The “How to Draw” Series, Part Five: Resistance and Timed Drawings


Today’s drawing lesson at the end of the post is called “Timed Drawings,” and it is one of those lessons that you are probably going to read and think, “Ok, I get it, but I don’t need to actually try doing that lesson, because reading it is enough.  I get the point.” 

This lesson is a little bit annoying, and you’ll have to set some time aside to do it.  You may even need to do a little bit today, a little more tomorrow, etc. 

But I strongly encourage that you do it because you will learn from it and grow as an artist. 

I find that I often resist doing the things that I know, deep down, I will learn from the most.  The first time I read The Artist’s Way (written by Julia Cameron and highly recommended if you haven’t heard of it), for example, I just flat out read the book.  It is a book full of exercises and suggestions of things to do to lead a more creative life.  I didn’t do any of the exercises.  I didn’t do morning pages.  I didn’t go on artist dates.  I just read the book cover to cover thinking that I didn’t actually need to do any of those things, instead I could just read about them, and that would be as good as doing them.

Boy, was I wrong.

The second time I read the book, I actually did most of the activities she described in the book, and I took the time to go on artist dates and do my morning pages every morning.  I learned a lot and grew as an artist and as a person by actually doing what the book suggested.  I still go on artist dates from time to time nowadays, and instead of doing morning pages, I do night pages, since that is when I feel they benefit me the most.

Maybe you find yourself putting a resistance up to some of these drawing lessons. 

Maybe you think you don’t “know enough” about drawing, so you shouldn’t try… Well, we are just learning and experimenting here; you don’t have to know anything to start and make an attempt.

Or maybe you are thinking, I have an MFA in art, so I don’t need drawing exercises.  Keep in mind that it is always good to brush up on your skills and re-learn something you already know. 

Or maybe you’re just not in the mood.  That’s okay too.  Maybe you will bookmark these exercises and come back to them later.

Whatever you decide to do, thanks for stopping by!  I am glad you are here reading this.

Okay, now, after all that buildup… Here is the lesson:

Timed Drawings

Pick a subject, any subject.  It can be a photo of something you want to draw or an object you want to draw.  Either one is fine.  Here is what I chose to draw:
 It's a weird wooden found object...reminds me of some of Jonathan Adler's work.

Grab your sketchbook or some paper and a pencil.  You will also need a timer or stopwatch of some sort.  (There’s probably one on your phone.)

Here’s what you’re going to do:  Set your timer for 30 seconds, and draw your object completely before the buzzer goes off.  Remember what I talked about before in regards to the inner critic in this post: don’t judge yourself too harshly.  These are just exercises, learning experiences, not masterworks or anything like that.  Don’t worry so much about the outcome, and instead, focus on the task at hand.  Ok, quick, now do your 30 second drawing.  Here’s what mine looked like:

Not a great drawing, but I was able to get the proportions down along with a few details.

Now set your timer for 5 minutes, and draw the same object again, this time taking a lot more time to do the drawing.  Here is how mine turned out:

I was able to capture a lot more detail than in the first drawing, however I did not have time for shading.

Now draw the same object for 10 seconds.  Then for 10 minutes. 

Try again, and do a one minute drawing, then perhaps a one hour drawing. 

What will happen as you make these drawings is that you will be forced to zone in on the most important details when you do the fast drawings, and you will be forced to zone in on every little detail when you do the slow drawings.  Also, people who typically draw rather quickly (like me) will be forced to draw slower and perhaps will add in and see a lot more details than they did in a fast drawing.  And people who typically draw slow, detail-oriented drawings will be forced to do more gestural, less detailed drawings that get straight to the point.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s lesson.  Here’s to hoping you will also enjoy doing today’s lesson!

This post is part of the “How to Draw” Series, a free E-Course I offer on my blog with new lessons every Friday.  I create these totally free of charge in order to help get people making art and enjoying their creativity.  If you like these lessons, please leave a comment below or help me grow my audience by clicking the orange Stumble Upon icon below.   

Thanks so much for joining me!


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