Drawing is a great way to ignite your creative momentum and keep it flowing. The more you create, the more new ideas evolve. Plus, putting pen (or drawing medium of your choice) to paper is good for developing both style and technique.
You might already have some good intentions for 2023, hoping to draw every day or week. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to draw and are considering exploring a new medium. But how do you get past that stumbling block of what to draw?
The blank page doesn’t need to loom large if you’re stuck for ideas. Themed creative prompts are a great way to get your drawing momentum bouncing along. It’s also a good way to reignite your flow if you’ve hit a patch of artistic stagnation. And luckily, there’s no shortage of prompts lists and challenges on Instagram to help you get your flow regardless of whether you’re a new, occasional or experienced maker of marks.
Currently, I’m joining in #Whimsuary – a lovely trio of three weekly prompts spread across the first four weeks of the year and broadly mapped to the four seasons. Above are my first three for the last week: raven claws, snow rainbow and foxes at midnight.
Last year, I joined #animaladventuresweek in the summer but was travelling during my favourite #amonthinflowers window (hope to join that one again this April – it’s hosted by one of my favourite paper creatives @blackandtortie). Other fun challenges that I’ve joined in online include: #aprililllustration, #springawakeningmonth, #storybookseptember, #witchtober, #weirdoktober and, when I was first starting to share art on Instagram, #inktober. Some of these are primarily drawing challenges but others, like #amonthinflowers, are hosted by other kinds of crafty creatives.
Themed challenges present great opportunities to get out of your creative comfort zone. Prompt lists usually include lots of subjects that I wouldn’t typically think to draw for Ballettoons. This nudge from my usual repertoire provides openings to stretch myself and come up with more imaginative ideas, while developing a bit more versatility. Win, win.
However, the best reward from participating in drawing challenges is the number of creators you discover that you might not have come across if you (or they) weren’t keeping an eye on the prompt hashtags. There are prompt lists aplenty that attract a range of makers not just those who like to draw. Many of the independent creators that I follow and have bought from online are ones I have met through themed challenges. Every challenge brings new creators onto my radar. It’s a brilliant way to refresh your Instafeed. And if, like myself, you like to shop small, you're bound to come across some new ideas for gifts to buy from independent makers.
I’m no expert on those social algorithms. But, observation of my own social media accounts suggests that there are plenty of reach benefits to taking part in a themed challenge. For example, you’re likely to attract new followers, gain likes from people who don’t usually see your work in their feeds, and breathe some new life into your reach if you’re using some different hashtags to your usual mix.
And, before you make excuses about lacking confidence to share your drawings, my experience with drawing challenges has been that the online creative community is really supportive and encouraging of all levels of skill. If a full challenge seems too daunting to you, keep an eye out for all the #dtiys (draw this in your style) opportunities. Those can be fun too. And they are also a really good way to support other creators by giving them a bit of publicity too.
- Discovering prompt lists – if you’re not sure where to start, search for #drawingchallenge, #promptslist, #drawingprompts or anything along those lines. There are plenty of accounts that share what’s coming up.
- Setting realistic goals – don’t sign up for a list of 365 prompts if this is your first time, even a list of 30 can be quite overwhelming, There are plenty of challenges that run for just a week, or host a few prompts a week rather than daily prompts. One of these might be a better starting point until you know what's realistic for you.
- Planning your posts – draw in advance, allow time to photograph your work if you’re drawing on paper rather than digitally (trust me, photographing drawings takes aaaages) and get your hashtags for the captions lined up and ready to cut and paste.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if you’re joining in any challenges this year. Plus, if you’ve not yet signed up to my newsletter, there’s a form field below to opt in and be first to hear when I've added new collections.