Day 14. Fun Lesson: HOW TO HAVE FUN... DRAWING (Closed Eyes, Alternate Hand)
Who knew learning to draw could be so FUN.
My Grown-Ups Table friends!
As of today, we are two weeks in to our 30-Day Drawing Habit. You. Are. A. Rockstar!
In just two weeks, you practiced drawing doodles to focus, decrease anxiety, let go of expectations and perfectionism, and identify and process your thoughts and feelings. You used drawing and writing to amp up your noticing skills, focus on process over outcome, and pay attention to the endless delights in your life, inside and out. And you did it all in community with a supportive (and might I say quite good-looking) group of new creative friends. Good job, you.
It takes effort, time, and commitment to grow a creative habit. And you are - we are - doing it. Let’s keep going.
It’s Sunday in the midst of our 30-Day Drawing Habit, which means today we move into a new theme for the week ahead.
This week, we’re doing two things I think every single one of us could all use a little more of: fun drawing lessons.
The LESSONS part.
Let’s get this out of the way: there will be no report card. No tests. No right or wrong answers. There are NO RULES in GUT lessons. These are only suggestions that you should feel free to ignore. As always, you do you.
And at the same time, sometimes it feels good to be given a little instruction and return to the basics for a refresh. That is what we are going to do this week.
Every day this week I will give you a new, mini-art lesson. These WILL NOT be “how to draw an X” or deep dives into two-point perspective (tho we’ve done those in the GUT for sure.) Instead, these lessons will give you opportunities to try new things and look at the world with fresh eyes. A good art lesson shouldn’t intimidate you or bore you, or pummel you into becoming a certain kind of artist. It should encourage you to experiment, add tools to your toolbox, and be a shot of joy that makes you want to keep going. I hope these will do this.
Also, I say these lessons are “for beginners.” To be clear, by beginner, I mean everyone. Because if there’s one thing drawing teaches you, it’s to cultivate a beginner’s mind and a growth mindset.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” - Picasso.
Any accomplished artist will tell you that there are endless experiments to make in the most straightforward exercises, and we discover something new every time. So if you’ve done some of these lessons before, GREAT. Here is your chance to try something new. If not, GREAT. Here is your chance to try something new. ;)
Heads up: These will be short little FUN bites. To make these lessons effective, I will do my best to make them short, sweet, and FUN. We are still using our TEN-MINUTE TIMER. And some of them may take less. And that’s fine, too.
Also! Along with the little lessons, I’ll introduce you to other drawing teachers, helpful books and videos to complement the lesson (or share where it originated from), and maybe a little more on other artists like in our past two weeks. So, lots of fun links are coming.
Question: Is there something YOU would like to learn this week? I have left one day open for a GUT-member-request! Leave me a comment, and I’ll consider creating a lesson around your area of interest.
The FUN part.
Honestly, why draw if it’s not fun?
And yet, sometimes drawing is hard - or rather, it feels hard - like when we experience a gap between our experience level and what we want to create, or when judgment comes up. How can we keep drawing FUN, especially when challenging ourselves and learning new things?!) and whose expert opinion I included in a piece I did last year for The New York Times called “How to Have Fun Again.”
I asked Catherine for her professional opinion on Fun-Making, and she shared some helpful insights that I think could be useful in our daily drawings this week.
Catherine told me, “fun exists at the intersection of Playfulness, Connection and Flow.” That resonates a lot with my experience of the GUT.
“When we play, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We find ways to laugh. We get out of our own way and silence our inner critics. It is CRUCIAL to have fun,”
I find that when we draw in a way that releases perfectionism and judgement, we cultivate that kind of playfulness. Check.
How about Flow? According to Catherine, flow is “a state of total engagement, in which you are so engrossed in the activity at hand that you lose track of time.”1 Does that happen to you, GUT peeps? It does for me when I am able to protect my time. I find that when we set limits for our time (like we do with the ten minute timer) and let go of expectations, it’s easier to introduce the flow state. Check.
And connection? I mean, come on. This is the GUT. We are ALL about the community conversation and support and validation. We got connection covered. Check.
Ergo, GUT = FUN. CHECK!
Great. But to what end? How does something like the fun or drawing delights with the GUT promote wellbeing?
“Our brains naturally seek out things that cause anxiety and ear. They are looking for threats. It takes work to shift our brains focus away from fear and towards positive things. When we focus on delight [like the GUT did when you drew delights] we retrain our brains to focus on the positive… Drawing helps us imprint the delights more deeply. It helps us pay attention.”
And how about for those of us looking towards drawing to help us get back into our creativity and move away from our phones? How does delight and drawing and the GUT fit into that?
“We’re trying to fill a void with social media. We can turn to delight and use social media as a source of connection. Maybe there is such thing as “good social media” if it leads to authentic connection.”
I think she’s talking about us, DrawTogether Grown-Ups Table. :)
So now we know a little more about FUN, let’s keep that in mind as we move into the week ahead and try new challenges. Our goal this week is to learn new things about drawing every day while keeping it playful, flow, and connected. In other words, to have FUN.
Let’s do this.
Day 14. Let’s get weird.
Today we are going to try two mini-drawing exercises that will challenge us to draw in ways outside of our regular drawing behavior. They make it literally IMPOSSIBLE to do a “good drawing” - even more than blind contour! I promise these drawings - and how you make them - are going to seem WEIRD.
While these exercises have been done in classrooms around the world for generations, I am going to cite Lynda Barry as the inspiration for these two, and use some of her tricks to make them more FUN.
Lynda Barry aka “Professor Chewbacca”, aka “The Near Sighted Monkey”, is one of my all-time favorite artists/cartoonist/writers, and today, we’re lifting up her wisdom in a quest to move beyond that voice that says things need to be perfect. Lynda has written dozens of books, and every single one is wonderful. Today’s exercises come from her books Making Comics and Syllabus, both of which are full of helpful ideas for what to draw when your brain feels stuck and uncertain.
If you want to hear more from Lynda Barry on her philosophy and her practice, check out this video Lynda made with the folks at the MacArthur Foundation.
Alright, let’s get started with our first two lessons.