How to draw every day? How to keep the habit of drawing daily with intent and intensity? I will show you every way I know how in this article.
The techniques below are not in any particular order. You can contribute to this list by contacting me at the end of the article.
Before we get into the list of things you can do to draw every day. It is worth mentioning that to improve faster, time should be split between first learning a specific drawing topic, and then through conscious effort applying what you learn through drawing.
Be assured, however, that just by drawing daily, compared to not drawing daily, you should notice steady improvement. Moreover, the disciplined practice is likely to carry over to other parts of your life.
If you can draw daily for 100 days, it is likely you can exercise daily for as many days, or commit to another activity important to you.
How to get better at drawing every day?
Drawing daily starts with removing barriers and planning ahead. You want to be in a place where most contingencies are covered so that you do not end up skipping any days in your drawing practice.
Without further delay, let’s direct our attention to all the tools available to us should we desire to acquire the discipline to draw daily. And be certain, that if our goal is Art Mastery, as indeed it is, we should absolutely desire to have that discipline.
Read on and I promise that you will be eager to get started with your daily drawing habit in no time.
1. Follow your passion, or draw in your comfort zone
This first one is simple. Humans tend to follow a path of least resistance. If you make your subject matter difficult to draw, or pick things to draw you are not interested in, it is likely that you will drop the habit of daily drawing soon enough.
It is also true that often times when we have specific goals to how and what we want to draw, we must get out of the comfort zone to learn to draw that thing.
Gauge your practice accordingly. Draw outside of your comfort zone when you can, but when things get difficult and you feel like you really don’t want to pick up that pencil, switch to something you love to draw instead.
Especially when days get difficult, make it easy on yourself to get through the drawing part of the day. Next day, regroup and re-access.
2. Participate in weekly live drawing
This one may depend on where you live. Many colleges and universities run weekly live figure drawing sessions for the general public. Check with a school near you. The place to check would be to contact the Fine Arts department at the school.
Sometimes these drawing sessions are run by art clubs at the school. They are usually at night and can be free or have a price of admission.
Drawing from a live figure will improve your skills faster in most cases. Attending a live drawing session will take care of one drawing day of the week.
Often the energy you get from drawing live with others will carry over to the rest of the week. You will also meet other artists to help stay motivated.
3. Make friends with other artists
When we spend time with people with similar interests, we tend to improve our proficiency in that interest and motivate each other.
Attend a live drawing session (see 2 above), and mention to other attendees that you intend on keeping a daily habit and that you are just getting started at drawing daily. See where the conversation leads you.
4. Remove all barriers
Ruthlessly remove barriers. They are standing between you now and the future you who can draw much better!
My sketchbook, pencil, and eraser are bundled up in one small carrying pouch that I always carry with me in my backpack. It is everything I need to start drawing quickly in one place.
Think about what hinders your drawing practice. Is it time? So schedule ahead. Do you never have the right drawing tools with you? So carry them everywhere you go. Determine the time and place. Remove anything that may stop you from being on your way to a successful drawing session that day.
5. Use a personal pep talk as a trigger
Find what gets you to draw through experimentation. If you tell yourself “if I just sit around and do nothing, or spend time on other things, I will never get as good as I want to get” will that help you get started?
Find what type of pep talk works on you, and use it anytime you need help getting started.
6. String as many days together as you can
String together as many days as you can drawing every day. Keep track of how many days in a row you can draw before the string breaks. Work towards breaking your record each time.
The longer the string, the less likely you are to miss a day because you will want to stay away from breaking the string and starting over.
You can download a PDF Draw Daily Counter at the end of this post.
7. Watch out for burnout
If you feel burnt out, perhaps you should spend a shorter period of time drawing that day, set an easy goal for the day, or for the next couple of days. Sketch something you aren’t used to that day. If you draw portraits, work on a small landscape. Clear your mind by taking a walk outside.
Don’t spend ten hours drawing the day you feel like you just had enough! Avoiding burnout involves understanding yourself and your limits – you need to push hard to improve in drawing, but sometimes too much is really too much.
