How to tell if I like drawing?

  • As someone with ADHD, I face challenges staying focused and doing some routine work. Also, it can happen that I get so excited, I cannot do anything at all. A weird mix of boredom and excitement, all in the same plate.
    For this reason, it's really hard for me to tell, whether drawing is something I want to make my favorite hobby, or just another distraction and anxiety trigger. What questions should I ask myself to clear that out?

  • Do you "LOVE" it?
    Do you draw "all the time?"
    Does it "feel" weird when there is not a pencil, pen, brush or stylus in your hand?

  • @arent-draper if I were, I probably wouldn't be asking this question, right?:)
    Also, when you start again and again and again, and you're still on the same level with little improvement, it's hard to not be discouraged. Maybe that "again and again" thing means something after all? Should I "break up - move on" or should I give this "relationship" another chance?

  • Pro

    @Настя-Волкова That is such a good question! I don't have ADHD myself, but I've been through several art blocks over the years and periods where I definitely don't feel like drawing. It's work to me: work that I like sure, but work. When I draw I often get into a zen place where I just settle into a pace and it's sort of relaxing. But that's more often with personal projects, harder to achieve with professional work where you have directions and references and feedback. A lot of days I'd rather lay in bed watching Netflix with a hot cocoa than drag myself out of bed and draw all day. Some projects even feel like pulling hair. So how do I know I like drawing?

    For me it's 2 things. First, I like creating something. By that I mean I like the final product. Sometimes a project has been hard to get out, but once I'm done and see the final result, I forget all the hard part. I feel happy and proud that I actually created this thing, this thing that didn't exist before and couldn't have existed without me. When I finish a project, I take a beat to just look at it. It's my reward! I like to save a few in progress shots and carousel through them, seeing how each step makes it better until the piece is finished. Sometimes, seeing the finished result is more fun than the process was.

    Second, weirdly enough I never feel productive unless I've drawn something. I could have done all the errands and washed my apartment from top to bottom and I'll still feel like I didn't accomplish anything that day if I didn't create something. It may seem unimportant at first glance, but feeling productive is very important for happiness. People who don't accomplish things, like people who have been in an accident and are temporarily disabled for instance, often get depressed. When you feel like you're not doing anything, not contributing anything, what reason do you have for getting out of bed in the morning? What a depressing thing it is! And when I don't draw for a few days I definitely feel down. I feel the itch to be productive again. Unless it's a vacation of course!

    To summarize I think the best way to describe it is that drawing is like a family member to me. I love it, but sometimes I don't like it. Sometimes it annoys me, some days I don't want to deal with it. But I still love it, it's still a part of me, and no matter how it can sometimes annoy me, if it suddenly went away I would grieve terribly.

    I hope this helped at all! Everyone sees drawing differently so even if your experience is totally different, it doesn't mean you don't still like drawing. But maybe reading everyone's responses will give you some clues!

  • SVS OG

    @Настя-Волкова Hi! As long you find enjoyment out of it, then go for it. The fact that you keep returning to it says that you really do. As long as you’re doing this as a hobby, I really don’t think you should worry yourself with whether this could be your favorite past time. So, yeah. If you enjoy doing it, then keep doing it. I hope this helps.

  • @Настя-Волкова Have you listened to the creative pep talk podcast at all? I think you could get a lot out of it. Andy, the host, is very open about his ADHD and how it effects his creativity. Here are two episodes that specifically call it out in the title but he talks about it often in other episodes as well.

  • This is not an easy question to answer. I think there's a lot of things artists will have in common psychologically with art, but there are also so many differences. I can only offer my experience, and maybe something will resonate.

    For me personally, I've always had a love affair with consuming art, and a compulsion to try and capture the emotion and expression of the images I was consuming. I love doing things with my hands and I love painting. Drawing is something I've had a tougher relationship with.

    For the type of images I want to make, drawing skills are a must, but drawing has always been a struggle for me and it never felt easy or fun. I thought that it was I sign that I wasn't cut out for it and I gave up for 5 years or so. I rekindled interest once I came across online sketchbooks. I saw people put in a lot of work and greatly improve over a span of many years. After that I really fell in love with the process of learning art, despite my uneasy relationship to drawing. I told myself it was ok to make bad drawings and ugly art. I was committed to the learning process, and still had a compulsion to participate in image making, even if drawing was still hard.

