It’s been over a year since I first started learning how to draw using Skillshare videos and I consistently have mental blocks when it comes to deciding what to draw. After over 100 videos, you start to notice most illustrators would advice people to find inspirations from surroundings; the flowers in the garden, a coffee cup on the table or a scene from the car ride. That’s one piece of advice that I’ve had difficulty mastering since I found myself uninspired to draw things I see. Instead, I spend most of my efforts attempting to come up with original ideas, which has proven to be extremely difficult. It feels like the deliberateness of trying to generate ideas only makes it harder for fresh ideas to arise.
A week ago, I decided to experiment with drawing on intuition. Instead of trying to visualize what I want to draw, I would try to surrender to my feelings and let it lead the way for strokes on paper. I chose black ink pen and a sketchbook to be my primary medium and used color pencils where I’d add hints of color. Having tried various mediums of arts and crafts, drawing with a black ink pen has become one of my most favorite. I enjoy the clean lines and since there’s no option to erase, it encourages you to be more confident with each mark. When you do make a mistake, it allows your imagination to transform what you thought were oops into something you can embrace as part of your unique expression.
Here’s what happened during almost a week of drawing on intuition:
I started with drawing faces of girls. I went through 100 different versions varying the hair, nose, eyes and shape of face. As I was wrapping up at 2AM, I decided to turn to a clean page and make my last drawing on the center of the page. That last image wasn’t perfect but it became my most favorite and paved way for what I’ve been searching for, a style that aligns with my personality and spirit.
It was a tough start as I caught myself stuck and resorting to thinking about what to draw. I spent the first 5 minutes letting ideas out as a warm up. Whenever a fresh direction came up, I would reset onto a new page and begin to follow my hands. I’d surrender to how I was feeling for where each stroke should go. Like the first night, my last drawing centered on a new page was the one that aligned authentically with my voice.
Repeating the same process of focusing on my feelings and letting it lead the way of my drawings, I ended here.
Fast forward to the sixth day of practice, I suddenly found myself getting better at tapping into my feelings and flowing with the process without any deliberate thoughts about what I should be doing next. Ideas just came naturally when I surrendered. As I was coloring the tree like object, I didn’t attempt to follow the lines. Having the hands do its work put me in the zone of a five year old, something that I’ve never experienced in my drawing practice. In that moment, a flash of thought reminded me that at five years old, we didn’t need to focus on perfecting a fine motor skill by staying within the lines. Art was free flowing and an honest expression of what we felt in the moment.
Another liberating moment came when I found my intuition came into conflict with my thoughts. This happened as a sudden urge to scribble over things emerged as I was finalizing the drawing with color. I paused and hesitated as in any normal situation, I would’ve been afraid to screw up a piece I’ve invested a lot of time on and was happy about. However, since the exercise was about intuition, I decided to go for it. After the big round scribbles, my mind flowed to write the word FREE, followed by the word Be and ended with the individual letters filling all over the page.
A week of this process has in its own way evolved into art therapy leading to spark of insights on how much we’ve lost when it comes to tuning into our creativity and imagination. We have become accustomed to the standards set by society, spending more time trying to be right than being authentic. Our mature prefrontal cortex is getting in the way of our intuition and creativity!
This process has also taught me to reframe what we might believe as our shortcomings so we can explore and discover a path that aligns with our voice, personality and method of expression. I firmly believe that no matter inside or outside of the lines, your art is beautiful when it comes from your heart. You’ll know it when you realize you, alone, being moved by it is enough.
A life observer and maker passionate about inspiring you to live out your creative self.