8. Remind yourself what learning to draw is really about
Learning to draw well is a marathon and not a sprint. Treat it accordingly. It is better to do a little every day, than a lot once a week.
Prepare for the long road of slow progress. We can make sure to continue making progress by drawing daily.
9. Trick yourself into starting
Many times, just starting to draw is the real barrier. Say to yourself that you will just do two or three small gesture drawings for the day at five minutes each.
Usually, you will end up doing a few more after pushing through that barrier of starting the first drawing.
10. Force yourself into a habit
Force yourself to draw long enough that it becomes a habit. For most people, a habit is usually formed in about two months.
Drawing only when inspiration comes will not get you anywhere. More often then not, inspiration will come if you draw every day. Start drawing and don’t wait for it.
All highly skilled artists I ever encountered know how to get into a grove before inspiration hits them, or how to inspire themselves to produce art.
More often than not, getting into that inspired mode is tied to the act of creation and drawing itself. Draw first, don’t wait for inspiration. Draw and it will find you.
11. Plan ahead and create a schedule
Plan out when and where and with what tools you will draw for the week or month ahead of time.
12. Set a daily time and create a trigger
Set a daily time you will begin your drawing session. If it is the same every day, it is predictable. If it is predictable, it is easier to keep that time free from other tasks.
Create a mind trigger for your drawing session. Let’s say you draw at 8 PM daily, and you end eating dinner around that time. A trigger could be being done with dinner. If you keep it up, you will associate the end of dinner with the beginning of your drawing practice for the day.
A trigger could be an alarm clock going off, or drinking a cold glass of water, or whatever you want it to be. Follow up your trigger with the action of drawing every time and watch your mind expect to draw when a trigger is activated.
13. Slowly increase drawing time daily
Don’t start daily drawing with the goal of practicing for four or six hours every day. That is a long time and a big commitment. It is difficult to keep the focus on drawing through that time without some experience.
Start with shorter sessions and increase the time as you get better at staying focused.
14. Publicly commit to drawing every day
When we tell others that we will do something, we are a lot more likely to it. You can tell your friends or family, or commit publicly through social media. If you share your work, you may see people cheer you on as you work through your commitment.
15. Create workable limitations
Remove certain options from your drawing practice if you know they will be a hindrance ahead of time.
Pick a format, a media, or specific size of canvas, a theme you want to focus on, and really zone in on it.
When the time comes to draw, make sure you do not have to think twice about what you will be drawing that day. Use limitations to narrow down your objective ahead of time. When it is time to draw, there should be the least amount of friction to do so.
16. Set a time constraint
This is only useful if you cannot get yourself to keep the habit.
If spending hours drawing sounds like a barrier to even starting, you may want to rethink learning how to draw at this point.
If you thought about it and still want to do it. You can set a time limit. This way you will know that you will be done in one hour, or whatever time you set for yourself.
17. Join a drawing challenge
Start a challenge with your friends to draw daily. Create a prize for whoever can string together more drawings days. You can also join a drawing challenge on social media.
See number 34 below for a month-long drawing challenge that is held in October every year.
18. Watch something in the background
Have TV on in the background. Most artists I talk to are able to do some portion of their work and listen or partially watch their favorite shows. This may or may not be for you, test and use depending on your comfort level.
19. Take an art class
Take an art class that forces a specific schedule, or provides assignments daily.
20. Wake up earlier to draw daily
Wake up early enough that nothing else is scheduled. If you cannot fit drawing into your schedule, wake up at 5 AM and draw for an hour. If you are like most people, nothing else is happening at 5 AM. This means you can spend time drawing.
For those of you that like to stay up at night, I tested this many times and – believe me – after a few days your body will fall in line and you will begin to fall asleep earlier.
21. Remember your reasons for drawing every day in the first place
Answer these questions every time you feel like slacking off.
- What are your reasons to draw?
- Why do you want to learn to draw?
- What is your WHY?
- What motivates you, what moves you?
- How strong is that feeling?
