Over the last few months, I’ve been getting back into a daily drawing practice. There are a lot of reasons for this: one was the simple fact that I missed taking enough time each day to doodle and experiment with drawings. Some days (ok, most days), I feel like I’m juggling too much and don’t have time to sit down and draw for an hour or two. But the truth is, I have to make the time I need for this practice. That’s not always easy, but it’s a necessary part of my day.
Why is drawing so vital? My fledgling business is based in drawing–those prints and cards won’t draw themselves! But really, it’s much more than that. Taking time to draw each day has been a way to unwind and explore—and that balance is really important. Sometimes I feel so busy with other things that taking time “to explore” feels like too much of a luxury. But it’s that exploration that’s so vital to a creative project—it’s giving yourself permission to relax, and loosen up, and goof around, and maybe doodle some things you don’t typically draw. Sometimes it’s doodling patterns, or drawing some interesting shapes, or playing with a color palette that you don’t often use.
Some of my favorite drawings from the last year started as a goofy little doodle—something that I just started sketching out of the blue, as a way to relax and attempt something new. One of those drawings became the cockatoo pictured above. I don’t often use pink in my color palette, but that’s the way this one started. I played around with mark-making (this was drawn on my iPad) and found that it was easy to mimic a woodcut style by using special brushes. By the time I finished the drawing, I really wanted to carve this cockatoo into some wood panels and make it into a woodcut. (I think that’ll still happen in the coming months.)
A big part of my experimentation process is color. Sometimes I know in the beginning what the color palette of a print or drawing is going to be, but sometimes I like to test out new colors. This might sound silly, but sometimes I have to let myself loosen up and play in order to make variations of drawings in different color palettes. That’s what happened with this cockatoo, when I thought, Hey, Lauren, you never use gold tones. What happens if you make this cockatoo gold?
Answer: I actually liked it a lot more in gold. And it’s true, if you look through my whole Etsy shop, there aren’t many pieces in this color combo. But this piece ended up being one of my favorites, and I wouldn’t have even made it if I hadn’t (1) let myself sit down and draw a bird I hadn’t drawn before, and (2) taken time to recreate that drawing in several different colors.
Bonus: I liked this little gold cockatoo so much that I decided to use it for a postcard. I like to include a fun freebie card or postcard with each of my Etsy orders, and I wanted to use a new design, so this seemed like a perfect match. I had these postcards printed to test out a new paper (spoiler: it’s awesome) and now I’m excited to send little birds out with each order.
Sometimes, as creatives, I think we need reminders of why we need time to play, and why it’s so vital to who we are and how we get inspired. Sometimes I sit down to draw, and nothing really exciting comes from it. Sometimes I don’t like the drawings, and they get scrapped. But that’s okay. That’s part of the process, too. Not everything I make or draw is something I want to keep, but every drawing is worth the time because it gets my brain to go to the creative place, just for a little while. It’s a kind of workout, just like going for a jog or lifting some weights. It reminds me of the importance of this balance between work and play, and how each informs the other. I forget this sometimes, and forget the importance of taking this time for myself—even when it feels like I’m just goofing around or doodling. But sometimes, there’s a really successful drawing that’s especially rewarding and reminds me of exactly why this balance, this practice, is such a necessary part of my day.
I hope you’re able to take time to do the thing that brings you balance and joy, too—after such a challenging year, finding spaces for joy and balance seem more important than ever.
These little birdies are available as archival prints and greeting cards in my Etsy shop.