Distinct from artistic works, drawings also don’t need to be finished. Dowd says that one of the perils of digital drawing tools and software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator has to do with “false finish.”  “Because the display technology makes things look cool, they appear ‘finished’ when they’re not.” Draw for yourself, no one is looking.

Draw what’s in front of you

Most basic art classes involve drawing a bowl of fruit. Sketching a still life can foster the muscle for quiet observation, focus, and form-making, and boost one’s confidence. But you don’t even need to scrounge around for an artful arrangement of bananas and apples: Any object within your grasp will do. My seat mate on a recent flight flight from Tokyo to New York, for instance, demonstrated this attitude brilliantly. Before tucking into each meal, she would pull out a sketch book and draw the objects that had arrived on her tray: cans of Asahi beer, a pack of rice crackers, tea poured in flimsy paper cups.

Still life.
Still life.
Image: Reuters/Jason Reed

Follow a prompt

If you’re still stuck on finding a subject, follow the Inktober’s “prompt list.” Conceived every year by illustrator Jake Parker, the 31 words are meant to spark one’s imagination on each day of the month. Here’s this year’s Inktober list, available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Japanese, and Mandarin.

Get drawing.
Get drawing.
Image: Inktober/Jake Parker

Sketch your meeting notes

Next time you’re in a meeting, try “sketchnoting,” a method of visual note taking that involves recording salient points with small doodles and diagrams instead of words.

Some hardcore sketchnote practitioners arm themselves with special pens, markers, and blank notebooks. But don’t let the lack of fancy art materials stop you. Drawing can be done anytime, on any surface. Unless you aspire to be a professional notetaker, you don’t need to watch the videos or tutorials. Just unleash your thoughts and observations on paper.

Start small

If you’re still finding drawing to be intimidating, start with something easy like drawing on a greeting card or sketching out a process diagram in a notebook, or even adding a small caricature of your face after your signature. “If you take a step back, and define drawing as symbolic mark-making, it’s obvious that all human beings draw,” Dowd says. “Diagrams, maps, doodles, smiley faces: these are all drawings!”   

Face with a name.
Face with a name.
Image: Anne Quito/Quartz

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