Drawing Exercises For The “But I’m Not An Artist” Artist


Fear is something that gets in the way of tons of things that we think about doing, whether it is in our personal lives, like, “I want to talk to that cute person, but I’m afraid they’ll reject me,” or our creative endeavors. The latter is much more strong because it’s not just an interaction that we can forget about… Being creative is an extension of ourselves.


The hangup.

Before we create something, we get committed to a vision in our minds of what something will be before we start doing it.
So, when it’s time to put pen to paper to get a drawing out…we have this block. A pre-built obstacle for ourselves.

We’re so connected to the end result that if it doesn’t start out being in line with that vision, we self-sabotage. We get afraid. We create this tension of self-criticism and -doubt. Often, it’s so crippling before we even start that we never begin.


The reality check.

This fear is strongest in people who don’t think of themselves as being an artist. When a voice in your head tells you: “I can’t draw. I can’t draw…” That’s fear talking. Everyone can draw because drawing isn’t so much an aptitude or an ability. It is a mindset. When we think that we’re not an artist, we’re subscribing to somebody else’s definition of what an artist is. We see the work of Rembrandt, Picasso, Banksy, Julian Schnabel, Daniel Clowes, Will Eisner… and think: “my work should be like that.” But the thing that we don’t give ourselves permission to be is our own definition of art. In that sense, by being your own definition of an artist, you are one already. You have a vision and you have the ability to make that into a reality.


The exercises.

So, how do you go about embracing art when you’re afraid? Or not “afraid” per se but like: “Umm, I can barely doodle, you can’t expect me to draw actual things!” Well to that, I say: let go of previous experiences of drawing and give this a go…



Here’s the first exercise that I’m going to teach you:

PHASE 1: what you’re going to do is start scribbling on paper. Draw lines and then start shaping those lines into loose shapes. It’s like a warm-up. After you get comfortable, start shaping your lines into letters. Then write some words. Play around with the style of the letters.

PHASE 2: Next, pick one power phrase like “super” or “awesome” or if you’re a massive Lady Gaga fan, “Gaga” and write it in different styles. Try rock and roll style, whatever you imagine rock and roll style to be. Then for another version: think like you’re doodling in a notebook in school and do bubble lettering. Start to see how you can take the same word and convey something different with the form and style. Play with spacing variations too… The letters can be closer together or wider apart.

Start feeling confident because this is tapping into your artfulness. Doing this allows you to create something with a distinct artistic style without psyching yourself out along the way. Notice how every iteration you’ve done has its own personality, its own shape, and its own way of communicating with your eye. This is something that you can connect with even more in our next exercise…



This is an exercise that I have students do in my class Make a Mini Comic

PHASE 1: I’m going to list a few items: box, CD, flower. And you’re going to draw them using the most basic ways of communicating them. Use the fewest lines possible to get what the item is across. Don’t get caught up with whether your lines are straight or if each one looks ”right”. (Hint: there is no right or wrong with this.)

PHASE 2: Now draw them different ways, like what you did with the word exercise, previously. Experiment. With the flower, for example: try leaves. Try it without leaves. Do thorns. Petals. No Petals. See how just focusing on communicating a different style makes a difference?

And that is what I want you to take away from this: art and drawing is something that communicates …Not much different than letters.

Keep this in mind anytime you go to draw: art is no different than handwriting as long as you approach it with the mindset to communicate.

Get out of the idea that it has to “look pretty” and just focus on bringing forth a communication and style that is expressive of your unique self (because no one’s style is the same and that’s a beautiful thing 😊) 


The badge.

As a fun treat for you, at the bottom of this post I made a little badge for you, for you to embrace your artfulness. Seriously, print out your badge, paste it on your favorite notebook, whatever you need to do to remind yourself: “I’m a real artist”. ‘Cause that’s who you are! And have fun with this you fabulous artist, you!


Click to download + print 😊

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