You Don’t Need To Draw Daily To Be A Successful Artist
Draw every day without fail. Make sure you get it done. Don't miss a day. If you don't follow this advice, you will be left behind by other artists who will outwork and outsmart you.
This is one of the most common sentiments we hear from many artists online. But is it necessarily true?
On my blog, we try to dismantle myths around creativity that only hurt fellow artists.
If you are a hobbyist, drawing and painting are done for fun, and there is no pressure of deadlines, paying bills, grumpy clients, etc. But if you have other responsibilities and jobs along with an artistic hobby, there will be days when creating art will be difficult or impossible.
As a professional, the stakes of creating new and beautiful art are high. When you create art as a living, drawing is exhausting when you have spent the whole day doing it.
But when we get caught up with life, is it worth ruminating about our productivity?
Drawing every day can be good practice if you want to improve. It will teach you discipline and hard work. But is it truly the fastest way to improve? Is it healthy and sustainable?
Breaks are good for you
Don't feel guilty about taking a break if you are tired. Listen to your body and rest when you need it. Making a healthy meal at the end of your day, taking an exercise class, and spending time with family are also worthwhile activities. Most of us have been taught that feeling well-rested is a sign of being lazy. It's simply not true.
There is no point showing up to your drawing practice if you are frazzled, sleep-deprived and mentally fatigued. Research shows that taking breaks intentionally is one of the best ways to improve productivity.
Don't force yourself
Many artists attempt the drawing challenges of 100 heads, hands or feet. Some sail through, and others loath the experience. If you are not enjoying your drawing, you will not improve!
The whole reason most of us got into art is that we want to be able to create with joy. So, never forget, if you start to dislike doing a drawing challenge, you don’t have to do it just because everyone else is – you have the option to quit.
Practice with purpose
Drawing mindlessly will not make you a better artist even if you draw daily. Your art practice needs to be purposeful and systematic.
Deliberate practice requires focused attention towards improving a specific area of your artwork. Practising in this manner helps us maximise our potential no matter how little talent we innately have.
Aim for consistency
Try to draw as often as you can if drawing every day doesn't work for you. That might mean a few hours spread out over the week for some people. Make your schedule work for you. Of course, don't let weeks go by between practice sessions.
Try to turn it into a habit that you stick to, but you don't need to be rigid about it. It's okay to be imperfect and have a few bad days, but always return to it.
Drawing every day doesn't guarantee improvement
If you are busy moving from task to task, you miss the important introspection and planning phase of improvement. You need to create the space and time to reflect on your growth. You need to carve out the time to look at your drawings and ask yourself what you learned from these experiences. What could you have done better, and how do you plan to get there.
For an expert, drawing every day might not be a stretch because they have reached a certain level of skill that makes it easy. You might not be there yet, but hopefully, one day. Your personality (if you are a Highly Sensitive Person) might necessitate that you take more frequent breaks than your peers. That's okay too.
Pain in your shoulder or wrist might mean that you take a break. Pushing through the pain might end in a long-term injury, and we don't want that. The key is to understand your body and mind and pay attention to their needs as well.
Consequences of drawing daily
Let's remember that we are human, not machines. Drawing every day could hurt your fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders, back, etc. Artists need to make time for exercise and stretching, especially because our job tends to be sedentary.
Sitting for extended periods has been compared to smoking because it has detrimental effects on your health. Please be mindful of your body so that you can avoid permanent damage.
Don't compare yourself to others
We often learn about productivity and routines from people we follow online and in person. While it's good to aspire to be better than you are currently, it's harmful to try to copy other people's routines. Remember that your situation is unique and that other people's habits might not work for you. So don't try to fit yourself into someone else's box.
A few months ago, one of our cats got diagnosed with cancer. Taking care of him and ensuring that he had a joyful end of life experience was an important priority for me. It did mean that my productivity took a hit because I was busy cleaning and caring for him. I tried not to feel guilty about taking this time out of my usually packed schedule.
Likewise, you need to adapt and go with the flow when life complications arise. There's no point in feeling guilty about things out of our control. We don't need to make difficult situations worse with our guilt and anxiety around our productivity.
Every artist has their own journey. You can draw every day if you want to, but it is not always necessary. But you should also learn to recognise that feeling motivated to draw is a fleeting emotion. And sometimes, it might require discipline to keep going. You should challenge yourself and see how far you can go, but don't overdo it.
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