Be More You - Expressive Drawing

For more expressive drawings: Stop, be present, engage… and draw!

For more expressive drawings: Stop, be present, engage… and draw!

Expressive drawing means being more YOU

It means letting your thoughts and feelings show up in your drawing as part of your art.

It’s all about looking, feeling and being creative… but where to start with this?

The objective of this drawing lesson is to understand how to put your own expression and personality into your art.

This page is part of my Start Drawing Your Way free learning resource to help you learn to draw accurately but in a way that feels right for you, is enjoyable, meaningful and is in your own style.

On this page, we’re looking more at our personal self-expression in our art.

We’ll be building on what we thought about in the previous page about collecting personal and meaningful drawing inspiration from nature

As well as our thoughts about what art is and why our self-expression in art matters.

Drawing roses with a bit of a flourish - style and expression in art!

Drawing roses with a bit of a flourish - style and expression in art!

Expressive Drawing

Expressive drawing is important because it helps you to develop your own unique artistic style. It also makes your art far more personal, meaningful, and enjoyable – and enhances the feelings of creativity, relaxation, and fulfilment you’ll get from your artistic past-time.

In this lesson, we’re not just going to look and draw. We’re also going to get in touch with our emotions about our art and about our subject matter. This is essential for personal, expressive and meaningful drawings!

Making Sempervivum drawings into bold, stylised shapes is putting my own personal mark and style into my art.

Making Sempervivum drawings into bold, stylised shapes is putting my own personal mark and style into my art.

Making Expressive Drawings

The fact of being present in a particular moment – using all of our senses and connecting to our own feelings and emotions in that moment is what allows us to create expressive art.

Look at what we’re drawing now… stop, look, notice, and connect with our emotions, right now, with our photo or our subject matter in front of us.

STOP – experience what’s actually around us with all of our senses – your music, your candles, your drink, the chair you’re sat on, the floor beneath your feet, your shoes, how your pen or pencil feels in your hand, and how it feels as you draw it across the page, how the page itself feels. You can stop and slowly experience them all.

Taking time to look closely at a flower as I draw it

Taking time to look closely at a flower as I draw it

Look and notice the details. Become absorbed in looking at your subject matter. If it’s a flower, how does looking at it make you feel? Why did you choose it? What do you like about it? What stands out about it? What sort of flower personality do you think it is? Is it little and sweet? Shy? Confident? A chatterbox? Start to think about these things as you draw.

We don’t have to consciously ‘put’ anything different into our drawing. What we’re thinking and feeling manages to naturally ‘leak’ into our art.

That’s why drawing what makes us feel joyful, and really feeling that joy, creates joyful art and expressive drawings that are filled with personality and really reflect YOU and what you’re feeling.

Getting colourful and expressive with a close-up drawing of poppy seedheads

Getting colourful and expressive with a close-up drawing of poppy seedheads

And likewise, if you’re feeling bored and uninspired, you’ll naturally create bored and uninspired art – even if you’re trying desperately not to!

That’s why it’s so important to me that you go out into the world and notice things to inspire your drawing. Notice what attracts you – what brings you joy – and draw that, so that you’re creating your art from a place of personal meaning and happiness. See ideas for how to do this here…

It’s important to your continuing to draw and being able to enjoy and grow in this very relaxing past-time.

Having a fun time with some drawing of leaves - putting in some expression and exploring how far I can go with the drawing

Having a fun time with some drawing of leaves - putting in some expression and exploring how far I can go with the drawing

Expressive Drawings from Photos

We can also access special moments and feelings from our memories and remember and reconnect with the way we felt at the time too, so that we can use that emotion in our expressive drawings.

This photo is a trigger to remembering the moment I took the photo - what I was seeing, hearing, experiencing and the emotions I felt - excited at seeing such fabulous flowers, interest in the garden, pleasure at the colours, the warmth of the sun.

This photo is a trigger to remembering the moment I took the photo - what I was seeing, hearing, experiencing and the emotions I felt - excited at seeing such fabulous flowers, interest in the garden, pleasure at the colours, the warmth of the sun.

When you revisit your favourite photos to draw from, use your memory of the moment you took the photo. And recall how you were feeling with all of your senses at that time. What were you hearing, smelling, seeing? How were you feeling?

Hopefully, if you took a clear enough ‘snapshot’ in your mind when you took the photo, these feelings will come back to you easily. If not, don’t worry. It can take a little time to learn these skills and feel comfortable with them. This is normal…

You don’t need to force anything, but just take a few moments, as you look at your photo, to try to remember where you were. What time of day was it? What were you in the middle of doing? Who were you with? Where were you on the way to or from? How warm or cold was it? What was the weather like? All of these things can help you to prompt your memory and reconnect you with your feelings about that moment.

Sometimes the memory was just too long ago, or your original experience simply wasn’t memorable enough. This is absolutely fine… just think about how the photo makes you feel now… why do you like it? Why is it meaningful to you? Why did you decide to draw it? What emotion do you feel?

Recalling the pleasure at seeing the flowers in real life helps the drawing become more meaningful to me and more enjoyable to make.

Recalling the pleasure at seeing the flowers in real life helps the drawing become more meaningful to me and more enjoyable to make.

Drawing Exercise

Try making an expressive drawing from life, from a photo you took or another that attracts you. It’s important to try to find a subject matter that attracts you in some way and has positive connotations and feelings for you.

Ask yourself some of the questions in this lesson about how your subject matter makes you feel before you start and while you’re drawing.

Relax, don’t worry about if you’re doing your drawing ‘right’ and just really feel your emotions in every molecule of your body - then, look at what you’re drawing and draw what feels right…

How does doing this feel? (Don’t worry, it does feel bizarre or awkward at first and it can definitely take a little practice to create expressive drawings that you feel comfortable doing and then sharing with others.)

Do you feel differently about your drawings done in this way? Does it make a difference to what you choose to draw? …and how you draw it?

Next: Playing at art to feel more relaxed and creative with your drawings.

If you’d like some extra help with making your own expressive drawings and developing your own unique drawing skills, you might like my Start Drawing Your Way Essential Drawing Skills Online Course which aims to build your drawing skills for accurate drawing but also personal, expressive, and creative drawings that are drawn in your own unique style… does this sound like the sort of thing you’d love? Then find out all about the course here…

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Explore more of my free drawing lessons in my Start Drawing Your Way learning resource. Or browse some of my art created digitally from pen/marker drawings. You can buy my art prints in my online store with worldwide delivery or get my art and designs printed onto fabrics, wallpapers, cushions, duvet covers, phone covers and much more at one of my licensed additional stockists.

Feedback on your drawings? Help developing your artistic Style? Check out my essential drawing skills online course - click here…

Feedback on your drawings? Help developing your artistic Style? Check out my essential drawing skills online course - click here…

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