Build a gentle drawing habit to appreciate life’s small joys…Michael Nobbs discovers the powers of creativity…
Drawing has made my life a little better. Maybe it can make yours a little better too.
Back at the end of the 1990s I was diagnosed with ME/CFS and was forced to stop what had turned into an increasingly frantic attempt at building a career as a writer and publisher. For a few years after the diagnosis I basically took to my bed, slowing my life right down, as I began to try to rebuild my health.
Before my life slowed to almost a halt I had been someone who loved the tools of the artist—their pens and their sketchbooks. I’d almost bought enough to open my own stationers; however, since my early teens I’d never found the time to actually do anything with them.
Largely bedridden, that began to change. I was introduced to wonderful online artists like Danny Gregory and Keri Smith, who made drawing part of their day. I was encouraged by reading Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way, to make some tentative marks in my collection of hitherto blank sketchbooks. Unable to go far I began to make “bad” drawings of the things around me.
Slowly, ever so slowly, my confidence began to grow and it soon became second nature to reach for my sketchbook in the morning and make a quick drawing of my mug of tea, my breakfast or the book I was reading. The everyday and ordinary things around me began to take on a new vibrancy.
Drawing showed me that by slowing down and looking at the things around me, really looking at them, I began to appreciate and enjoy my life more. I also began to feel better.
Whilst I still struggle with my health, making small manageable drawings has shown me that I don’t need to be limited by my limits. Over the last decade and a half I have built a creative career by taking daily small steps.
Obviously there’s no need to wait until you’re ill to start to draw! Why not pick up a pen and a piece of paper and try drawing the first thing you see. Tomorrow do the same. You may be surprised where this little habit takes you and how different the world starts to look.
Some tips to start drawing
1. Just do it. Pick up a pen and find a piece of paper and draw the first thing you see.
2. Spend some time looking closely at the thing you’ve chosen to draw. Most people when they haven’t drawn for a long time tend to draw what they think they see rather than what they are looking at.
3. Try drawing without looking at the paper, just let your eye follow the edges of the thing you’re drawing and let you pen follow what your eye is seeing.
4. It is the process of drawing NOT the finished drawing that’s important. Let yourself enjoy the process!
5. Draw a little everyday.
Michael Nobbs is a full-time artist, blogger and tea drinker (not necessarily in that order). He is author of the popular blog, Sustainably Creative and writes, tweets and podcasts about drawing and trying to keep things simple. In the late 1990s he was diagnosed with ME/CFS and over the last decade and a half he has learnt a lot about sustaining a creative career with limited energy. His new book, Drawing Your Life (made one page at a time!) was be published by Penguin/Perigee Books on 5th March.