5 Ways To Beat “I Don’t Know What To Draw” Syndrome

1. Use your own photography as reference imagery.

What Is It? Most of us keep dozens—if not hundreds—of pictures stored away in our smart phones without ever doing much more with them besides flashing a few to a family member on holidays. Using your own photos for references are an amazing way to preserve your art as your own, and being able to continually enjoy the moments that may or may not end up stuffed away in a scrapbook. The greatest thing about this is that you can pull out the image anytime to start and stop drawing as you please. Plus: no copyright infringement!

How Will It Inspire Me? You usually only preserve images of the things that you love or find aesthetically pleasing, so picking even just one of your own pictures to draw should be especially easy. It’s also a great way to work on bettering your drawing of faces and the human form, as many of us photograph our loved ones on a regular basis.

What’s Next? 1) Choose another photo and draw some more! 2) Start taking more pictures with the intention of drawing the imagery. Who knows, you might even realize a love for photography!

Hint: Use the settings in your phone to disable automatic shut off so that you don’t have to keep taping the screen while you draw from your reference photo. Just make sure to re-enable it when you’re finished.

Draw From Photos.jpg

2. Participate in #DrawThisInYourStyle.

What Is It? Draw this in your style is a trending online movement where artists post their own original content and characters, in hopes that other artists will love it so much that they too will want to recreate the content or character with their own twist. Currently, there are 200,000+ results on Instagram for #DrawThisInYourStyle, so there is plenty of content (and characters) to pick from! These artists are lending their creativity to you, so you’re free to do with it as you please

How Will It Inspire Me? This challenge lets you create without having to make hard decisions. Of course, the real fun is not in copying, but altering, which means that you can change poses or facial expressions, for example, without needing to have “big” ideas. Plus, it lets you connect with new artists, which is a pretty awesome bonus!

What’s Next? Why, create your own something for #DrawThisInYourStyle, of course!

3. Compose Your Own Still Life

What Is It? Still life consists of drawing or painting inanimate objects, most commonly associated with fruit or flowers. But it does not have to be fruit or flowers, of course, which means it could be literally anything laying around your house! Your favorite mug next to a knickknack next to a rock from your yard: draw it! A pillow under a novel under an ink pen: draw it! Still life drawings are more challenging than drawing your own photographed images because your perspective can change, the lighting can change, and you’ll never be able to assemble the objects in the exact same way, so choose this option carefully.

How Will It Inspire Me? Being able to choose the objects that you will find the easiest (or hardest) to draw means that you can make the experience as enjoyable as you please in a way that best fits you.

What’s Next? Change your perspective! Stand over the still life subject, go to the other side of it, or even just rearrange the objects. Fully understanding perspective is one of the hardest things about drawing, and you’re seriously improving your ability by drawing something from multiple angles.

Still Life Art Supplies.jpg

4. Re-Draw Your Own Art

What Is It? This idea is very similar to #DrawThisInYourStyle, but gives you a lot more control over the art that you’re creating. Because you are redrawing your own art, you may feel more comfortable with altering more of the content, as it is your original creation, after all. Not only that, but redrawing your own art makes the content more marketable, if you are in fact creating in order sell.

How Will It Inspire Me? Redrawing your own art tends to make an artist realize how much they’ve actually improved their artistic skills. You’ll not only be creating something, but also proving to yourself the time you’ve invested in your artistic ability hasn’t be for naught. You might also discover a new-found love for the original piece.

What’s Next? Once you’ve realized that your abilities have improved in some areas, you may find that some areas could still use a little work. Try focusing on these less improved areas, whether it be shading, individual facial features, or understanding of perspective. Dont be afraid to redraw something that you’ve already redrawn before!

5. Self Portrait

What Is It? A drawing of yourself! You are the perfect subject because you’ve been looking at the subject your entire life. You also have complete ability of posing your model and know just where to find them when the drawing mood strikes! Several artists are well known for self portraits, and all you require is a drawing utensil and a mirror.

How Will It Inspire Me? Although not every artist wants to draw people, understanding human anatomy and facial structure will lend itself to understanding anatomy of animals as well. That being said, a lot of artists lean toward human beings as their main subject matter, and knowing the simplest form of your face will be useful when drawing any face in general. Not only that, but hey look: you’re a model now!

What’s Next? Your face can make some really great (and bizarre) expressions, so why not try out a few? You don’t have to draw the whole face to draw stretched lips around a smile or scrunched up nose. Focus on doing a few different expressions and you’ll soon have an entire page for future references.

Self Portrait as a Painter

Self Portrait of a Painter, oil on canvas, 65.1 cm x 50 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

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