Most artists have more ideas than time. But if you’re coming up blank on what to draw today—or any day— this article is full of cool drawing prompts to get your creative juices flowing!
We’re thrilled to share some fantastic ideas from a lifelong artist, musician and teacher. Lynda Suzanne Wright is one of the most prolific artists we know and very creative in her use of mixed mediums of physical objects, photography, painting and digital collages.
AUDIO ARTICLE – Drawing Prompts:
Drawing Prompts for Daily Creativity
By contributing artist, Lynda Suzanne Wright
My primary visual art is photography, but it was drawing that eventually led me to photography. Today I venture from one media to another, and back again. It seems natural — organic — to me now.
What follows is not a finite list of ideas for inspiring your drawing — but rather some starters for those of us who find it difficult to get going — here’s to all the “but wait — I need my coffee first” folks.
Here are some of the basic tools you might use.
Generally, a drawing pad or stack of papers of whatever sizes you like; pencils; pens; markers; colored pencils (watercolor pencils are nice because you can make your marks more painterly later on if you wish).
Caveat: Some of these thoughts for you are “prompts” and others are “challenges” (my terminology, but it helps me think of all these things as a myriad of idea-makers and inspirations to get started drawing).
- Quickly sketch the first thing you picked up today (your glasses? coffee cup? bathrobe?).
- Are you into the unique shape of a tulip or daffodil or hyacinth? Put spring on a page.
- There is definitely ART in food. Draw food! Pizzas are fun (that was my dinner last night). What about Pie? And Burgers. You can color it in later if you want to sketch it now.
- Meditation art: draw an emotion / color / shape that you see/heard/felt in your meditation or early morning quiet time (if you have any of that).
- Utilize poetry or some other writing as a shove in the right direction (for YOU). It could be inspirational, hopeful, humorous, or perhaps historical. I looked down and saw the calendar I wrote for this week as I planned to help entertain two granddaughters, and I think I could make an illustrated calendar, or even perhaps a series of sketches of what we did (so far we have made birthday cards for their aunt, had lunch out, visited the farmers’ market). There is a 3D movie about dinosaurs on the calendar, as well as some art projects using buttons and fabric samples. Hmmm…illustrated calendar. I DO like that one.
- Take inspiration from a song. “Sailing” (Christopher Cross) is in my head right now, as well as “Everything’s All Right” (Webber from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR).
- Sketch a series – i.e., “three glimpses of spring (or fall, or summer, or happiness, or grief).
- Make a statement – what do YOU want to say today on your sketch book? Do you want to show frustration or anger in colors? How about peaceful marks on a page instead?
- Put pencil to paper – even if you don’t know WHAT you want to say in your art. Close your eyes and draw, then look down to see what it is. Food for thought.
- Draw inspiration from another art piece. You might use a famous painting or photo to parody, or to copy in your own style.
- Take one of your other drawings, perhaps NOT your favorite. Cut it up into squares and reassemble it in another way. Draw what results from that mixup.
- Draw on a photograph. I used metallic markers on a matte photo.
- Make your own coloring page – We used to call this “scribble art”. We drew shapes on the paper, not picking up the pencil point until we were finished covering the page, then we used markers or crayon or pencils to fill in the shapes with color. (This was before “adult coloring books”, but definitely as inspiring).
- A weeklong challenge: take 7 pieces of drawing paper; make a random shape with marker or dark pencil lead on each; each day pick up one of these and finish the drawing in whatever way you wish. On day 8, choose the drawing that is most inviting to you and paint it or highlight it.
- Spring cleaning art! clean out your bag/drawer; casually drop the contents onto a table or counter, then don’t rearrange them. Sketch the contents just as it fell.
Drawing Prompts Meme to Share
- Challenge: limit your space. Open your sketchbook; use painters’ tape to give yourself a “frame” of whatever size or shape you prefer, then fill that space with your drawing.
