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Drawing is a powerful tool of communication. It helps build self-understanding and can boost mental health.
But our current focus on productivity, outcomes and “talent” has us thinking about it the wrong way. Too many believe the myth of “I can’t draw”, when in fact it’s a skill built through practice.
Dedicated practice is hard, however, if you’re constantly asking yourself: “What’s the point of drawing?”
We need to reframe our concept of what it means to draw, and why we should do it – especially if we think we can’t.
Devoting a little time to drawing each day may make you happier, more employable and sustainably productive.
New jobs are emerging all the time for visual thinkers who can translate complex information into easily understood visuals.
Big companies hire comic creators to document corporate meetings visually, so participants can track the flow of ideas in real-time. Cartoonists are paid to draft innovative, visual contracts for law firms.
Art-making can reduce anxiety, elevate mood, improve quality of life and promote general creativity. Art therapy has even been linked to reduced symptoms of distress and higher quality of life for cancer patients.
And it can help you enter a “flow state”, where self-consciousness disappears, focus sharpens, work comes easily to you and mental blockages seem to evaporate.
Cultivating a drawing habit means letting go of biases against drawing and against copying others to learn technique. Resisting the urge to critically compare your work to others’ is also important.
Most children don’t care about what’s considered “essential” to a functioning society. They draw instinctively and freely.
Part of the reason drawing rates are thought to be higher in Japan is their immersion in Manga (Japanese comics), a broadly popular and culturally important medium.
Unlike language, we consider it normal for people not to learn to draw, and consider those who do to be exceptional.
Without sufficient practise and exposure to an external system, a basic system persists despite arguably impoverished developmental conditions.
With regular practice, you may find yourself occasionally melting into states of “flow”, becoming wholly absorbed. A small, regular pocket of time to temporarily escape the busy world and enter a flow state via drawing may help you in other parts of your life.
Use simple tools that you’re comfortable with, whether it’s a ballpoint pen on post-it notes, pencil on paper, a dirty window, or a foggy mirror.
Times you’d typically be aimlessly scrolling on your phone are prime candidates for a quick sketch. Doodle when you’re on the phone, watching a movie, bored in a waiting room.
Together with mindful doodling, drawing from observation and memory form a holy trinity of sustainable proficiency
Solve the problem or leave the problem. But…… Do not live with the problem.
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