Why you don’t have to be good at drawing

Why you don’t have to be good at drawing

You really don’t have to be good at drawing to be an excellent visual thinker and here are three reasons why:

1. First and foremost ‘good at drawing’ is a very subjective benchmark. It takes us down the slippery path of ‘What is art?’, the kind of question I left behind in Cork along with my MA in Philosophy.

With visual thinking and graphic facilitation our focus is not on ‘art’ or ‘good drawings’, our focus is on helping people to understand something, to share ideas and to enhance communication.

2. I always say visual thinking is 50% skill and 50% mindset. You can be the world’s greatest artist but if you’re plagued with perfectionism or never take yourself out of your comfort zone then you’ll need a real mindset shift in order to be a great visual thinker.

3. Research has shown that your drawings only need to look 30% like what they’re supposed to be. Our brains fill in the gaps. So even if you’re working with a group and your drawings are really sketchy, this sketchiness in fact increases engagement as we examine the meanings of the drawings. The drawings are not ‘done’. They allow for growth, expansion and exploration.

And who wouldn’t benefit from some of that in these changing times?

All the best,

Sketchnote: The Growth Mindset

Sketchnote: The Growth Mindset

Recently I’ve found myself immersed in Carol Dweck’s book, ‘Mindset: Change the way you think to fulfil your potential.’.

It was Dweck who came up with the notion of the growth mindset i.e. a way of thinking where you believe that you have the potential to learn how to do whatever you want. Someone with a growth mindset relishes challenges, is open to new ideas, likes to try new things and believes that the effort they put in determines their success.

I often say a visual thinking mindset is a growth mindset – with visual thinking we step out of our comfort zone, we are open to new ways of working and we test old limiting beliefs such as ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I was never good at art at school so I’m going to be hopeless at this.’

And really, it starts with the belief. The more you believe you can do something the more effort you’ll put in and the more effort you put in the greater your sense of achievement. This achievement then reinforces your positive belief that you really can do whatever you set your mind to. And so the virtuous circle continues.

And if your starting point is a negative belief? If you genuinely believe you can’t draw/do an Ironman/solve quadratic equations?

Then look for evidence that challenges this. Recall past successes where you overcame limiting beliefs. Consider other ways of assessing your belief. Seek out evidence that supports the (true!) belief that you can do anything you set your mind to.

All the best,

How to build confidence in your drawing Part 2

In Part 1 of series this blog posts, I shared some tips around how to build confidence in your drawing, concluding with the importance of focusing on the process and not the outcome.

Because this is such an important topic – lack of confidence stops people over and over again – we’re continuing with the theme this week.

I always say drawing is 50% skill and 50% mindset. Therefore it’s important to work on both to ensure success.

  • Resist the urge to edit as you go along. I know what it’s like. You start drawing a dog and before you know it looks like a hamster horse hybrid. Continue with the hamster horse hybrid until it’s a finished drawing. It’s at that point we can assess our drawing, analyse what went right and what went wrong and start again from fresh. Otherwise you can get yourself caught up in constant correction mode, not a helpful place to be.
  • Quieten your inner critic. Recognise when it makes an appearance. Even better draw your critic! Get your worries out of your head and on to the page.
  • Use pen and paper. Switch off the phone. Give yourself 5 minutes of non tech time. Drawing on a tablet can lead to constant corrections and distractions (notifications, emails, life). Watch out for this.
  • Share your drawings. One way to both quieten the inner critic and boost your confidence is to share your drawings. Resist the temptation to wait until you’re 100% happy with them. Be proud of where you are in your drawing journey today.
  • Enjoy the process. If you’re not enjoying it, stop. Do something else. You can always come back to it later.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.

All the best,

How to build confidence in your drawing Part 1

How to build confidence in your drawing Part 1

Feeling a bit wobbly when it comes to putting pen to paper? You’re not alone. If we don’t flex our visual thinking muscles on a regular basis we can easily lose confidence in drawing simple images.

Perhaps you’ve been on a course or bought a book, all fired up with enthusiasm, but then life got in the way and you’ve since lost your drawing mojo.

Here are some tips to help build your confidence:

  • Draw something every single day. An apple, a sun, a tree, anything at all. Just draw.
  • Always use your favourite marker or pen, don’t just grab the nearest drawing implement within reach. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or fancy marker, just something you love.
  • Start small and break it down. Take one simple image and ask yourself, ‘What’s the first line I see?’ Copy that line down, and then the next, and the next.
  • Slow down. As my lettering mentor Heather Martinez says, ‘Form, then rhythm’. Take your time getting to know the shape, the construct of the image, the order in which you like to draw the lines. Once you’re comfortable with that, then speed up.

Emotionally disconnect from the outcome. Lean in to the process, the process of learning and discovery. This is a key component of the growth mindset which is closely connected to visual thinking.

I hope these tips encourage you to pick up the pen this week and reconnect you with your passion for all things creative.

All the best,

[Video] How to draw an icon for peace/meditation/reflection

[Video] How to draw an icon for peace/meditation/reflection

And here we are once more…

Another day, another major change, another opportunity to pause and feel grateful for a sense of community that goes beyond what we can experience in a physical sense.

And today I use this opportunity to share with you my YouTube video which I hope you enjoy.

On the theme of pausing and reflecting here is an icon I use an awful lot.

How might an icon for peace/meditation/reflection help you and your work right now?

Click on the image below to be taken to the YouTube video where you can follow along with me.

Stay well, stay positive.


Sketchnote: 10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health

Sketchnote: 10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health

Lots of you commented on how how much you enjoyed seeing my Three Ways The Brain Creates Meaning sketchnote a few weeks back, so I thought I’d share another sketchnote with you today.

This time the topic is mental health. Here I share with you some tips I gleaned from the Mental Health Foundation website.

As I was reading through the information a part of me was a little frustrated, thinking ‘Yes, I’ve seen this before’. 

And then I asked myself some important questions.

I may have seen the info before, I may even feel that I *know* it, but…
– Do I do it?
– Could I do more of it?
– Could I do it more often?

As I’m sure you’ll agree, knowing and doing are entirely different things.

I hope you like this sketchnote. Feedback always welcome.