Drawings and other art have always been a way to express concepts, ideas, and emotions.
We have literally used drawing for many thousands of years to depict our culture, history, societies, and nature around us.
The oldest known cave painting is estimated to be more than 44,000 years old!
Whether it’s love, joy, or grief, and hopelessness, all of these emotions can be expressed by picking up pen and paper.
But how do you actually express yourself through drawing?
It’s a little bit more complex than just “draw what you feel”, but it is not too complicated and it will all be explained below.
Engaging Your Emotions and the Process
Drawing can be a safe outlet for your emotions and a good way to vent or channel negative–or positive emotions–in the right way, using a creative process.
To start, get a sketchpad, printer paper, a drawing tablet, or anything you can draw on. Don’t get caught up on the resources you have available, as the next part is the most important.
Start by closing your eyes and feeling out how you are at that moment, and how you’ve been lately. Don’t resist anything that comes to your mind.
This is your private sanctum and you are free to explore and express whatever emotions you want. If you don’t want to show your drawing to anyone, then you don’t have to.
Once you have your emotions in order, then start. It doesn’t matter if your artistic skills are legitimately terrible because:
- art is subjective, and
- no one is judging or grading this.
All that matters is that you’re able to express yourself accurately and that you really get into it.
Don’t let anything distract you. Focus as much as you can and then move on to the next step.
Some basic ideas
- If you’re angry, maybe draw an explosion, or depict a fight or a destroyed building.
- Sadness could be shown by a void, or darkness, or a crying person.
- Happiness could be clouds, or a rainbow, or just something as simple as the color yellow.
Following Through and Finishing
Distractions will be easy to find.
Do you for example have a busy life, access to plenty of computer games or tv shows, or do you live with a lot of other people or animals?
You might even look for some of these distractions on purpose (knowingly or unknowingly) but try as well as you can to commit to following through with your drawing.
You started this for a reason, and you will want to get those emotions “out of you”, by putting it down on paper / digital canvas so you can reflect upon it externally from yourself (more on this below).
Don’t let anything distract you. Don’t check your phone unless it’s urgent, and don’t get up to do something unless you absolutely have to.
Stick around for at least fifteen or twenty minutes at the bare minimum, and finish the drawing even if it’s just a rough sketch and it didn’t really come out how you wanted.
Consider coloring it if you haven’t already, and really try to make sure that you expressed what you wanted to.
Don’t censor yourself and change something because you think it reveals something bad about yourself. Don’t stop or throw the drawing away because of minor mistakes, either. Improvement will come in time 🙂
Reflection and Post-Creation Thought
Once everything’s done, step back and think about it for a minute.
- What did you draw and why?
- How did it make you feel?
- Did you express what you wanted to and did it help?
- Would you change something or draw something else, if you had to do it again?
These (and other) questions will help you gain a greater understanding of why it was you wanted to do this in the first place, and what you got out of it.
Consider refining the piece further, or going back and doing some more drawing based on the same concept or emotion, or something similar. Engaging the same emotion again might also help you gain that understanding that you likely desire.
Once you’ve answered all of those questions, think a little more deeply about whether or not this helped you. Think about what you really got out of the experience.
The portion of time spent following the creation is almost as important as what conjured or inspired it, or the process of the creation itself.
Just like a writer editing their first draft or a sculptor changing a few details while they still can, that little bit of time following the drawing can help you a lot more than you may think, so it’s important to do it.
You can get a lot out of expressing yourself through drawing if you commit to it.
Don’t let mistakes stop you, and focus hard on what it was that drew you to the idea in the first place.
Go over what happened when it’s finished, and reflect on the emotions that made the creation happen and how you feel after the experience. Then, do it again.
It is not important how good your drawing looks, or how the colors complement each other, or any other number of real art critiquing points.
What is important is how you felt and how much better drawing that made you feel, no matter what brought it on in the first place.