The effects of social distancing and the current world situation have left many feeling anxious and stir-crazy. I have found solace in drawing, and hope that these ideas for drawing while in isolation help you do the same.
The first set of drawing prompts are meant to be entertaining and distracting, meant for those of you looking to take your mind off of what's going on in the world. The next set suggests what to draw around the home - accessible items and subjects. The final set of ideas for drawing are for those of you wanting to address or reflect upon the current situation in your artwork.
Work your way through this list as a drawing challenge, or find the prompt that resonates with you, and begin there.
1. Sketch Dinosaur (and other) Skeletons at a Virtual Natural History Museum
If my College drawing class had continued in person this semester, I would have taken my students on a field trip to a local Dinosaur Museum. This no longer being possible, and assuming that my class was ready for an 'adventure', I substituted this trip by assigning that they go on a Virtual Tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and draw 3 skeletons of their choice.
Some spent an hour on each, while others became absorbed in the process and created spectacularly detailed drawings, such as the ones below by Bernie Ayala.
(Click the link, scroll down to where it says 'Access the Tours', and click 'Permanent Exhibits'.)
On your tour, don't miss the wing on the second floor with all of the bones!
Another stunning natural history museum you could visit virtually is the Natural History Museum in London, England.
2. Sketch Cars at a Virtual Car Museum
3. Sketch Animals at a Virtual Zoo
If, like me, you made the mistake of not getting a puppy before the lockdown, challenge yourself to sketch animals ‘live’ as though you were at a Zoo! The San Diego Zoo boasts live footage of baboons, penguins, koalas, butterflies, giraffes, tigers and more. I highly recommend the Penguin Cam.
4. Sketch aquatic life at a Virtual Aquarium
Observe live footage of a coral reef, sharks, a kelp forest, the open sea, and more, via the Monterey Bay Aquarium Webcams!
Or, head over to the Georgia Aquarium live webcams to view gators, beluga whales, underwater puffins, southern sea otters, and jellyfish.
5. Travel virtually to Yosemite National Park for some landscape drawing
Click here to go to the Yosemite Virtual Tour
This is a stunning and extensive virtual tour. You might just be so immersed in your adventure (and the relaxing nature sounds that accompany the tour) that you may not get any drawing done.
6. Use Google Maps to travel to and draw virtually any location
Google Maps is really a marvel. Anywhere you think of, you can probably go to virtually, like the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, Paris, or the Namib Desert (where I have personally always wanted to go)!
Why not virtually visit a destination you have always wanted to see, and indulge in some sketching.
7. Sketch architecture and practice perspective drawing on virtual tours of these Cathedrals and Museums
Click here to visit The Vatican Museum - Virtual Tour
8. Sketch at a Virtual Theme Park
Such as Walt Disney World
9. Sketch friends in action poses via Zoom or Google Hangouts
friends via Zoom or Google Hangouts, and get some exercise and drawing
time by taking some clothed action poses, one at a time, while the others draw!
(Or some variation of this!)
10. Draw a pet
11. Draw a self-portrait
Or, if you’ve had quite enough of yourself for one lockdown
12. Draw an eye of someone you are living with
Because really, what else do they have to do. (Just kidding!)
If you’re on lockdown by yourself, face-time with an artistic friend via Zoom or Google Hangouts, and take turns modelling for each other! You can draw separate feature studies, or a full-fledged portrait.
Sure, you could draw from a photo, but connecting with
community is so enriching in these isolated times. Plus, why not create
conditions that are closer to drawing from life, and practice navigating the
challenges of drawing a live model. Play some nice background music, and make
an afternoon out of it!
a study of your hand
14. Study and draw your feet
15. Draw chairs stacked in an interesting composition
Feel free to stack other furniture, too. Warning: This may result
in a blanket fort in your living room.
16. Draw drapery
Hang some sheets in an interesting configuration, and direct
a light at them in such a way that it creates some nice contrast and a wide range of values.
17. Draw something transparent
Like a tape dispenser, or a glass! If you’re
feeling ambitious, you could even set up an entire transparent still life.
18. Draw something metallic and reflective
Like a spoon or tin foil shaped into something!
19. Draw a mastercopy
An age-old way to study drawing is to copy an 'Old Master' drawing.
20. Draw a sphere or an egg
To brush up on the fundamentals of drawing! (You can use this tutorial here.)
21. Draw the scene out your window
22. Draw the same scene at two different times of day, or in different lighting
Like in this stunning series by Samantha Haring.
23. Find and draw an area of your home that you have disregarded or haven’t previously noticed
for this prompt is more beautiful, quietly intense work by Samantha Haring, whose pastels are an intimate meditation on humble objects and the detritus of studio life.
24. Look for and draw the stunning effects of light in your living space (or simply take inspiration from them!)
Here are a
few that I have marvelled at in the past week.
25. Draw a 'liminal space' in your home
Such as a
hallway, window, or doorway.
26. Draw a plant you have in your home
27. Draw an object or area of your home that gives you comfort.
28. Draw an area of your neighborhood that has been altered by the current situation
**Please only do this if leaving your home is safe and allowed in your area.**
I currently live in a sparsely-populated area, and at the time of writing this, can still venture out for a short walk without running
the risk of crossing paths with people. On a recent walk, I was struck by this scene.
29. Draw an item that has recently taken on a new significance
30. Draw this flower along with me in my Realistic Drawing 101: Essential Skills and Concepts course
are looking for some instruction, why not take a drawing course?
In Realistic Drawing 101, I create a single charcoal drawing, demonstrating the entire drawing process, from the first pencil marks to the final ones. Draw along with me by downloading a reference photo of the flower I'm drawing, and follow along step-by-step!
Diagrams and animations illustrate the essential concepts needed to create a believable, realistic drawing. Best of all - you can apply the concepts you learn in this course to any drawing you create in the future.
Whether you wish to create work addressing the situation that we are in, or momentarily escape it, I hope that these ideas for drawing have provided you with a creative 'pick-me-up'.
If you use some of these prompts and would like to share, I would love to see!
Use hashtag #thedrawingsource or tag @thedrawingsource on Facebook and Instagram.
Be safe and well,
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