Looking for ways to be calmer, happier and more centered? The answer could lie in the pages of a sketchbook.
As someone who knows the positive effects drawing can bring to anyone's life, I'd like to share some reasons drawing is a great activity to promote relaxation and help you lead a happier life.
1. You'll reconnect with your playful spirit.
Many people drew and painted as kids, without worrying about talent or the quality of the final product. Reconnecting with that playful creative spirit is relaxing and liberating. Even if you haven't drawn since you were six, a few minutes a day drawing simple things around you can unleash a playful energy that can fill your whole day.
2. You'll amaze yourself.
Drawing isn't a mysterious matter of God-given talent. It just takes a few minutes of practice each day to make new connections in your brain and your body. I've discovered that keeping an illustrated journal helps me develop a creative habit that jump starts my drawing skills. And as your sketchbook fills with beautiful drawings, you become proud and eager to keep going.
3. You'll be able to control time.
Making art stops time. When you draw or paint what's around you, you focus and see it for what it is. Instead of living in a virtual world, you'll be present. Instead of all the things whirring in your head, you will be able to stop, to clear your mind, to take a deep breath and just be. You don't need a mantra or a guru. Or an app. Just a pen.
4. You'll tell your story.
Life is just a long succession of small epiphanies. You need to stop and seize them. By drawing the everyday things you encounter, you'll be making a record of what you're living through and what you are learning. A drawing and a sentence or two in a sketchbook turns those everyday moments into something significant. Over time, you'll build up a book of memories — a true record of what's important in your life.
5. You'll fight perfectionism.
Many people are tempted to avoid doing things they can't do well. But creativity is all about taking risks and doing new things — things that may not turn out exactly as we'd planned. Drawing can help you avoid the limitations of perfectionism and learn to roll with the punches. You learn to see "mistakes" as lessons and opportunities for improvisation. Often a wonky line or a splatter of ink can turn a sketch into an expressive work of art. Learn to let go, play and discover.
6. You'll reconnect with your inner child.
Draw with a child, and draw with crayons, tempera, pastels and finger paints. Interact with your drawing partner. Take requests. Tell a story and illustrate it as you go. Ask your kid to draw a crazy line and you add to it to make an elephant or a choo-choo or a ham sandwich. Scribble. Splatter. Play. For a few minutes, let it go and be a child.
7. You'll realize the world isn't perfect.
But it's beautiful. And the most beautiful things have character and experience built into them. There's a lot to learn and appreciate in a chipped mug, a half-eaten apple, the tiny lines in the leather of your dashboard. Making art will show you how much you already have. Your real treasures. A brand-new Maserati is a lot less beautiful to draw than a rusty old pickup.
8. You'll create memories.
When you draw, you enhance your memory. By slowing down and observing carefully, you create deeper and more vivid records of everything that surrounds you. Make drawing a habit, and your ability to summon up the past and enjoy it once again will grow by leaps and bounds.
9. You'll get rid of boredom.
You will never be bored or waste time again. Every day is full of those moments between activities. Waiting in the doctor's office, watching mindless TV. Instead of reading tweets on your phone, you'll make a piece of art. Every minute of your day counts. Make it worthwhile.
10. You'll share your art.
At my drawing school, we encourage students to post their work online. At first that can seem daunting, trotting out your work for strangers to comment on. But if you find a supportive and encouraging community, your incentive to draw grows. And the connections you form with others on the same journey of discovery are deep and profound. Draw with your friends. Draw your friends. Share your sketchbook and the stories of your life. What could be more beautiful?
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