Why Should I Draw?

    Many people, even those who like drawing, have a hard time giving permission to themselves to draw.  Why?  Possibly because society has left us with the impression that drawing is only an extracurricular activity, it is just for fun, it’s not particularly productive, etc.   This has been especially true in our educational system.  The good news is that this concept is changing…. one reason is because our world is changing so rapidly, especially in the electronic and computer world.  You know the drill:  you buy a new device today and tomorrow it’s obsolete because something new has taken its place.    Employers in the 21st century now value CREATIVE THINKERS for their future employees.   They actively search for people who have had classes in the  arts because these individuals THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.  These people tend to come up with new and innovative ways to communicate and be productive.  Persons who have backgrounds in the arts  seem to be able to get inside people’s heads and figure out ways to embrace new technology and make things happen that will profit their business.   Artists are problem solvers and dream makers.


   Art is about making an idea become a reality.  There isn’t a single crafted or manufactured object that didn’t pass through an artist’s hands.  That is art’s life skill.  It applies to everything from the telling of a story, to the functioning of a home, to the building of a business.  Every business, large or small, employs artists to design logos, build websites, visualize and advertise products, communicate their messages, and create a brand. *

   Art is a universal language.  Human history is recorded via pottery, hieroglyphs, painting, and architecture.  Our future is planned with diagrams, schematics, floor plans, and animatics.*

   Art delivers us safely to our destinations everyday.  Road signs tell us where and when to turn safely.  We know where to enter and exit motels, libraries, hospitals, etc.   Did you ever wonder why certain signs are red, or green, or yellow?  That is the brainstorm of an artist.*

   The books, magazines, and websites we read were all designed by artists.  Every school, every building, was created by an architect’s pencil.  Clothing, cars, furniture, bridges, and even the space shuttle began their existence as drawings on a piece of paper.*

  Visual art shares something with every other language:  it has a grammar and a vital set of skills that can be taught to any student.*

   You don’t have to become an artist just because you have taken some art classes.  I took lots of math classes, but I’m not a mathematician.  (but I’m so glad I can do math!  It has come in handy).  I took history but I’m not a historian (but I’m so glad I know what the history channel is referring to, and how it relates to me).   I took physical science (that’s a scary thought!) but I’m not a scientist.  (I’m still working on the relevancy of this one!)  So, is there a point here?

  Sketching and drawing can be, and is fun, but it also has value in our world today.  So go ahead: if you want to draw, just do it.
Your sketchbook, or visual journal, is yours to do with as you please.  You can share it, or not.  You can doodle, or create more serious stuff.  And even if it “never amounts to anything”, when you leave the planet, you have left a piece of yourself behind.   After all, it’s not what you take with you, but what you leave behind that matters.  (right?)

If you want to further explore the importance of art and drawing, I would like to suggest the book  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink.  It’s a good read, and an eye opener.

If you have your own thoughts, comments, or experiences about this topic to share, I would love to hear them. God bless!

*From an article by Rama Hughes, titled On Art and Education, SchoolArts magazine, January, 2011.

An Illustrated Life: How Do I Start??

If you are interested in drawing, chances are you probably have been doing it all along (and maybe not when you were supposed to!) Maybe you are a doodler, which is not a bad thing. Studies support the idea that doodlers who doodle on their paper or program while listening to a speaker tend to retain more information than those who do not. As a teacher, I have received many math or English papers with lots of ornate and not so ornate drawings of little characters and other things in the margins. Some were even in color!

The book An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory is nothing more than a peek into a bunch of artists’ sketchbooks. They are all very different from each other, but they all share some common ground:

1. They all keep more than one sketchbook. Some of the sketchbooks are for ideas for their work as illustrators, and some are for doodling.

2. They all suffer from the I can’t think of anything to draw syndrome from time to time. More often than you might think!

3. Each one tends to draw with his/her preferred medium: usually it is pens, markers, colored pencils, or watercolors.

4. They all draw a variety of subject matter, but tend to draw what he/she likes the most. (For example, some prefer to draw cars, some prefer buildings, etc.).

5. They all take a sketchbook with them when they travel (not just a vacation trip but everyday trips such as to an airport, bus station, doctor appointment,etc. While waiting, these people draw instead of reading trashy magazines.)

6. Almost all of them keep a visual journal of their life. (some resemble a comic book)

7. None of them draw on loose paper: it’s always in some type of sketchbook.

8. All of them value their sketchbooks and never throw them away.

9. Some sketchbooks are kept private, and some are not.

10. They all experience times when they get away from their drawing, (life happens) but eventually get back to it.

So Are You Ready To Resurrect your Doodling Habit? If so, here are some helpful hints:

1. Buy a quality sketchbook: Hobby Lobby, Michaels, even office supply stores have been known to carry them.

2. Get a copy of An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory. Your local library may have it. There is something about looking at other people’s drawings that gets your creative juices flowing.

3. Illustration Friday is a website that provides sketchbook prompts every Friday, of course! This might help you get started. There are probably many other ones like it, if you do a Google search.

4. Try and set aside a time everyday to draw: it doesn’t have to be an hour. It can be five or ten minutes. What matters is creating the habit to do it. And you can work on the same drawing for several weeks if you want. If you can’t do it every day, try every Friday! Whatever works for you.

5. Expect to become braindead at times: it’s normal! Why do you think they created sketchbook prompts?? Your sense of humor will come in handy.

6. Give Yourself Permission to Draw! Drawing is more productive than watching TV, right!?

So what do you think? Are you ready to give drawing a try?