Why I Draw

Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios
An example of one of my “I am stressed right now and need help” sketchbook drawings.

 

I talk about drawing a lot. I talk about how to draw, how to draw more, how to draw this, how to draw that, how to get over your fears of drawing…

But what about why we should draw?

This is going to sound melodramatic, but I say this in all seriousness: Drawing has had a profound impact on my life. Without drawing, I don’t know who I would be, where I would be, or how I would deal with everything that happens in life.

Drawing is the most powerful tool I have.

But again, why? Why is it so powerful? What does drawing do for me? I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time, and here’s my answer:

 


 

Drawing helps me manage my emotions. It helps me clear my head by reflecting on and clarifying my thoughts and feelings. I often feel weird, wonky, or off, but the moment I begin drawing, those negative feelings melt away. It helps me navigate toxic thoughts and feelings. It is my therapy.

Drawing helps me move from Closed Mode to Open Mode. This is a theory on Modes of Operation developed by comedian/actor, John Cleese. Closed Mode is an anxious, tense state, where we feel we have so much to do and will never get it all done. Open Mode is a more relaxed state where we’re introspective and playful, allowing curiosity to bubble up, and pressure to lift. I spend a whole lotta time in Closed Mode, so I need drawing to help me move over to Open Mode.

Drawing helps me discover, reflect on, and express myself. It helps me learn about myself. It helps me feel more happy and confident, and has given me an extra sense of identity and purpose in life. It keeps me honest with myself. It’s how I grow. It helps me discover my voice. It lets me express and share that voice. It feeds something deep down inside of me.

Drawing helps me reduce stress and calms my anxiety. If I begin a drawing feeling agitated, grumpy, and stressed out, I always end a drawing feeling more relaxed, content, and at peace. I draw the stress. I draw my negative thoughts. Sometimes literally. And as the negativity leaves my pen, it leaves me. It is my release.

Drawing helps me focus on what’s important. I often feel overwhelmed with work, to-do lists, and calendar appointments. Drawing my worries and thoughts helps me realize how unimportant all of those worries really are in the grand scheme of life. It reminds me how good life is. It brings me gratitude.

Drawing helps me be more present. It helps me anchor myself in the present moment, rather than dwelling in the past and stressing about the future. It makes me slow down. It helps me get out of my head and makes me more connected to the world around me.

Drawing empowers me with confidence. It reminds me that I am in control of my life, my thoughts, and my feelings. It gives me a sense of accomplishment for having made something. It makes me feel more secure with who I am.

Drawing gives me energy. It hurtles me into the flow state of mind. It gives me ideas for bigger projects. It makes me feel more awake and more alive.

Drawing connects me to others. It let’s me focus on my Self, and then move past my Self. It encourages me to see beauty in everything. It makes me more optimistic.

 


 

It doesn’t matter what I draw. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.

The act of drawing makes me happier.

I am not a perfect person. I have anxious thoughts, I get overwhelmed daily, I can sometimes be pessimistic, I can get stuck in my own head, I can retreat from the world, I can feel insecure, I can feel powerless, I can feel lethargic, I can be grumpy, I can be hangry, I can let my emotions control my actions and thoughts, I can let the stress bubble over, I can focus on only myself and my problems.

I am so very imperfect.

But that is precisely why I need drawing.