Painting & Drawing

You may already use paints, crayons or pencils to express your creativity. For many of us, opening a box of watercolours or picking up a crayon can be a daunting task. There might be an inner voice telling you that you “can’t draw.” Perhaps you have a paint set stashed away in a cupboard, waiting for the “right time” to try your hand at painting, or perhaps you’re afraid you’ll “waste” those paints if you try to use them …

How can we silence our inner critic and give ourselves permission to play? How can we free ourselves from judgement and let our creative expression unfold?

It might be timely to recall this quote by Chris Zydel:

The main thing I try to communicate … is that everyone is creative, that you don’t need to be taught to be creative, it’s hard-wired in us. If you hand a 4-year-old paper and crayons they won’t say, I’m sorry, I don’t have any talent.

~ (Chris Zydel, Arts & Healing Podcast, 2/6/2009)

Chris has many years’ experience as a creativity mentor and an expressive arts facilitator. Her workshops invite participants to tap into their intuition and devote themselves, “to the practice of entering into intimate communion with the inner world of your heart, your mind and spirit.” (Chris Zydel, Creative Juices Arts website)

Here’s a simple drawing activity that may help you to get started:

Move to Draw

In a podcast interview, Chris Zydel explained an exercise developed by therapist Natalie Rogers, which Rogers called The Creative Connection:

“It’s an exercise to music; move your hand holding a crayon to music. It helps you get into your body and can really help the creative process. Music helps to disconnect your critical mind. It also helps to engage the right brain, the intuitive part of the brain, non-logical, things that are not rational… so I get students to get into their bodies – that’s really where creative impulses come from. You don’t want to be thinking too much about what you’re doing; you don’t want to have a goal or a plan or have it all figured out.”

You will need a set of crayons and some large sheets of paper for this activity.

Find a time and a space in which you can dance and where you won’t be disturbed. Get out your crayons and paper. Secure your paper to a table or easel, if you have one. Set up your music: you may find that calm, meditative music (without lyrics) will help you access your inner world.

Dance around your space for a few minutes, responding to the music and moving your body freely in any way that feels comfortable (dance itself is a powerful form of self-expression).

When you feel ready, pick up your crayon, and start drawing. Use your whole arm to draw or doodle on the paper in time to the music. Feel the music as you create. It may take a few minutes and a few pieces of paper before you feel the music flowing through you, from your hand on to the paper. ENJOY!

This activity can free you up so that your drawing flows more easily. You can repeat the exercise using different kinds of music (e.g. jazz, classical, up-beat etc.) to see how your body responds to each and how the drawing flows.


Drawing Techniques and More for Beginners

  • If you’re a beginner, and you’d like some drawing tips and techniques, visit the Artists Network, where you can access a range of exercises to help you get started. You can also explore other painting and drawing media on the website
  • Read why Doodling is good for you and try Zentangling: Doodling Your Way to a More Mindful Life, by Cathy Malchiodi, Psychology Today
  • Draw a face with Australian artist Ben Quilty


Try some of these activities: