Live Encore: Easy Drawing Exercises to Brighten Your Day | Jordan Sondler | Skillshare

Live Encore: Easy Drawing Exercises to Brighten Your Day

Jordan Sondler, Artist and Illustrator

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5 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:51
    • 2. Inside Jordan’s Visual Journal

      7:15
    • 3. Exercise One: Draw Your Fears

      14:53
    • 4. Exercise Two: Draw What Uplifts You

      16:24
    • 5. Final Thoughts

      1:19
27 students are watching this class

About This Class

Unlock calm and creativity with two easy drawing exercises you can use anytime, anywhere! 

Following up on her popular Skillshare Original, Visual Journaling: Drawing Your Feelings, artist and illustrator Jordan Sondler shares two exercises that have been particularly valuable to her in processing emotions, taking care of her mental health, and finding hope during stressful times. 

In this 40-minute class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—she draws right along with you, sharing her fears, what’s making her happy, and how practices like these can nurture your creativity and your emotional wellbeing. You’ll walk away from the conversation with a sense of relief and a therapeutic tool you can return to again and again.

Along the way, students were able to ask questions about how Jordan keeps the inner critic at bay when drawing something so vulnerable, how she’s integrated these prompts into a regular ritual, and why anyone—even folks who don’t think of themselves as artists—can benefit from regularly drawing it out. 

