Finding the time – how I doubled my drawing practice (video)

So you’re struggling to put in the hours each week training your drawing – this is a very common problem I have been having too. This is an approach that has worked for me to find extra dollops of practice time everyday.

Check out the video, or we’ve written it out below. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up to our newsletter below the article for regular life drawing tips.


Step one: Figure out if you have the time in your life

First lets think over the point of drawing training. It’s fun, but also it would be great to be great at drawing, a bit like your favourite artists are, but with your own style.

For me I love Ryan Woodward’s gesture drawings, or Henry Yan’s charcoal, or lovelifedrawing’s own Mayko and her powerful pastel figures.

Even if you will have your own style, it’s great to see what is possible and aspire to it. (Used with Henry Yan’s permission)

It’s a long path, but go down it far enough, and you’ll find your own version of that. How important is progressing on that path to you? How cool would it be to see things that way, to be able to capture things on paper that way, and make the viewers happy, or sad, or just mesmerised that way?

Another of Mayko’s pastel figures – using foreshortening to create drama

Now, lets think back over the week. There might be time spent on stuff that’s just more important than the drawing. What that is depends on you and your priorities. It could be family time, giving love to your loved ones. Work time where you make the money that’s needed for shelter, food, and other essentials. Or time spent keeping healthy.


    The big mistake that led to all my other mistakes

But was there some unimportant time? I confess to having quite a bit in my life! Time spent on things less important than becoming great at drawing. For me, it’s a little too much time with Netflix or in Wikipedia blackholes, or worrying about things that ultimately don’t matter.

The point of this video is not to judge what’s important and what isn’t, the point is just to check if there are things taking up time that are less important than becoming a good artist.

So if you think back through the last 7 days. Did you have that time? If yes, we now have this bag of time that can be reallocated to drawing. But that’s a lot easier said than done.

Step 2: Switching bad time to drawing time

Those lazy or negative activities we’re giving time to are so attractive, especially after a tiring day. They give some very short-term reward, a bit like eating some chocolate. Drawing training can be hard though, a bit like choosing a salad. It’s not easy, not passive, and the rewards are very long-term. Sometimes, it’s can feel hard to even see that the goal – being great at drawing – is out there for us.

So in the moment, the easy option with the short-term upside is going to win out. Ok so when we’re feeling tired, it’s hard to convince ourselves to do extra drawing practice. What can we do? Make drawing training appealing to the laziest versions of ourselves.

Create super easy, fun and relaxed drawing sessions. After a hard day of work… you want to do these sessions as much as turn on the telly. Here’s the rules for these sessions:

  1. You don’t need to achieve a certain quality of drawing in these sessions. The drawings can be absolutely awful. You are NOT ALLOWED to judge your drawings if they are bad. If they’re good, you can pat yourself on the back. If they are rubbish, you can’t even think that they’re rubbish.
  2. You can draw only things you want to draw. If you just want to draw monsters falling from the sky, so be it.
  3. You don’t need to finish your drawings. If you get bored and want to move it, that’s ok. Lots of bad habits in these drawing sessions!
  4. You don’t have to leave your comfort zone if you don’t want – you can use your favourite materials, your usual methods etc. We normally encourage you to broaden your drawing horizons, but that’s not what these sessions are about (unless you feel like it).
  5. You can play your favourite podcast, music, radio station, standup special, audiobook (anything that’s mainly audio).
  6. You don’t need to worry about using up paper and materials on rubbish drawings (if you need to, get some cheaper stuff for these sessions, or do them digitally. Or just draw over some newspapers – it’s decent paper and the text will be a cool looking background).
  7. You mustn’t feel bad at all for abiding by these rules, just feel great that you’re drawing.
  8. You can use whatever’s to hand. Just because you don’t have the recommended paper and right charcoal or the material you’re used to doesn’t matter. If you have biro and the back of an envelope, that’s good enough!

Now, obviously not all your drawing sessions can be like this. You need plenty of ‘deliberate practice’ sessions too, where you critique yourself, you leave your comfort zone and try new things, where you work on your technique, where you push through to properly finish your work, repeat and improve the same drawings and so on. But, realistically, in a lazy moment, lazy practice is the only drawing session you will actually do, and a drawing session like this is infinitely better than no drawing at all.

Sometimes, you’re going to end up getting into the drawing and turn it into high quality practice. But if not, doesn’t matter. The rules above remain in place. Be easy on yourself for this session.

Another little thing that has helped is to think of drawing practice like brushing my teeth. It is not something to fit in around other things. It’s not a choice made everyday, it is just a daily ritual, it happens everyday and I don’t even need to think about it.

If when you feel like you need a break, you find yourself breaking out your sketchpad for a lazy session because it’s that relaxed and easygoing, and you’re still doing your deliberate practice too, then it’s working.

I’d love to know if this works for you, or maybe you have another approach to increasing your drawing time so please let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to some up to our useful newsletter below!

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