I don’t normally like to engage in “telling secrets,” but today I will, because I want to share two artistic secrets with you. Don’t tell anyone. Unless you like them. Or find them useful, or fun, or entertaining. Then please tell them to everyone you meet, scream it from your rooftop, and tattoo it to your forehead. Okay?


Doing art for this many years has taught me so much about myself, my feelings, and life. One of the things it’s taught me is that “art” is not as tightly defined as the general population seems to think it is. Most people say, “I can’t draw.” The secret is, I know they can. Of course not all of us can draw like DaVinci, but in my experience with students, most people can draw a lot better than they think they can, especially when they open up their idea of what constitutes a drawing or a “good drawing.”

Everyone can draw, you just don’t know it yet.


When you are non-judgmental and open up your definition of what a “good drawing” is, drawing can be a very calming activity, especially for those of us who get a bit high strung or anxious. (Ahem. Who? Me? )

So how about it? Would you be willing to try some very simple art exercises and see whether or not they have a positive impact on your mood? As long as you can hold a pen, you can do it right.

As long as you can hold a pen, you can draw.


If you think your inner critic might get in the way of you approaching this with an open mind, you might want to first do the inner critic exercise from the Starting Your Art Journal e-book. You can find it for free here.

Tell your inner critic to take a break for a minute, then run to the nearest pen and paper and draw.


Art Journal Lines

I find this exercise really helpful when I want to draw but feel uninspired, unfocused, or overwhelmed. I like to watch the lines appear across the page. I give myself permission to draw as fast or slow as feels good in the moment. Usually if I start out drawing fast and sloppy, after a few minutes I’ll find my lines getting neater and closer together, my breathing slows down, and I can think straight again. I particularly like this one when I feel really anxious. It’s grounding for me. Does this work for you?

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While it seems silly, I really like the look of these pages in my journals. Sometimes I’ll leave them as is, and at others, I will use them as a background for writing, painting, or collage.


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Circles Drawing1

This is one of my new favorite drawing techniques. I’ve been playing with it in my journals and in my paintings on canvas. I draw tiny little circles and barely make any decisions about where they are going. Instead, I just observe as they appear and migrate across the page. My hand seems to pick up a rhythm and I follow along. Making the jagged lines in between which the circles exist suggests all sorts of natural things to me – maps, microscopic photography, or growth on the underside of a leaf. What do you see?

Circles in Circle


Circles in Forms


Blind Contour Drawing

Make art. Feel better

Recently I found a wonderful artist, Koosje Keone, who shares her beautiful journals and drawing techniques. Please check her out. She’s inspired me to get back into my blind contour drawings lately.

Blind contour drawing involves looking only at your subject, not your paper, and keeping one continuous line on the page. The results are distorted and yet precise, emotional, and very beautiful. I love how it brings me very forcefully into the present moment as I slowly move my pen across the edge of my subject.

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