Relax, it’s just a piece of paper

Drawing without purpose

Spend more than 30 seconds on the internet and someone will tell you how to monetise your skills and be better and more efficient. It’s exhausting. So it’s not surprising that many people are looking for hobbies away from screens. Pottery, crochet and sewing are having a moment. But they all involve equipment and basic skills. What I love about drawing is that everyone can do it. Anyone who can pick up a pencil can draw.

But I Can’t Draw

A lot of adults will tell you they can’t draw. As if it’s a magic power that some of us have and some of us don’t. But almost everyone can hold a pencil and make a mark on a piece of paper. Betty Edwards, in ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ makes the point that everyone who learns to write with a pen has an individual handwriting style that develops over time with age and practice. My dad used to say he couldn’t draw but I remember his handwriting because it was so beautiful it was like calligraphy.

It’s all yours

One of the best things about drawing is that you can do it alone. You don’t have to share your work or have ambitions to sell it. It’s personal and it’s between you and the piece of paper. I have a shelf filled with old sketchbooks. I wish I could call them visual diaries but they are a shambles, disorganised and often undated. In the front of them there are drawings of children at various stages. In the back of almost every one of them though are children’s drawings marking times when we were on long journeys or waiting at a sporting event. It’s not a perfectly curated set of memories but it shows how the kids have grown up with drawing as if it’s as natural as breathing. They are adults now, and working towards very different careers, but all of them can be found sitting and drawing for relaxation or to visualise ideas.

Give it away, even if you don’t think it’s great.

A friend reminded me the other day that I had done a watercolour sketch of her daughter when we were on a camping trip about 100 years ago. She said her daughter still has the sketch on her bedroom wall. There are a few people who have kept my drawings dotted around the world. I’ll remember this when I’m stuck in feeling like I’m not good enough or haven’t yet achieved my ‘goals’. I also have a sketch of me that was drawn my a friend (artist Kate Pettitt) in 1988 when we both in high school, and I love it to bits. Drawing connects people in the best ways.


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