Have you ever watched somebody drawing a picture and thought, “I wouldn’t ever be able to do that?” Yet being able to make some marks on a piece of paper is a skill like any other. You can learn to make a sketch of a building, a landscape or even a person just as you can learn to play an instrument, ride a bike or use a spreadsheet. Of course there are talented artists who can produce amazing pictures, just as there are amazing guitarists, BMX stunt riders and Excel power users, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the basics. More importantly, there are many reasons why learning to sketch will actually benefit you.
It Trains You to Deal With Details
Many people go through life noticing little of what’s going on around them. When you learn to draw, you begin to pay attention to the world in new ways. Even if you’re not planning on sketching at that moment, you get into the habit of seeing the shapes and colours of things around you. You become more aware of the way that people move or sit. Imagine how your customer at work might feel when you pay attention to his body language and anticipate his needs, or how much it might mean to your friend that you noticed a small change in her appearance. In a society that’s often short on attention, learning how to notice details can be a huge asset.
It Gives You a Break From People Pleasing
Using social media has many benefits, but one of the downsides is feeling the pressure to share a perfect picture. Obviously you can take a photo of your sketch and share it if you want, but one of the joys of having a physical rather than a digital image is that it only needs to be for you. You can use the colours you want; you can emphasize something and ignore something else; you can be as accurate or as imaginative as you want. Nobody can tell you that your picture is no good: it’s your picture, not theirs. What’s more, your only limit is your imagination rather than the number of filters on your phone.
Sketching Can Be Good For Your Mental Health
People have been making art for tens of thousands of years, ever since someone used their hand and some pigment to make a mark on the wall of a cave. The ability and the desire to create a picture seems to be part of what it means to be human. It’s only in recent years, with the growth of art therapy as a specific area for research, that there’s been scientific evidence for what our ancestors knew: drawing pictures is good for you.
You can have something that’s completely unique.
There’s almost nowhere in the world that hasn’t been photographed many times before. Visit a new city and take photos, and you can find dozens of identical pictures online. One of the only ways to make a photo unique is to take a selfie, which is why every tourist destination in the world is surrounded by people who have their backs to it. Instead of taking twenty pictures of yourself in front of the Sydney Opera House or the Golden Gate Bridge, take a few moments to produce a picture that nobody else in the world will have.
Drawing a picture is more satisfying than taking a photo.
There are plenty of times when using a camera is an obvious choice, such as when the subject is fast-moving or when you need to capture a lot of information accurately. But if you have more than a few seconds, you can use a pencil and paper rather than your phone. The result is a physical object, made by hand. However amateur your picture might be, it’s much more satisfying to make something than to record a digital image. Plus there’s extra pleasure from seeing how your drawing skills improve with practice.
If you’d like to spend less time looking at your phone, learning to draw can help. Taking a few minutes to sketch an interesting building or a memorable view means that you’re engaging directly with the world around you, instead of through a screen. And when your hands are busy with a pencil and paper you’re less likely to discover that you’re staring at your phone out of habit.
Anyone can learn to sketch, and all you need to start is a pencil and a piece of paper. Being able to draw won’t turn you into a professional artist (though you might discover a talent), but it will have benefits. You learn to be more attentive and to notice the things and people around you. You gain health benefits from being creative. You stop looking at the world through your phone or feeling that a picture isn’t worthwhile unless it’s got hundreds of likes. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that not only have you learned a new skill, but that you can produce something that’s utterly personal and unique.