Even though I always considered myself as a drawing artist, I recently found out that I actually hate to draw. There, I said it.

Ever since I remember I’ve been admiring people who draw out loud, and I wanted to learn how to produce images from my imagination onto paper, too, wanting to be as cool as them. So I practiced. I practiced a lot, and I’ve been drawing for years. And now I’m able to translate my ideas through a pen into a drawing rather well.

Yet it has never been easy and it’s never been fun. Whenever I take a pen into my hand and just want to draw for a drawing’s sake, I just can’t. The harder I force myself, the faster my inner canvas goes blank. Even doodling is annoyingly un-relaxing.

I strongly believe that each problem has a solution though. Over the years I was able to collect quite a few techniques to overcome that stuckness. Want to know?

  • Try to draw with your non-drawing hand.
    If your right-handed, use the left hand and if you draw with your left, use the right one.
  • Draw without looking at your sheet of paper, and let your eyes just follow the outlines of your model (whatever it is).
  • Change your point of view. Get a really weird perspective or turn your model upside-down, if possible.
  • Speed up. Draw faster. The faster you work, the less will your inner critic be able keep your pace and eventually shut up.
  • Work on as many sheets as possible at the same time.
  • Use a pen you can’t erase. Use your mistakes.
  • Try all of these techniques at once: Draw with your other hand without looking at your canvas while taking a handstand or so. (Seriously, don’t try this at home…) But you’ll get the point.

The idea behind all these techniques is to get things messy and playful, because play is the opposite of fear, and mostly it’s fear that keep us from doing what we really want, in this case drawing. At least I thought so.

A few weeks ago I went to a drawing class once more because I thought more practice is always good, and I’m still able to produce images that somehow look acceptable, but it was rather exhausting though. So many doubts, so little ease and fun. – Even though I applied all the mentioned techniques. Huh?

Then, over the last weeks, I’ve been working on a series of drawing like those I did in September and November, too, but even though I tried all the techniques above, I wasn’t able to produce anything I like. The harder I tried, the more painful it got.

Ah, sweet resistance! We’ve met before. 

I surrendered. Fighting resistance makes it even stronger. Believe me, I’ve been there. I accepted that I was stuck and the pain that comes with it without questioning it. Instead I asked myself, what I’d need right now. I needed something comforting and reassuring. Something that I really like. I stopped drawing. I got the portfolio with my collection of wannabe drawings and started to make cut-outs from them. Those cut-outs instantly created images in my head, and my hands translated them into a collage. It was easy, comforting and fun. Plus, I like the piece (click to enlarge):

Jessica Koppe: choose | mixed-media collage, 21 x 21 cm | 2013
Jessica Koppe: choose
mixed-media collage, 21 x 21 cm, 2013

Over the last days I more and more understood that I don’t have to draw if I don’t want to. I now see that the techniques above didn’t work because I just don’t want to draw. Luckily, there is no need to force myself anymore. There are plenty of ways to create an image.

Don’t get me wrong, I love lines and a line is an essential element of drawings, shapes and patterns. Lines are a basic element of a lot of things that I create. But I have to draw a line here. (Sorry. Pun intended.)

You might try the mentioned techniques for yourself if perfectionism hits you. They won’t work in resistance mode. If you know similar situations, I hope that sharing my process will help you, too. If you want to share your experiences, please leave a comment. You’re not alone. Thanks for being here!