Drawing on Everything: Discovering Your Creative Voice | SHANTELL MARTIN | Skillshare

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10 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Your Project: Rapid-Fire Drawings

    • 3. Materials

    • 4. Prompt 1: Draw Standing Up

    • 5. Prompt 2: Draw With Music

    • 6. Prompt 3: Draw While Rotating Paper

    • 7. Prompt 4: Draw Blindfolded

    • 8. Prompt 5: Draw While Talking Aloud

    • 9. Drawing Is for Everyone

    • 10. More Creative Classes on Skillshare

186 students are watching this class

About This Class

Draw on everything with celebrated visual artist Shantell Martin. This half-hour class takes you into her NYC studio to explore the projects that inspire her, the markers that move her, and creative prompts she's used with thousands of students to help everyone find their own personal creative voice.

Watch her create a series of rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness drawings, then draw your own "creative sprints" using 5 of her favorite prompts: standing up, with music, while rotating the paper, while blindfolded, and while talking aloud. If you're used to studiously sitting to draw, this is unlike anything you've seen or done before.

This is a class for artists, creators, makers, and everyone looking to kickstart their creativity. No experience or technique needed—just break out a pen, follow the prompts, and let it happen!


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. When learning how to draw, lessons aren’t everything — you also need to have confidence and the ability to embrace spontaneity. In this class, you’ll see how Shantell Martin embodies these abilities in her often performative drawings. She’ll teach you how to develop your own unique style through five drawing prompts.
  • Your project: Rapid-fire drawings. You’ll learn to draw in different — and unexpected — positions as you go over drawing basics with Shantell. She’ll encourage you to reflect on your experiences as you go, drawing shadows, abstract shapes, and whatever else comes to mind.
  • Materials. Using a “low-maintenance” materials list, you’ll set up for Shantell’s five drawing prompts. You’ll get a look at the various pen brands Shantell uses in her work, get tips on how to avoid ink splatter, and see what other miscellaneous materials can come in handy when creating large-scale works.
  • Prompt 1: Draw standing up. For this exercise, you’ll work on a big roll of paper affixed to the wall while learning to overcome mistakes by embracing them. You’ll work on turning abstract shapes into more concrete designs and learn to rely on your gut when it’s time to finish your drawing.
  • Prompt 2: Draw with music. As one of the more fun and abstract drawing lessons, this exercise will teach you not to hesitate in your work. Shantell will encourage you to draw to music you’re comfortable with and to draw with music you’re unfamiliar with to bring you out of your comfort zone.
  • Prompt 3: Draw while rotating paper. This exercise will challenge your preconceived notions of drawing; how to hold the pen, how to hold the paper, and how to hold yourself. You’ll learn what to think about, or rather, not think about—when drawing while rotating your paper so as to best draw your subconscious self into your work.
  • Prompt 4: Draw blindfolded. Not only will you relinquish your sense of sight for this activity, you’ll also give up your dominant hand for an even greater challenge. The idea here is to let you hyperfocus on the activity at hand, drawing, by removing certain sensory distractions. You’ll be able to do this activity by yourself or with a group for a collaborative piece, and you’ll learn some creative prompts for drawing lines with your eyes closed. Hopefully, whatever you come up with will make you laugh.
  • Prompt 5: Draw while talking aloud. Though Shantell will have been doing this all lesson long, you’ll get your first chance to talk out loud while you put pen to paper. You’ll find that this exercise may be best accomplished with a partner, so you can carry on a conversation with that person while doodling something completely unrelated. Your biggest challenge will be to keep up the conversation while you draw anything but what you’re discussing.
  • Drawing is for everyone. You’ll learn to appreciate that drawing isn’t restricted to professional illustrators or art students. Drawing can be used as a tool to help you learn about yourself, make quick decisions, and establish a unique, personal style.


1. Introduction: I'm Shantell Martin and this is drawing on everything on Skillshare. More in my studio at the moment in Tribeca in New York, and I draw, you can tell I draw on everything tables, bikes, shirts, planes, paper, whatever I can get my hands on. I've had this philosophy of drawing on everything. It started from my background. I lived in Tokyo and I worked as a VJ like a visual jockey. So, I would do live drawn digital visuals to DJs and dancers and musicians. But, I think what that gave me is this kind of practice and this experience of drawing live. Because all the visuals that I did was live and it was spontaneous and I didn't have time to think. So, I basically get commissioned to do these larger drawing. They're in companies, they're in homes, they're in schools, they're in institutions. A lot of these events, I do it, there's an audience, is live. So, I like to just kind of interact with people, walk around and hear, what are they talking about? What's the energy of the space? So, that when I finally woke up to this object, to this canvas, to this wall, to this car, the drawing is encompassing everything. I like to work in that, still in that very almost performative, spontaneous intuitive way to the beats and music, or to the atmosphere or the space. So, today we're going to have a class and we have five prompts, five exercises, and it's all about working out a way of being intuitive and spontaneous, work in your language, in your own style, into a piece. It's kind of a closets for everyone, and I know stuff should not be for everyone, but I feel like drawing is for everyone. This class will teach you how to be very confident, very direct and like I say, pour out your own unique, individual style from what you do. So, these are your five prompts and I want you to go away, pick up your pens, and get creating. 2. Your Project: Rapid-Fire Drawings: So today, we're going to have a class and we have five problems, five exercises, five kind of quick sprints you could say. Couple of nose, a couple of eyes, ears. So you could talk about, "Oh, I went to LA and I went to the beach and I'm going to try not to think about this car that I'm drawing." You're going to be creating your own work and you're using these processes or these prompts that I've showed you, but what you're going to all create is going to be really different because you're using your unique style and you're using your characters and your using your words. So, comment. Let's see what everyone else is creating. Comment, leave feedback, and perhaps leave some tips or advice or let them know how your experience went for this. 3. Materials: So material wise, I guess when I'm working, my material list is pretty small. I'm low maintenance. I'll start from the beginning actually. So, when I lived in Japan, I started drawing with these, this one is a Pilot but I would also use a brand called Sakura and this is a 0.05 pen. It's really small. You have to squint to see the nib there. I love drawing with these still and some people might have seen the dream drawings that I do. When I use these, I actually have to really lean in there and get super close. Then I moved to New York and found that my line naturally wanted to grow a little bit and I found these Staedtler pens. I use this to draw my shirts, I use these to draw on my bedroom wall, my bike, my bicycle helmets, some of my shoes. These are great. You can just be a little more fluid and flowy with these and you can just hold these pretty normally as well. I'm a huge fan of Krink and this is a K-71. It's got a little bit of a finer nib. So, that's good for paper, that's good for shoes, if you want a thicker line. The K-71 is something that I use drawing on bottles or helmets and what you're seeing there, sometimes you have to give these guys a little pump so that the ink can come out nicely. But, this is my most used one. So, I go through, I eat these pens basically. I go through so many of them. This is a Krink K-51. So, I usually give these a good shake before I use them and these ones I just refilled, so that's why I have ink all over my hands. Then you can put that down, give it one last push and then you have this really amazing black line there. You just have to be careful. Once you first ink those up, you're more likely to get some drips or something. So, you just have to be careful and think about if that's something that you want in the work or not, and they're grey. There's some other things randomly that I always need around, is black photographic tape and this is great. People are usually worried about walls or you damaging their walls, and I draw a lot with rolls of paper. So, having some photographic tape that's not going rip up the walls is great and people chill out a little bit. Then, I carry a Gerber pen knife something and that's great for cutting tape and all these random things that you need a pen knife for, or a scalpel. For today's exercise is, get a notepad, get a bigger notepad, get a roll of paper, put that on your wall, whatever you want to do. So, that's my pen hit list, the usual suspects. 4. Prompt 1: Draw Standing Up: So, I basically have a roll of paper here. So, let's get some of this tape out. I like to use this photographic tape because you can go straight on the wall. When I'm pulling up the row, here we're just going to do around so high, just so I don't have to get a ladder for this, just tape that there, tape the corners. Okay, that's straight enough for me right now. You can just let that roll down. So, I really enjoy standing up and drawing. You pour a lot of energy into work, you can get some bigger movement and I just think it's healthier to be standing up for part of your job. We have the surface now. I used to be really scared of this space. What happens if you make a mistake? It took me a while but I realize that everything is one big mistake and it's about enjoying the process. So, you've got to be as confident and as bold with your line as possible because this isn't a pencil, you can erase it. So, you never really want to hesitate, you just got to just follow the pen and trust that the pen is going to take you where you need to go. So, now you have this canvas that is full of possibilities and freedom. Like I said, you want to just approach it in a really confident way and because you are standing up, you now have the ability to move and put this energy into the drawing. You can use the high, you can go low but you basically want to create the DNA of the drawing. How I do this, is by being as creative and continuous with the line as possible. So, you can go round, you can do little squiggles in there, if you like. But the idea is that, you just want to create the DNA, this first continuous, as much as possible, string or skeleton to the drawing. Once you've done that, you can then step back and look for the clues. I have a set of characters, I have a set of words and lines that are used and these are recurring in my drawings. You might have your own, you might have a list of characters and words and lines that you use or you can start to discover them and create them yourself. So, for now like I said, the clues are here. So, for me, this is almost like a side of a face. You got this kind of smooth shape there. So, what I'm going to do is, if it's a side of a face, we need to a nose. If you have a nose, you need a mouth. If in here have a mouth, we need two eyes. For me, what else is here? This almost looks like a little piece of land. So, if you've got some land, I'm going to do some trees. Here we go, here are some trees. That's what my trees look like right now. They used to be triangles but now, they're just lines. So, one thing leads to another. So, then I'll just go through and I'll look for those shapes and I'll look for those clues. There's another face there. There's another face there. As I mentioned, words and lines for me are the same thing. So, within my work, you'll see both. When you're trying this, some things to think about is just really getting use to fit in that movement of when you're drawing. This is something that you don't get to experience when you're sitting down. But now you have this opportunity to just really put this movement and really put your energy and really put this kind of force into the drawing and just really take advantage of this opportunity of standing up and use it almost as a workout in a way. Then you just basically going to keep going through here until you feel like you're finished. So, you never really finished a drawing until you have that feeling that creeps up and says stop. I have that feeling that says stop, so I'm going stop, step back from the drawing, and have a look. You're not really going to be able to see the whole thing as you're drawing it because you're this close, so you only really see the whole thing when you step away and that's okay. The important thing that you really want to get out of this is that confident building within the line. So, first you have to get over this factor, "Oh, this is all scary. What if I make a mistake?" You're going to learn that, "Hey, I'm just going to have fun with this, it's all about the process, it's all one big mistake but I'm going to enjoy it." Once you realize that, you get to just really build up practice of being confident with the line and that's what we really want here, is that we just really want you to build up practice of having a really strong confident line that isn't hesitating, that you are following and filling up the whole space in. 5. Prompt 2: Draw With Music: One thing that I like to try and I guess this is how I started my career is creating live drawn visuals to DJs and dancers and musicians, so essentially creating visuals for music. Okay let's turn the volume up here. So basically, when you're going to create a drawing, if you're drawing to music that you're used to, a music that you enjoy listening to, it's comfortable. You're going to create work or lines or words that are comfortable to you. That music for me is either on the more chilled side or it's more minimal techno kind of music, but even that music has a nice kind of repetition or something familiar and comfortable to me. So that was really fun. I'm drawing to some music that I like. I'm joined with some music that I'm very comfortable with. Now look, these lines are familiar to me, this kind of design, smooth comfortable swirly lines and some words that I'm very familiar with, some words that I like great, I enjoy that. But what happens if I draw to some music that I'm not familiar with? What happens if I draw to some music that I might not necessarily like? Alright. So what do I really dislike? Let's just try some heavy metal or something like that. I can't keep going there. When you're enjoying some music you have to realize that you're instrument. So when you're listening, you don't have to just be very static. You can be moving your head, you can be moving your feet. You're using that music to help you bounce. That's the whole point for me, for drawing to music is that it brings that extra spring, it brings that extra step, it brings that extra kind of rhythm and bounce into the work. By listening to something typically that you might personally not listened to, like death metal for me, it creates this different energy in the work. Going back to that idea of wanting to have a confident line, this is a really great way of practicing your confidence because you notice that when the music's playing you're almost like a performer. You're a musician. You've got to go in there and you've got to create because if you stop or you try and