- Challenge: limit your materials. Choose 3 markers or pencils, one sheet of paper (perhaps uncommon, such as a brown paper bag, for example), and make yourself use only those materials for a drawing.
- Challenge: limit your time. Set a timer for 3 to 30 minutes and challenge yourself to draw for that time and stop when the timer says STOP.
- Challenge: use unusual materials. Try handmade paper, or draw in the margins of junk mail or bills (I really like that one). What about newspaper? Or take your common paper and crush it into a ball, then flatten it out before drawing.
- Draw on OLD paper. This one needs explanation: some people recycle old books by pulling out the pages and drawing/painting on those pages. I can’t bring myself to do that, since I collect old documents and books (they are my babies!). So what I do is to scan an old document or book page, then print it onto regular copy paper or art paper. Draw with your markers on top of that.
- Use celebrating for inspiration: make a card for a birthday or anniversary or other celebration, then share it.
- What is your favorite story/book? Perhaps it is a children’s story. You, too, can illustrate a story!
- LISTS. You see how much I like them! Make an illustrated list. You might consider designing a border with titles for your (blank) list, then print out a bunch for yourself and actually use them to create specific lists as you need them (to-do’s, shopping, trip planning, etc.)
- 100-word challenge: Write 100 words, just go stream of consciousness and it could even be in list form. Then create art around a word or phrase you’ve written.
- Describe your truth in 6 words then draw whatever it inspires.
- Design a cover for your future book: journal, novel, coloring book.
- Invent a character and draw them in as much detail as possible. BONUS: Write a short story to accompany your drawing. Or write about the character first to get ideas, then draw.
- Pick a piece of written work— novel, non-fic, poem — and draw something related to that piece.
- Choose a previous drawing and see how you could improve upon it, or what changes you would make now that you’re viewing it with fresh eyes. Many times we are able to see a new perspective once we’ve been removed from our creation for a time!
- Find a piece of art that inspires you (any medium), draw it in your own style.
Drawing Prompts Meme to Share
And most importantly… Have FUN!
Art is therapy.
Art is comfort.
Art is you on a page.
YOU are an artist.
All of us are artists.
It is NOT an exclusionary term.
~Lynda Suzanne Wright, Artist
That something that took me years to figure out. You don’t have to wait that long. You are an artist when you start doing art.
With sincere hope for inspiration for and within us all.
Lynda Suzanne Wright, artist
More Prompts for Drawing
In case you want to keep coming back to this article for more ideas and drawing inspiration, we’re listing more prompts below!
If you have an example of your own work you’d like us to share, or you’d like to contribute an article, just send us an email. Once you get going with these, you’ll become your own drawing idea generator!
- Open your camera roll (on your phone or computer), and pick one of your last five photos to draw.
- Go to the park, cafe, or any place you can sit for a while, and draw the surrounding scene.
- Choose a favorite lyric from a song you like and draw what comes to mind.
- Look up from whatever device you’re reading this article on, draw the first thing you see.
- Draw your pet in a funny setting or circumstance. E.g.,
- flying a spaceship
- at the desk in the Oval Office
- on safari
- playing a banjo
- painting a painting
- or whatever imaginative funky setting comes to mind.
- What comes to mind when you think of a: “Portal to infinity”? Draw it!
- Sketch a self-portrait but include goals you want to achieve in your life.
- Draw a country, state, or place you want to travel to but haven’t yet.
- Draw a country, state, or place you’ve already traveled too.
- Have a dream house in mind? Sketch it out! If you don’t already have your perfect house in mind, you can always search Home Design on Pinterest for ideas.
- Draw what you think you might find if you were scuba diving and found an old ship under the sea.
- If you currently play an instrument, draw it, or draw one you’d like to learn.
- Draw your family. Or drawn the family you envision one day.
- Quickly sketch your favorite meal.
- Monochrome drawings – one color with varying shading:
- Take a colored pencil color that you almost never use.