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All you need to participate is something to draw with and something to draw on. (And some feelings!) While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: There's no way to not feel some sense of relief with doing these drawings in addition to therapy. This is my therapy. Hi, I'm Jordan Sondler. I'm an Illustrator and mental health advocate living in quarantine in Brooklyn, New York with my Pomeranian, Ramona Singer. You might have seen my work on my Instagram, in my visual journaling SkillShare class, my book, Feel it Out, or somewhere else on the Internet. Today, we're going to focus on visual journaling. So visual journaling, to me, is putting text to images. I've never been able to form a practice where I'm just writing down my feelings, so the best way of me representing that as a creative person is to draw my feelings and to also put words to them. Today, we're going to be talking about what uplifts us and what we fear. Not only does it feel very therapeutic to get my feelings out visually, it feels like a really nice way to make sure that I'm making personal work. You absolutely do not have to identify as an artist to find value in these exercises. Actually, I think that you can take away so much, maybe even more from these exercises if you are not an artist. It's just about making yourself vulnerable and not getting caught up with how this turns out looking. All you need to participate today is something you draw with and something you draw on. Something to note, this class was recorded live and I got to interact with the audience as I was drawing. Let's get started. 2. Inside Jordan’s Visual Journal: Welcome to everyone who is joining today. My name is O' Brien. I'm a producer on Skillshare's content and classes team. We're super, super excited to have Jordan here today. Well, Jordan, thank you so much, really excited to actually do some hands-on drawing with you today. Before we dive into that, I want to frame the conversation a little bit more for people who aren't super familiar with Visual journaling like what that is. I'm curious. For you, what is that and how did you develop your approach to it? Sure. Maybe one of the best ways for me to explain it is to show it. So this is actually specifically my fear journal. If any of you guys have taken the class already, you know one of the exercises is drawing your fears. I actually found at the beginning of quarantine, just a sketchbook that I never use. Typically, I'm drawing on loosely sheets of paper but I decided to challenge myself and keep this in a book. So I have been keeping that here and basically, I'll show you my process once we dive into a fear exercise today of making a list and drawing inspiration from that list. Anytime I want to draw one of my fears, if I don't have something very specific on my mind at the time. I set everything up in the same format, as you can see pick a limited color palette, which I'll also talk about when we get started. Yes, so this journal is specific to my fears but those aren't the only feelings that I draw. That's awesome. There's something pretty special in the combination of visual and journaling, for you why not just create 3D Art or why not just write in a journal? What does that combo give you, I guess creatively or personally in your life? Sure. I haven't been able to maintain a routine anytime I've tried to just journal. I even noticed actually a few months ago, I was at home with my family and I was going through things in the basement, I found old diaries. I'm always been this way, I'll start something up and I'll make it like 10 pages through and abandon that, and that was happening all the time when I would just try to write my feelings. Then I don't know, only a couple of years ago did it really click that I can work through my emotions, through art. I've been doing that forever but I didn't really think of it in terms of art-therapy. Actually, personally don't know that much about art-therapy because I'm not a mental health professional. But in addition to therapy, this is my therapy. Like putting words to something, reading the words, just challenging myself to get it out, write it out, but then also visually documenting, that has been really helpful. Michaela has a great question. She asks, what made you want to share your visual journals especially your fears with the world? For somebody who feels anxious or daunted by actually sharing this. What made you go for that? Instagram is a really big part of my business and a few years ago, the only way I could get back into making personal work was by drawing my feelings. This was the only thing that would work for me. So I need to be posting on Instagram but this is all I wanted to draw, so this is going on Instagram. Then when I shared it, people liked it a lot more than I thought they would. So I kept going with it for many reasons, mostly because it makes me feel good. But then when I realized that people could be doing things like this themselves and I can be helpful, that got me really excited about creating the class for you guys. Earlier during quarantine, I released like a zillion sold down earlier off my Instagram. A template like that, daily journaling template that's similar to this, but there's some more creating, some more prompts in there. I don't know, seeing that stuff like this works for people outside of myself makes me want to keep going. Awesome. We're excited to get started for people who do want to follow along, what materials should they go and gather? So in terms of what you're drawing on, it can be anything. It could be a piece of paper, notebook, posted, if that's all you have. Oh my God, I love these markers. They're some of my favorites, they're Tombow, they're dual tip. This is a thickened, this is a really skinny and for fine details like hand lettering, they are the best. In terms of what colors you choose