think about what you're doing, there's a delay, the audience is potentially waiting for you and nothing happens. So you just have to attack it like you're performing, you're a musician, you're a dancer, you're a singer. You just keep going on. You create lines that I typically personally wouldn't ever create listening to music that I'm very comfortable with. Then this is really great, puts you in a position where you're unconsciously practicing being spontaneously, working spontaneously and being intuitive. Personally, I would suggest doing it in short bursts. So if you're going to draw firstly to music that you like just to see what that looks like, draw for a minute. Draw for two minutes. But you don't really need to draw for any longer than that. Then when you're going to move on to music that you wouldn't usually listen to or perhaps music that you dislike, same thing, draw for a minute, draw for two minutes. Because you're drawing and you're not thinking about what you're drawing because you're drawing and you're being spontaneous and you're being very quick, is that you're going to start to see what you really look like, you're going to start to see what your line really feels like and looks like. This is me very comfortable, this is me being not so comfortable. But there is a consistency throughout these that is essentially my line. That's something that you're going to be able to start to see at the end of this kind of exercise. 6. Prompt 3: Draw While Rotating Paper: So, another thing to think about is, when we're drawing, we sometimes feel that we have to be in this position, and we have to hold the pen like this, and we have to draw on the paper like this. Going back to the idea of standing up and drawing is that, you bring a different kind of energy into the world. Another way that you can practice that, or another way that you can experience creating lines and creating words is by rotating yourself, or rotating the work, rotating the paper, rotating the pad, rotating the object that you're drawing on. So, for example, I'm just going to create a nice drawing on here. But, instead of rotating myself, I'm just going to rotate the pad, and this is a good way to practice a continuous line. But, is also just mainly just to get you out of the habit of approaching things from the same way. Because remember, we want to get you in a position where you're doing stuff that's different, you're doing stuff that will pull a little bit of you out of you and put it on the paper, so we can start to see what you look like. This is a really fun way that I create new DNA. So, for example, now I have this DNA, which I possibly could not have created if I just did this statically. So, I just put a new kind of perspective in it by rotating the paper, and if I wanted to, I could rotate and that will give it a complete different field to him. Then, I go in and I'll draw my my list of usual characters and suspects. So, this is just one thing I want you to think about. I'll stress that idea that lines and words are the same thing. So, you could just have the paper down and you could rotate that, but instead of doing lines, you could do words, and they can go round and round and round, and you don't necessarily have to think about what you're writing, they can also be very free and spontaneous just like the drawing. So, I've no idea what I'm writing, no idea what's going to happen, but that's the fun of it. Because then, if I don't know what I'm doing and if I'm not planning what I'm doing, then that means what is happening is me. I can't be thinking about drawing like someone else, or I can't be thinking about trying to copy something else, I can't be thinking about anything really. I just have to create this and see where it goes. As you can see, I'm talking and drawing, which is great. Because it means I'm really not thinking about what I'm drawing because if I was I couldn't talk about it and draw it at the same time. So, let's just keep going round, and see what happens. Shape line, now I'm thinking about what I'm writing. So, I'm going to stop, keep talking again. See, see, there you go. So, it's just another way to approach it from a different perspective and from a different angle to create something new that is essentially you. So, by doing something like this, by talking and drawing, or by rotating and drawing, you get to experience creating stuff without thinking about it. That's one thing that we want to do. We just want to really get you out of that habit of thinking too much about what you're going do because that's when you start to hesitate. That's when you start to question things. We just want you to do these things and do it and do it and do it, and build up this practice because then you have all this work that you can back on, and then you can really start to see what is consistent throughout everything. Because that consistent thing is essentially you, and that's what we want to pull out. 7. Prompt 4: Draw Blindfolded: So, I teach a workshop called Drawing On Everything. One thing or I guess one exercise that I teach in this workshop is blindfold drawing. There's usually between 10-20-30 people in this workshop and I'll throw them all a tie and say okay. Then I tell them, okay, now that tie is going to become a blindfold. So now they are like ah. So, they put on the blindfold and we do a series of blindfolded exercises. This is really fun because if you're seeing what you're doing your more aware of what you're doing and you're more aware of creating these mistakes if you believe in mistakes. So, you're a little more kind of hesitant. But when you blindfolded you take that away and you just have to create what you're drawing. So, I'll do some exercises where, okay, imagine your either at a table or you're at a wall and you're blindfolded. I