hours, even better: put your phone or alarm clock away from you so that it will force you to walk out of your working place for a bit and take a breather.
- Reward Yourself: if you find that it’s hard for you to concentrate for more than half an hour, make a deal with yourself: if you manage to draw an hour straight without distractions, you get to go watch one more episode of that series that you’re hooked to right now. This is just an example, but you get my drift: set up goals and reward yourself by meeting them. Treat yourself!
- Learn to accept failure and to move on: You’ll fail, this is a universal truth, failure is normal and it can and will happen, BUT it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing: you learn from it every single time. So if you fail with any of the steps above, that’s fine, don’t be hard on yourself and don’t let frustration win! Acknowledge your mistake and move on from it, tomorrow is a new day and you know you’ll do better this time.
3) Set the Mood for Work Time
Setting the mood is a very important element when working on your drawings! If something in your working space doesn’t make you feel good and comfortable, then you won’t feel good while working either.
There’s a lot of ways to set up the mood for work time and it will depend on you and how you like to work, for example, I like to light up some incense in my living room while I’m drawing sometimes or instead of drawing at the table, I’ll move to the sofa. This
If you feel you get distracted a lot by your phone and social media, put your phone on silent mode or even leave it somewhere a bit far from your working place. As for social media, you can always mute your notifications for some time, so that their occasional ding won’t bother your or tempt you into checking your notifications.
If you find yourself often distracted by sounds around you, put some headphones on your ears so that it can muffle most of the sound, you can even use some white noise apps like White Noise
Once again, it’s all a matter of looking around you what makes you good and comfortable to work, make the changes you feel you need to and start drawing!
4) Build a Schedule
I know, we’ve talked about schedules and schedules are boring! Bear with me, this won’t be very complex. When I say build a schedule, I mainly mean: get some time in your day to draw. Everyday. If you want to motivate yourself to draw but find the lack to do it, the best way to go for is to schedule it. Grab a piece of paper or even put an alarm on your phone, let’s say at around 6 pm and when the alarm goes off you go sit down and sketch and draw for a bit, even if it’s for just 15 minutes!
5) The Buddy System and Staying Accountable
Let's talk about the Buddy System. Friends are important, be it either in real life or online. Find people that enjoy drawing and you can support and motivate each other! You can also join Facebook art groups or even Discord servers, where people will post their art and you can share yours as well and then you have a place where you can talk and give or ask for tips and help as well.
Having someone to share your things with, especially if you enjoy the same topics, like drawing, you’ll be looking forward to creating art more often and to see what others do as well!
Also, sometimes you might feel frustrated with your art and how you view it and interacting with someone else can always help you give another perspective to your drawings! Share your art with the world!
6) Don’t Dwell on It, Start!
Like I said before, don’t wait for tomorrow or the day after, or the next week, or...or...No! If you want to start, start today! There’s no need for fear!
Most of the times when trying something new and that we’re not overly confident in, our mind will try and find different ways to avoid doing that out of fear of failing. Well, I have news: it will happen. Even when you’re a veteran at drawing, there will be times where you want to draw something and it won’t come out as you want and that’s fine!
Even when you feel like your drawings aren’t as good as you wanted, you have to remind yourself that you’re improving every day and one day you’ll look back to those drawings from one year ago and surprise yourself on how much better your drawings are right now. You’re always learning and changing the way you perceive things and that means that your drawings will change as well. Practice every day and the most important thing: Remember your end goal but love all the process to get there.
7) Scribble your Way to New Topics
Some days it feels you can’t have any idea good enough for you to draw about or if you do it seems like your hands are against you and won’t do the lines and drawings like you wanted them to look like. “Well ok,” you say “let’s leave this for another day and just have another kind of fun today!”.
Grab your sketchbook and just scribble on it aimlessly, it doesn't need to have a concrete shape, let it be abstract today. You can also just practice some circles, squares or straight lines, the act of moving your wrist and arm helps your brain get into a momentum which keeps you going, motivating more and more!
So just empty your mind and scribble away, who knows maybe at the end of your practice you’ll even end up with a nice sketch that you can work on later!
This is an excellent exercise because even if you’re not doing something specific, you’re still improving your art and your lines, you’re loosening up your hand, wrist and arms and the next time you draw you’ll notice you won’t be as tense or as fearful about your lines!
8) Remember to Have Fun
Drawing is FUN! Art is FUN! If it’s not fun right now, relax for a bit, take a walk around your house or go to the park, and come back later. Draw a silly face, draw your angry face because you couldn’t draw the second eye even though the first one looked perfect (okay that might be just me)!
If you decided to draw, even if it’s just as a hobby the most important thing you have to remember is to have fun and not let frustration take place. You’re creating new things! You have to love what you’re creating!
Even if you’re doing a sadder or more melancholic piece at the moment, it’s important for you to enjoy it. A lot of times and some of my favorite pieces that I’ve made are illustrations that portray some sadness, I like the emotion that comes with them and I enjoy doing them the most!
So yes, the most important thing you’ll read in this article and that I always speak about in my courses, is this: have fun with drawing, there’s no point in doing something that you won’t enjoy, if you’re feeling annoyed with what you’re doing right now, take a break and come back to it later and even if that doesn’t work, start over or draw something else.
9) Seek Inspiration, Don’t Wait for It to Come to You
Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you, or you’ll die waiting. Seek it out, go to an Art Museum, look up your favorite Artists online. See their sketches, see their super old posts where their art wasn’t so good. Everyone has been there before! Most of the times you won’t be suddenly stricken by inspiration and others you’ll want to draw something but don’t know how, so the best way to deal with that it’s to look for it!
Look up books and comics that you love and that always inspired you, look for movies, series or even music videos. The style, fashion, and even the music might inspire you and your art. Look for things that you like and people that you like to see and that will give a lot of the ideas and resources for your drawings.
It’s all about patience and working towards a goal. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Motivation is the first step to start drawing, wanting isn’t enough, you have to do it and for that, well you’ll need to give yourself a dose of motivation every day. Follow these simple and easy tips and you’ll see how much you’ll improve and how much happier you’ll be with your art!
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