to use today, I really love to utilize a limited color palette, it makes things feel really cohesive. If you're going to be doing several different drawings, it's also a really good way to not feel so overwhelmed. If you have 20 different color markers in front of you like I do, just grab three or four or five, whatever you want. I'm not going to police you here on this. I'm going to use three today. I just randomly picked this though, I will say, that they are some of my favorite colors. That's all you need, you just need something write write with and then something to write on. Amazing and some feelings, which we all have. Some guess we all have. Just because I didn't mentioned other drawing utensils doesn't mean you couldn't use something that is not a Tombow pen. You can use a mechanical pencil, you could use your blood, you could use whatever it works. I love the fact that this is such a customizable. You essentially you just need you. You can do it anywhere. You could do it at the VMV, you could do it at home right now. On the couch or the bathroom, all the rooms although. I haven't tried in the bathroom, I think it will work. My bathroom is really small. Well, amazing, let's get started. 3. Exercise One: Draw Your Fears: In this first exercise, we're going to be drawing our fears. To start, I want to tell you all about my fear list. You can make a list like this. I did it on a scrap piece of paper, full disclosure. I just want you to know, I practice what I preach. You can move literally use whatever. This is something you can keep around like maybe you woke up from a nap and you had a dream about something, or you're walking down the street and you're like me and you plug things into your Notes app. Anything, really. This is for any of you guys who get really caught up in what you're going to draw. Looking at a blank piece of paper, you're intimidated. This is like our insurance policy that that's not going to happen. You don't have to draw from a fear list but for you all who are about to ask me, "What do I draw if I don't know what to draw?" You can, in the future, make this list. I'm sorry that you didn't make it ahead of time, but it's all in the process. Today, I'm going to draw an iteration of this. You'll also notice that some of these don't even make sense because I just got it out of my head and onto the piece of paper. I'm going to go forward with, "I fear change but the promise of change is the only thing that gets me up in the morning." I'm going to challenge myself to shorten that copy, somehow. We're going to start this out. Sorry, for anyone who is not excited at that noise. I learned from my class that some of you love it and some of you do not love it. This can be totally imperfect. As you can tell, mine is imperfect. Then we're going to make this section at the bottom, that's where our text is going to go. This is where imagery is going to go. Sometimes, I find the most challenging thing for myself as honestly just putting the copy down here. That's what I'm going to start with first. If you are using these markers, this is a really great end to be drawing your type with. That's what I'm going to do. I just want to reiterate that this is for you, this doesn't have to be perfect at all, and you don't ever have to show this to anyone. Do you ever practice writing it out on a separate piece of paper before? Or really not? Yeah, I try to be relatively uninhibited by this. I'm so interested in the concept of people taking these classes, utilizing these exercises who don't identify as artists because I think that you can probably jump into this and not feel like you need to make everything so perfect, and look like your style that you use for your clients, and blah, blah, blah. By not drawing it out ahead of time and by not getting mad at myself for making weird mistakes, that's the way that I tried to achieve that. That's the closest I can get to it. That's like drawing with the markers versus drawing digitally which I'm usually doing. You can't erase it. There's no control Z. Control Z? Yeah. Yeah. I use the computer every day, all day, but I don't remember what that function is. I fear change but the promise of change. I think if you're not talking while you're writing this too there's a really good chance that you're going to write it correctly and it's going to look fine. I was going to say, I will not bombard you with questions while you're trying to [inaudible] Of course not. I could say the alphabet if that would have some challenge. This is like married life, very real. It's pretty awesome to see the process that goes into your art, to see it live and know that yeah, this really is just something that can happen in five minutes or in 10 minutes, like [inaudible] put it onto paper out of your head. Yeah, I think it can be really good to challenge yourself to do this on a timeline. Obviously, we're doing that today. Let me just make sure this makes sense. I fear change but the promise of change is the only thing that gets me up in the morning. Wow, I wrote that and it was correct. I can have a conversation with myself and you, and have, I don't know, 85 other people watching at the same time. I'm very proud of myself. We're going to do this in 10 minutes. I probably went through half of that just talking. But this is something that you could do in 45 minutes, two hours. I don't know, again, no one is keeping track of you. Now, this is also a really hard part. I told you that what we did right now was hard, but figuring out what we're going to draw is a little hard. Because when I approached this, I'm thinking of it in a more editorial sense than I ever have before. It's like how do you convey visually aside from the text like what you're trying to say. That's not something you have to worry about, especially because it's for yourself but it's something I like to challenge myself to do. I think there are different layers to