    During this time period, I've noticed a rhythm- that sometimes I'll be super proud of myself, and sometimes I'll feel terrible about my art abilities. I cycle through those feelings quite often, but it's getting easier to ride out both the positive and the negative feelings, observe them at a distance, and keep on going. That being said, I do go through periods where I slack off and don't do art for months at a time, but I allow myself to return despite my negligence. Having gone through these cycles of emotional highs and lows, breaks and reunions, I still see a steady upward growth in my art, and that keeps me going. As improvement happens, the whole process becomes more and more enjoyable and I've started to make images that help with the compulsion I feel when I look at other people's art.

    I like how @NessIllustration compares drawing to a human relationship. If I relate it specifically to myself, drawing would be like raising a "difficult" child. You have that primal love for them, but day to day life with them it's not necessarily easy or enjoyable. You are, however, committed to being their parent. With some thought, persistence, and luck maybe you can help them blossom and grow, and in return your relationship will blossom and grow. I hope that wasn't insensitive to anyone, but sometimes that's how it feels.

    So I guess some things in summary:

    Art is a relationship for the long haul. The process of learning can motivate you, even if you don't necessarily like the act of drawing itself. You need to put in plenty of effort, but you can definitely take extended breaks whenever you want with no shame, especially if it's just for a hobby. You are allowed to make bad art. You are normal if you think you're the best artist in the world one moment and the worst artist in the world the next moment. Passion and enjoyment can grow with time, skill acquisition, and experience.

  • SVS OG

    I agree with @NessIllustration that even if a person loves drawing, there may be times that drawing is not at all fulfilling, partly because it depends on what kind of drawing you are doing. Sketching and creating an illustration, for example, are two very different kinds of drawing because the first can just be fun doodling while the second takes work and can be frustrating if it isn't coming out the way you want it to. For me, I think of it like I think of my music -- I love music and can't imagine a time when I'm not spontaneously singing (in the kitchen, on walks etc.) but when I am trying to learn how to play a Bach piece on my mandolin, I can get so frustrated that I want to throw my mandolin across the room.

    I would say that if you want to draw as a hobby that relaxes you, just sketch and don't worry about the results, but if you want to draw so that you are producing satisfying work, be prepared for a possible love-hate relationship with your art.

  • SVS OG

    Great question! I like the family member analogy, first of all. Sometimes you just don’t like drawing, or get annoyed by it and need to get away.

    For me, I know that it’s a good choice because firstly, I find it fascinating to learn and discuss making images. I’m bored as pants to hear about, say, working on cars. But I’ll happily follow a conversation about how light affects color or shading wrinkles in cloth.

    Second, when I finally wrestle myself down to work, I can get totally lost in it. Hours will go by and I don’t even realize it. When I stop, it’s like I’m coming up from a trance or something.

    Not many activities can do that for me, so I think I must really like something when that happens.

  • @Настя-Волкова
    My best advice for you is to find something that you are passionate about (sounds like drawing might not be your thing...and that's ok) Try something different and see where that takes you (maybe 3-D or architectural) You never know until you try.

  • I live with chronic illness as well (Lupus, plus a couple other auto-immune illnesses, & my medications have taken their toll, so I also have Osteoporosis and GI issues). So I know that health issues can be challenging.

    For me, I just don't have the stamina to draw or create art as often as I would like, and I get discouraged at lack of progress as well. I know that even at my healthiest, I wouldn't be able to sustain an art career (I struggled with just an office job).

    But I've found that if I don't do something creative at least every once in a while, I find myself feeling unhappy & I don't feel like myself anymore. It might be drawing, or making a simple stuffed animal for a niece or nephew, or something else. I have to accept the fact that I'm not going to be on the fast track for developing my skills, but I can still do something. It just makes me happy to create something, and it's a fulfilling part of my life. It helps me to not hold myself to a certain standard. It's ok that it's just a hobby, and I'll stay in a "beginner" stage. I can still enjoy it, and it can still make others happy when I share my talents with them.