22. Write about drawing daily
Write down your goal as an affirmation, for example: “I am drawing daily and I will improve every day until I reach my goal”.
An affirmation is written in a way that sounds as if you are already succeeding at whatever you are writing about.
Write this down every morning as you wake as a promise to yourself to complete your drawing before the day ends.
23. Check off your progress
Once you complete drawing practice for the day, write it down. There is a pdf template at the end of this article to markdown your progress!
24. Work through art tutorials
Work through an art drawing book or tutorials. Pick up an art book and do exercises from it daily. I recommend Andrew Loomis books.
Or use tutorials on this site. Go through a bit every day. This is a good way to keep a habit and improve your knowledge.
25. Buy new art tools
If things get boring for you, buy that new pencil set you always wanted. New tools often make things interesting. You can even set buying a new pen or pencil as a reward for a consistent period of drawing.
If you were able to string together 30 days of drawing, reward yourself with whatever you were looking forward to.
26. Don’t let mistakes stop you
Do not let mistakes stop you. Fail forward fast instead.
An great artist once told me that every artist has a few thousand bad drawings in them. However, once you get through these bad drawings, they are gone forever.
Strive to make mistakes early on and learn from them. Go for quantity first.
If you are learning to draw the human face, you will learn faster if you draw a hundred faces and make mistakes in each, than if you draw only two as perfectly as you can.
27. Find what makes it fun for you
Figure out what is fun about drawing for you, and think of ways to bring that into your future drawing practice.
For me, I love the act of creation, filling up a blank canvas, and creating a physical manifestation of my thoughts on canvas!
28. Find an artist friend who will challenge you
Friends who are as passionate about art as you are can help and challenge you on your quest to draw every day. Take an art class or participate in an event with other artists and make some good art friends.
29. Set a goal
Set a goal and break it down into increments.
Set one larger goal for drawing, let’s say completion of one hundred illustrations, and break it down into small mini-goals to reach each week or month.
30. Use a wearable reminder
Find a wearable reminder to draw. As an example: you can wear a bracelet on your left hand, and if you skip a drawing day switch it to your right. Only switch it back to your left hand after you draw the next day. The goal is to never let the bracelet leave your left hand.
31. Want it enough!
This is probably the most important item on the list. How much do you want it? Not much more to say here.
32. Learn to draw sequentially
Progress will be more visible if you focus on drawing the same thing daily.
This means that if I was learning to draw a portrait and a landscape and a car.
In most cases, I would see more progress in each if I spent a whole month studying everything about portraits and drawing them, then another month studying and drawing landscapes, then another studying and drawing cars.
Study and draw one thing at a time. If I had to learn all three at the same time, it would be overwhelming and more difficult. It could be more difficult to notice any progress, which in turn could hinder your will to continue to draw.
Find a topic and really explore and study it before moving on.
33. Only access your favorite music or show while you draw
You know that show you love to watch? Your favorite music, or youtube channel? Promise yourself that they can only be accessible to you when you are drawing or sketching.
Making real fast progress often means being very present when drawing. Which in turn means turning the TV off. However, if nothing else works for you, starting to draw while you watch that show you want to watch, could be a good way to get started.
34. Participate in the Inktober challenge
Every day for the month of October anyone participating in the challenge creates an ink drawing and posts it online. Thousands of artists participate from all over the world on social media.
35. Get into a routine
We covered some of this above. Set the same time a day. Draw at the same place. Have the same tools with you and design the same steps to getting to draw. You get tea (or coffee), you sit at the desk, you take out your sketching pad, you sharpen your pencil, then you draw – or whatever the sequence is for you.
Find steps that work for you, and then repeat them daily. Work on eliminating anything that stands in the way of repeating your steps.
Congratulations, you made it to the end of this article! Grab the daily drawing counter below. The Draw Daily Counter is part of an artist workbook I created for beginning artists. You can subscribe to my newsletter and download the entire Artist Workbook for free here.
Have you found other ways to motivate yourself to draw daily? Write to Gvaat and he may include it in this article! You can provide your feedback here.