- Create that same drawing using a favorite colored pencil
- Scribble all over your paper, it doesn’t have to make any sense. Then color in the shapes. See if any abstract shape or scene pops out when you’re done.
- Choose a favorite chapter of a book you like and sketch the visual that scene brings to mind.
- Have a drawing block? Draw all the things that distract you from focusing on your art (think: Netflix logo, hours of video gaming, over-sleeping as portrayed by a bed or alarm clock, etc). 😉
- Draw gratitude:
- your list for the day
- something/someone you’re grateful for
- yourself… with hearts and love. Self love is important.
- Is there something that really scares you?
- Draw it as if it was some spooky monster.
- Then, give it a funny outfit. Like how in Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom pictured Snape (a professor he was scared of) in his aunt’s clothes.
Many of these extra prompts for drawing ideas are from this 100+ Life Goals article. The concept is about turning those life goals into drawings, much like drawing your vision board. So consider goals you have and how you could depict them in your art.
Like writing, drawing out your visions will help you see them more clearly. Which also reminds you of the direction you want to go in.
Visioning and Vision Board Prompts
Create a series of drawings that depict your dreams for your life. As you create them imagine yourself living that dream realized. Include in the illustration, your feelings and experience of living in that vision. Include drawings of things you’ll be doing and enjoying.
Your macro or long term goals vision picture would include everything you will have achieved five years from now, as a master drawing or painting of the scene of your life with all that you want to be in it. Then, elaborate on each area of that future vision in additional drawings to expand upon it and embellish in further detail.
If, for instance, your long term future vision includes a successful business and a lovely home with a garden, you would create separate pages for your business. You’d create another one for your home, and yet another of just your garden. With each illustration, your would imagine yourself in that scene. You may wish to draw yourself into it as well and include expressions or nuances that indicate how you feel in that place and time.
Long Term Goals – Macro Goals
Visioning Prompt – Begin at the top down with your 5 year goal:
- Vision where you want to be and what you will have accomplished in 5 years
- Large Master Drawing: Draw your life as that future vision achieved.
- Specific drawings: Take any one aspect of that future life vision illustration and expand upon it
If you’re having a hard time conceiving and conceptualizing your 5 year goal, no worries! It takes practice over time, and the best way to build the visioning muscle is to set short term goals and vision, plan and take action on them. In this case you can vision and draw out your short term goals in any increment of 90 days, 30 days on down to one week and even one day.
If you’re a visual person, you may even prefer to draw out your daily and weekly goals rather than write them out in words.
Short Term Goals – Micro Goals
Visioning Prompt – Begin with your 90 day goal achieved:
- Vision where you want to be and what you will have accomplished in 90 days
- Large Master Drawing: Draw your life as that future vision achieved.
- Specific drawings: Take any one aspect of that future life vision illustration and expand upon it. You may wish to do this for daily and weekly goals, or, to do it for segments of achievements.
- E.g., if you’re goal is to illustrate a book, you could draw the book, then each subsequent drawing could include aspects of that book and/or you having accomplished those aspects.
- E.g., if your goal is to sell your art, it could include an illustration of your Etsy shop and brand slogan.
RELATED: Visioning Tools.
What inspires my creations is my history as a hunter-gatherer of sorts. I travel, read, collect, observe. When the light is right and the colors and shadows draw me in, I photograph, paint, or scan an antique autograph, all of which find roles to play in my art. The act of visually diving into each image through its layers is the sort of alchemy that compels me to come back to creating, day after day.
As a retired educator and professional singer, I have always known there are myriad avenues of communication, and through the years, my body of visual art emerges to be a great part of my true voice. Bottom Line: I can no more separate the facets of my artistic life than I can the aspects of my family and personal life. They are organic and they are one. Looking back, the only “stuck” moments in my artistic journey occurred when I allowed myself to listen to those who did not understand my journey. There is always someone who wants you to “just focus on ONE thing”. I’m not wired that way. Enjoy Lynda’s awesome article on prompts for drawing here.
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