DIY: Gestural Drawing for a Calmer Mind

Posted by Sabrina Shelby | Sep 8, 2017 | DIY | 0 |

If you’ve ever taken an art class, you’ve probably been introduced to the gestural drawing and might be rolling your eyes. Gestural drawing is a drawing exercise meant to help the artist truly see their subject as they draw. You don’t have to be an artist or a “good drawer” to try this activity. You might even find you like how the end product looks, or at least, have a giggle over your wacky looking drawing.

Whenever we did these exercises in art classes, it would drive me nuts. I thought it was dumb and a waste of time. I’m still not crazy about them, but that’s because I tend to focus on outcomes and am a total control freak. Neither of which are traits I like about myself.

So, I force myself to do a gestural drawing from time to time.

First off, as an artist, gestural drawings really do help you see your subject better and as a result usual helps improve your drawing skills.

I’ve also really grown to like it as a mindfulness activity. It helps me focus my monkey brain and quiet things down. All my attention is on the details of what I’m looking at and the movement of my hand. A whole mess of feelings come up, and I get to acknowledge their presence and then let them go.

What You Need To Get Started

  • Paper
  • Drawing utensil (pen, pencil, parker, crayon, you get the idea)

How To Do A Gestural Drawing

Grab your paper, a drawing tool, have a sit, and pick something in your immediate surroundings to draw. 

Now, look at that thing, and without looking at your paper, start drawing what you see. It helps if you don’t lift your pencil or pen while you try and transfer the image from your eyes, through your arm, to the paper.

Pretty easy. The hardest part is resisting the (sometimes unrelenting) urge to look down at your drawing.

How It Works As A Mindfulness Activity

When doing a gestural drawing, your attention and eyes are fixed on the subject of your drawing. You don’t even look at your drawing while you do this. Even as an art exercise, it isn’t about the finished product.

It is all about paying attention to things you might miss because your focus is divided. You’ll probably be very tempted to see how things are going, but do your best not to look at your doodle until you’re finished. 

While doing the drawing, thoughts and feelings will pop up. Being mindful is all about being present with your mind and body. Let your thoughts and feelings happen, but try not to react to them. Notice your feelings and thoughts, but bring your attention back to your subject and drawing. 

Some thoughts that might pop into your head during this exercise include:

“OMG, this is going to look so awful!”

“I’m hungry. Did I forget to eat breakfast this morning?”

“This isn’t relaxing at all. Why did I even listen to that weirdo on the internet?”

“I can’t wait to see how this looks!”

“Gee, I never noticed how hideous this chair is”

“This is THE most AMAZING thing ever and that girl on the internet is a total genius!”

Plus many more!

Give it a try, and you’ll be a mindfulness meditation jedi master in no time.


You can find more of Sabrina Shelby’s DIY projects at The Active Koala.


This post was created with the help of Grammarly.


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