this and if you identify as an artist or you want to push yourself further, that's something you can consider. If this is your first time starting out and you're just looking for an outlet, you can draw whatever, you can draw a frowning face, it's totally fine. You need to just make this work for you, basically. I know what I'm going to draw. It's not really reinventing the wheel, but it's okay. Jordan, something you talk about in your class and that we've talked about in our conversations is how powerful it can be to find beauty in things that are bad or scary or feel ugh. By putting it down on the page, it's like you're inherently making something that's beautiful. I think even just being able to accept the feelings is a beautiful thing. Even just the process of doing it, being able to be honest with yourself and vulnerable. That's fantastic too. Yeah. Exactly, and I've been going to therapy for 100 years, I think actually 16, and I still have trouble with that all the time and I want to assume that everyone else does. I mean, the beauty of beat fears. People are sharing in the chat. Fear of the unknown, fear of not living up to my potential, being a burden to loved ones, loneliness. One of these that I do not relate to. I know. Our fears are often so universal. Yes, exactly. That's also a really good thing about this. Like getting it down and realizing that they're universal truths, like all of us can pretty much relate to these things. There's one person here that says, I'm scared to draw anything, inner voice is so mean. I know that inner critic. That's what you draw. I mean, that's a fear to put on your list if that's not your fear right now. But yeah, I think just go with it. Just take solace in the fact that maybe whenever people are not watching you draw right now, I had no idea before five seconds ago what I was going to draw. You should be able to take a leap of faith and not everything you draw is going to be amazing. You're faking it very well. Thanks. It's just practice. The more you do this, the less you'll hold on to. I'm a very anxious person but just practicing, practicing and I don't know, and you get used to taking more chances, like making yourself vulnerable. Yeah. Can you talk us through a bit what you are drawing? Yeah. So I'm drawing myself in bed and half of my self is excited by change or excited to get out of bed and the other half feels paralyzed by the feeling. I'm representing this but, I've done this before in some other drawings, not this exact same thing but I split the colors so that it feels like two different moods if that makes sense. Yeah, absolutely. Also, a great thing you can tell about these markers, like actually wasn't planning on drawing on top of one color with the other but they take so well. I'm not sponsored by Tombow, but I am just so obsessed with Tombow, anytime I do drawing stuff. I also love Sakura, they make really good markers. After this maybe you will be sponsored by Tombow. We can only hope. No. You would think. We'll see. Do you always draw with some sort of frame or border around or why do you find that helpful? I identify this practice of art for me as like template drawing and that's something I only started doing for these feelings exercises. I'm not usually doing this. I don't know. I guess it's starting to happen a little bit in my client work, my other work. It just started with this because it feels like a lot less daunting to me to have parameters. Like I'm only using three colors and I only have to take up this amount of space. I need to have structure. Amen. [inaudible] the weekends. But it feels like when a lot of the guesswork is already taken out of it for you, it just doesn't feel as hard to me. It's easier to just get started. Nicole in the chat says, yeah, her fear of making mistakes. So many of these fears it seems like also if you are doing art that brings fear of making mistakes or I got the unknown of a blank page. That brings up a whole other world of fears too. I think it's about figuring out how to trick yourself. It's great. It's like we're just holding ourselves back, in that sense. I don't know what this is. This is rains. Over here, it's stars. Again, this is not going into a museum. We do not have to be super proud and excited by what we are making right now but it's not really about that honestly. [inaudible] representing it. It can honestly feel like you could draw it thinking about like charades, no, Pictionary, that's the game. Charades. You can represent in any way. Honestly, I've been so inspired going through all the student work from the classes, everyone approaches it so differently. Even if you guys are using templates, everything looks so different and it's really beautiful. This is awesome. You used two colors there. That was by accident. I was going to use three, but happy mistakes. Happy accidents. Yeah. Happy accidents, that's the phrase. Amazing. How long, Jordan, should people spend on this for the purposes of this exercise? I know we have another one to move onto, so is this something that people can come back to? Absolutely. You can come back to this. It's probably hard to absorb what I'm saying even though what I'm saying isn't like, I don't know what I'm trying to say. Multitasking, of course. [inaudible] It's fun and hard to pay attention, and to draw, and to think about what you're going to draw at the same time. So to come back to this, the point is just to give you the tools to move forward and do this. Whether you're just doing it right after the class, whether you're going to take this through the summer or in your life. You can really continue working on this as long as you like but we're going to continue on to our second prompt. 4. Exercise Two: Draw What Uplifts You: For this second exercise, we'll focus on what uplifts us. So you guys are probably familiar with this if you've taken the class or just see my work on Instagram. This is I mostly draw two different versions or I draw two different templates, like the fear drawing template, and sometimes I'll manipulate that to be for other different emotions. Then I'll also do this quarter grid fun thing. This is what I want, which is an exercise from the class. But today, we're going to do what uplifts me. So taking the same markers again. I'm going to use this, so just for the sake of consistency. Again, we're going to draw a square or rectangle. It's going to be imperfect, unless you're really good at drawing rectangles. We're going to quarter it. So it's like half the work is done for us. I'm going to take this in the end. For those who can't fully see, what are you writing? It says what uplifts me and maybe I'll draw up of it. Is it hard to read? Yeah, I think it's readable. The salmon color. Yeah. Shoot. Well, it says what uplifts me. You're not going to have to worry about if people can see it over video. So use whatever color you want. I'm going to start drawing with the darker one now. You can make a list much like our fear list. I made a little cheat list, but I'm not going to show you, it's like on the back of a receipt. Again, re-purposing everything in my mountain recently. So a lot of things you can go as deep, and I should have said those about the fear, you can go as deep as you want. It can be at surface level as you want to. Again, this is just for video. It's wherever you're comfortable with. Maybe after a few times of practicing these exercises, you're going to move into a place that feels more personal. Really that is for you to decide. So can we work on this and not talk about what's going on in the world. So one of the things that is uplifting me is watching my friends take action. What's up lifting you right now? That's a great question. What is uplifting everyone? For me, I mean, yes, seeing everyone take action in their own ways, it's definitely heartening. Yeah. You could be peanut ice cream. My Caramel macchiato from Starbucks. Puppies. Yeah, I'd love all of those things in my life. Yes. Are you drawing something like a different uplift in each quadrant? Oh, yes sorry is yeah, I probably should have said that. So each of the four quadrants are going to have a different thing that uplifts me. So we're not focusing on just one, and for our purposes today and what I've done a lot in the past is to exercise pretty quickly. I'm going to try to do it in 10 minutes or less. But so we probably need to get our point across, you can work on it for longer though, of course. Yeah. I think I love what you said that there is nothing too big or too small, because I feel like with fears, that's just often a much bigger thing, and then it seems tough, at least for me, to find something uplifting than seems like it has the same magnitude as these fears. Totally. Recently, I don't feel very uplifted, I don't feel very happy. But this is the equivalent of practicing gratitude, thinking about the things that are good, that are positive, because there's always something in there. So it might serve as like a really good reminder. I don't know. It's flat. Yeah. Nicole asks in the chat if you ever sketch your ideas first or do you draw straight into your journal? Similar to that, I'm curious, do you even know when you start what's going to go in all the quadrants or are you just [inaudible] Yes. The answer is no to everything. I mean, I dismiss it and just say it's because I don't like to plan and I'll just procrastinate. But I think there's something too, just like getting started and seeing where it goes. I think that's part of it, that's part of what's really going to help you feel like there's some sort like you're being true to yourself here. It's not to say you can't sketch it out, but I'm not particularly concerned about it looking a certain way. Truly treating it like a journal, like you'd open the page and you write what comes out. Like look, I can't even say it when I'm writing the message, I can't even fit it the way I want to, but it's not about that. Yeah, I'm just being very real here with you guys. This is seen as the action. If I had more time, I'd be drawing more people. It's like you can really see how you could spend a lot of time on this or not. Normally I'd be concerned about like filling the space, but okay. So onto the next one, which is going to be hanging out in the park. So this is a great example of it's a mix, it's a mix of things, elaborate on your work. So it's been really nice, as the weather gets nicer. We're still in quarantine here in New York, hopefully everywhere. Michelle says that mushroom quesadillas are uplifting her which- Sounds amazing. I want one of those. I have been into making quesadillas in quarantine. Yes. They're so good. Any vehicle for salsa really. Well, I was going to say for cheese, but yeah. Yeah, that too, for every good thing. Jordan, I'm curious, how often do you use these exercises in your life when you're not working on a project or teaching a class? It fluctuates. There are times where I'm using them a lot. It can be really hard to make the time for it. As someone who is making art for clients all the time, sometimes I just don't want to be drawing, if that makes sense. But I find it to be so helpful and I feel a lot more at peace when I am doing those. I try not to get mad at myself when I fall out of the habit because I always know it's there. It feels like riding a bike, coming back to it, especially having the perimeters outlined. There's not that much guesswork jumping back into it. How did you first develop the templates, the parameters that you use? I don't even know. I drew it. I'm sure I was inspired by something I saw. That's the thing. I feel like, at least for me, there is no way to have a truly unique idea. Well, this was a couple of years ago, so I don't really know. It's funny because I mentioned earlier that I was going through old diaries a few months ago and I saw that there were templates that you could fill out that weren't that different. It wasn't exactly this, but there was a lot of stuff that was guided and it's like, write it here, draw here. There's always been an iteration of those. It's just like bringing my own. This is not a unique tactic. I don't think I created anything, but I also don't know where it came from. It's probably just from a lot of information I've taken in. Amazing. Let's keep drawing for about four more minutes. For everybody that's following along too, while Jordan is finishing up her beautiful piece here, I think it's really awesome to see other people's projects and realize that some of these things that we're feeling are pretty universal. I'd really encourage you to go ahead and upload your project to the Project Gallery and check out what everyone else is making too. Can't wait to see. At least if you're me. I'm speaking from only my experience. There is no way to not feel some sense of relief with doing these drawings. Even doing it while talking, I feel like it's calmed me. You can even believe that. I feel like it's one thing to acknowledge that it feels really great in the moment, but it can be hard to motivate yourself to keep doing this regularly. How do you get yourself to come back? I think it's all about what works for you personally. For me, it's leaving out the stack of paper and the markers on my kitchen table, so anytime when I'm unwinding, and maybe I'm watching TV and I'm doing this. It's really all about you, all about making it work for you. But you could totally put it in your calendar. I think if you gave yourself a book like this that you were filling out and you left that out, that might be helpful. You know you. Everything about this is super personalized and it's giving you the tools to do it. Just showing you how I do it. But you can take it and run with it. Love that. What are you drawing in this one? The fourth one? Well, the earth one. This is the [inaudible] change. So this is globe. Well, that is done, kind of. My home. The most complicated for last. Well, I'll do a real quick sketch of my view of my home right now, which I'm sitting at my kitchen table which is also my kitchen, my dining room, living room, all the rooms basically are the same. Brooklyn apartment. Yeah, exactly. I'm staring into my kitchen. There's a fruit bowl. This is really good because you can see what it's like when you give yourself more time to do a panel and you can see what it's like when you have 30 seconds to complete one. For students who have really enjoyed drawing in this exercise but don't consider themselves to be an artist, myself definitely included, do you have any advice for just drawing more in general? Well, I know that this is hosted by Skillshare, but I really want to say that I actually truly love Skillshare. I think that taking advantage of all the classes is a really great way to keep learning, keep practicing, pushing yourself forward, just simply doing. I think any way that you can get yourself to keep making things is the best way to loosen up. I've just been making art my whole life. If you're just starting now, don't feel daunted by that. Just keep going. Keep challenging yourself. Take different types of classes, research different types of artists online, and make your own curriculum for yourself, or if that feels too daunting, if you like what we're doing here, just keep with it. I think it's really cool if you're not an artist, if you don't identify as an artist and you're doing these exercises truly. I also think anyone can be an artist. Anyone can make art. It's not like you can't make art if you're not selling things. You don't have to monetize everything that you like to do. I like to cook dinner for myself when I'm not opening a restaurant tomorrow or ever. Not tomorrow. Not tomorrow or ever. Don't get discouraged, anyone can do this. Anyone can make art. Just think about how we were all making art in preschool and probably every school since then. I feel like that's about where my art skills stopped evolving, but that's okay. That's cool. I don't think there's a certain timeline. If you just want to keep making art because something that is reignited in you, there's no reason why you can't be doing that. Again, you don't have to be amazing at everything you do. I think there's value in pursuing different things, especially things that you don't think you're super great at. You're just learning all the time. I realize I didn't write what this was, but I am done. That's great. You've got your beautiful plants in there. I did. That's amazing. As you can see, this exercise along with the first is super customizable, so keep going with it and make it your own. 5. Final Thoughts: Thanks for watching this Skill Share live class recorded with participation from the Skill Share community. I hope after taking this class you make these exercise as your own, you can practice them on a daily basis, monthly, whenever you're feeling stuck in your art practice or in processing feelings, really, you can do whatever you want with what we've learned today. Don't be discouraged, especially if you don't identify as an artist. You don't have to put this out there for anyone to see. That should be reason enough to try. You might not like it. I can't guarantee that you will, but just try it. I think there are so many different ways to make it your own. Don't feel like you need to do something the way that I do it and I'm constantly reshaping things for myself. It's really about figuring out what works for you. So if you've been following along today, go ahead and upload your drawing to the Project Gallery. I love when you upload your work that you do not have to, buy it's amazing and I comment on everyone's projects. Thanks for joining along for more visual journaling exercises, head over to my sensory class. Thank [inaudible] guys, this was amazing, love you all.