    I think if you keep coming back to drawing, there's something in you that's pulling you to it, but only you can figure that out for sure. My advice as you think about it is to allow "hobby" or even "occasional hobby" to be options in the spectrum of how much time & effort you decide to spend on art in your life.

    I may never be a master, but I can still bring some small amount of beauty and joy into the world, and that is worth something.

  • @arent-draper

    lols yes to the first, no to the second, no to the third
    yet yes to having ideas, and stories and characters in my head
    they just haven't found their way onto paper, more insecurity than procrastination. it's a wip.


    repetition can bring boredom
    but stories can bring excitement - i get a lot of stories at night which is not at all helpful -but sometimes they filter into my dreams which later filter into my work.
    be kind to yourself and stay flexible, be adaptable but also if you like it you'll do it.

  • I have a friend that has adhd and trouble focusing. He goes to therapy and takes medication. Both his parents have ADHD, his mom has it really bad. His ADHD has gotten better. to a certain extent of course, its still apparent in many different ways but he is able to do work. Im not great at advice like this but if I ask you questions about your behavior and habits perhaps it will help you figure things out better for yourself?

  • I have been diagnosed with ADHD, although there are two very different opinions from two different doctors. One says yes I am (inattentive type with some sensory processing disorder), the other says probably not but won't rule it out completely. Needless to say, I'm confused on the matter of their opinion, but have enough self awareness to know that at least I have some kind of problem that needed solving in order to lead a better quality of life. Missing deadlines is NOT ideal in the freelance world and you will not get work if you don't find a way to shape up!

    And focus was my biggest problem. So earlier this year I requested a referral to see a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD (she is the one who doesn't think it's my problem and attributed my issues to anxiety/depression). We have had several sessions and for this and other reasons, she has suggested I try medication. One to manage the depression/anxiety, the other to manage something I do not wish to disclose here, but it is also prescribed for people who have ADHD.

    I don't condone medication as a solution - most of the time it is simply a bandaid for something that might have healthier or more natural way to solve the problem. I was, however, at my wits end and too far into my life to feel like a complete and utter failure anymore. Mindset tools such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neural Linguistic Programming, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy haven't quite done the trick, though they have added to my arsenal of how to deal with issues that come up. The same with learning how habits work and how to replace/build new and helpful habits, and just understanding my own brain and how it works!

    Truthfully, it really has made significant changes for me in the past few months. I can stay focused, my mind is not racing all over the place to every shiny possibility. I have been able to maintain my concentration to a point where I am getting through online class lessons and better yet, GETTING THINGS DONE. I've finished a lot of art where as before, my WIP folder took up most of the space on my hard-drive. Consequently, my confidence in my abilities has increased too.

    Meds are not the be all and end all. I combine this with support from my psych, accountability to friends and mentors, lists, notes and goal setting to stay on track. I have a lot of ideas and I make notes about them in a notebook or file, somewhere I can see and sort them out. I have reminders and alarms galore. And although I haven't completely mastered all this, the difference is amazing and I'm extremely happy with the progress.

    It is up to you to find out and manage how you process things. Try everything till you find something that fits, there are heaps of tools available to help focus, time management, etc. It's a bit of an adventure finding these things out too. With your art, others have made some useful points, so I won't repeat them, but it also may not be a bad idea to talk to someone about how you can find a way through this. Because if you really enjoy drawing, you will no doubt keep coming back to it, even after a bad art block or hiatus. Accepting that you are creative and identifying it with yourself is also helpful, so say "I AM an artist" instead of "I'm not an artist", no matter what your skill level. If it's what you really want to do, you will naturally feel pulled to do it at some point.

    Sorry... I am also incredibly long-winded, but this topic resonated with me, so I hope it helps... you or anyone who reads and has similar quirks. As others have said, dig deep and find out about yourself. Talk to your doctor about managing any flighty tendencies. Research. Practice. And hopefully you will find the answer you seek.

Log in to reply