want you to pick up a pen. I want you to hold it in the hand that you usually don't write with and the hand that you usually don't draw with and I want you to draw around your other hand. So for me I would pick it up in my left hand and I would draw around my right hand. Try not to go off the paper onto the wall or try not to go off the notepad onto the table. Once I've done that, now I say great. Okay. Now, I'll say, okay, everyone draw some squares or draw some triangles and I put music on, so bounce to the music, bounce to the beat and draw these squares and draw these triangles. I'll just close my eyes and do it. But there's music playing, you're bouncing to the beat, you're drawing these squares, you're drawing these triangles. Okay, stop. Then I'll say, well, draw the route that you took from home to work or draw the route that you got from home to this workshop or to this space, and go. Then they'll kind of map out walking to the train station, getting down stairs, getting on the train, going downtown, getting off the stairs, walking through Tribecca somewhere, and then get in here. Okay. What was your first pet or a pet that you've really enjoyed? Go. Most people draw cats because I think they're easier. So, they're cheating. They draw a nose, couple of eyes, ears, mouth. Okay. Draw a self portrait. Me, that's easy. Just a mouth, lots of hair. This is great, because they don't really get to see. I'm laughing now because I can see. But then we have this kind of big reveal. So, after we've done probably maybe 10 or 15 of these smaller exercises, then we'll take off the blindfolds and you get to see these bigger, interesting, strange, quirky, and most of the time collaborative drawing because there's more than one person drawn at one time. You can try this by yourself, but it's actually really fun to try with a couple of people or many people if you can get them together. So, for example if I'm blindfolded and I'm having someone else shout out these exercises for me, it's very hard for you to be thinking about too much stuff. So, because you're kind of you've taken one sense away, all your focus is immediately on what you have to do now, which is really great because you kind of become hyper-focused on just this kind of exercise of drawing around your hand or drawing squares or drawing your favorite pet or drawing your route home or the route that you got to the workshop. So, you just become really focused on this one task that you have to do. So, that's usually a really good exercise to do with the blindfold, or in this case with the tie. 8. Prompt 5: Draw While Talking Aloud: Going back to this idea of talking aloud when you're drawing. It's really good practice. You could even do this with two people because there might be a little strange if you're talking to yourself. But there's a really good exercise which is just talking and drawing, and you could have a friend come over, drink some tea or whatever, and you could start to talk about the weather. But as you're talking about the weather, you actually have to draw something that is completely unrelated to the weather or you could have a conversation about breakfast but you have to draw something that is completely unrelated to breakfast and keep that conversation going. So, maybe you'll decide that okay we need to draw cars while we talk about, what's the subject I can think about, while you talk about your holiday on the beach? So, you could talk about, Oh you know I went to LA and I went to the beach, and I try not to think about this car that I'm drawing. This is just a really fun exercise with one person in a group or in threes or fours because you just really get to focus on using this other type of your brain, on this other side of your brain where you're trying to use your brain here but you're also trying to use your brain there. It's just really interesting to see the results of what happens with that., 9. Drawing Is for Everyone: Sometimes, people feel like drawing is for people who draw or drawing is for illustrators and designers and it's not for everyone, but I think we're starting to see now that there is definitely a benefit to drawing. I say to adults sometimes, "How can you not do something as an adult that you could do as a three-year-old?" Drawing just didn't get more difficult. It's just that you became less confident at that skill. It's really important to understand that this skill that we had as a three year old or this skill that we had as a four year old, really has benefits within our life creatively, when we want to work spontaneously, and intuitively, and make these very quick decisions. Drawing is a really good tool to key that in. There's for everyone and there is benefit in there for everyone. Then, also just finding out a little bit more about your identity. Sometimes people say to me, "Shantell, I can only draw a stick man." And I'm like, "Great. If you can only draw stick man, then you draw that sick-man 5,000 times and you're going to look at that stick man and you're going to recognize that that's your stick man." Because if I draw a stick man 5,000 times, it's going to look like my stick man and I own it and you own yours. So, even if you can only draw stick man, own it. Do it over and over again until it really feels like you. So, you're all going to be creating your own work and you're using these processes or these prompts that I've showed you. But what you're going to all create is going to be really different. Because you're using your unique style and you're using your characters and your using your words. So comment, let's see what everyone else is creating. We need comment, need feedback, and perhaps leave some tips or advice or let them know how your experience went for this. 10. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: