Live Encore: Calming Drawing Exercises for Self-Care | Carly Kuhn | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Live Encore: Calming Drawing Exercises for Self-Care

teacher avatar Carly Kuhn, Artist, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      No Wrong Way to Make Art


    • 3.

      A Moment to Breathe


    • 4.

      Drawing With Your Eyes Closed


    • 5.

      Drawing Your Intentions


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Take a relaxing, creative break and learn new drawing activities to connect with yourself.

While self care practices are important, artist Carly Kuhn recognizes that sometimes the traditional ones can be too structured or put too much pressure on yourself. So, in this 40-minute class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—she’ll walk you through some creative ways to check in with yourself, take pause, and do it all with absolutely no pressure.

First, you’ll hear some thoughts on why carving out time for yourself to create is so important, and get into the right headspace with a moment to breathe. Then, you’ll work through a meditative drawing exercise to get your hand moving and clear out the clutter in your mind. Finally, you’ll learn an art-journaling activity to help you connect with your goals, intentions, and visions in a low-key and creative way.

This class is for anyone who needs a moment for themselves or is looking for ways to get in touch with their creativity. Artists of all levels can participate, and all you need is some paper and whatever drawing materials you prefer.


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.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Carly Kuhn

Artist, Illustrator


Carly Kuhn, formerly known as The Cartorialist, is a Miami-based artist & designer who has collaborated with an array of esteemed brands and companies including Prada, Dior, Capitol Records, Oscar De La Renta and The American Ballet Theatre. Born and raised in New York City, Carly graduated with a degree in Television, Radio, and Film from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. She lived in Los Angeles for 12 years, working at CAA, and then in production and development in TV comedy. She also studied improv at the famed Groundlings theater, before she found her way into an unexpected career as an artist. A serious artist who doesn’t take herself too seriously, Carly’s work ranges from portraits and fashion illustrations to large-scale murals,... See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: I think we're in a time that being able to take pause and having a moment to yourself is really important, but it can sometimes feel overwhelming to have it feel like this structured thing, like meditating or journaling. I wanted to create these exercises as a way to check-in with yourself, take pause, but have that added creativity element to it so that it doesn't have so much pressure. Hi. I'm Carly Kuhn, and I'm an artist, designer based out of Los Angeles, California. You may have seen my work on Instagram, on The Cartorialist, and I also have taught some classes on Skillshare that are all about finding your creativity and finding the confidence to create. Today's class is all about using art as a way to practice self-care. We're going to do a couple of exercises that will help you get pen to paper, connect with your intentions, and practice creating without judgment. This class is really for everyone. Whether you're an artist, you're a budding artist or you're in a completely different field like you're a lawyer, the class is meant to be for anyone that just needs a moment to themselves. All you need for this class is a piece of paper and any drawing materials that you have on hand. I hope you leave this class with a sense of calm and also confidence that you did something for yourself, that you created something for yourself and that's a really important thing to be able to always come back to as crazy as this world is and everything that's going on in your life. You can always come back to this class and to exercise to remind yourself to do something for just you. Just wanted to note that this class was recorded live, so I got to interact with the audience a little bit as I was drawing. So let's get started. 2. No Wrong Way to Make Art: Hi, I'm Briana, a producer on the content team here at Skillshare. I'll be your host. Carly, thank you for being here. We're so excited to have you here. Will you just tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do? I am an artist designer. I live in LA. My background was actually in television comedy. That's what brought me out to LA, originally I worked as a producer on Chelsea Lately. Then I also was doing Groundlings, which is an improv school that a lot of SNL people go through. I just did it as a fun, little, creative outlet. My former life was in comedy. I was always creative and always looking for that creativity and that creative outlet. I was always trying new things and I fell into this art world. I didn't go to art school. I just always had an artistic, creative side. The power of Instagram is really how I'm here today. While I was at my other job, I was just drawing little characters here and there. I would draw people on their birthdays. Then at a certain point, a friend was like, "Oh, you should start an Instagram account." I didn't really know what that looked like, but it was just something to almost hold myself accountable, do something, put it out there. It started out like fashion inspired because that was what was first on Instagram. I would post something inspired by this person and then they would repost it. It just became this organic growth without a plan and just saying yes to everything when people would reach out for me to do something even though I would maybe at the time was like, oh sure, I don't know how to do that. No, and then I would try and figure it out. I learned a lot along the way and I think it's been about six years since I've been doing this. Yeah, it's just really cool because I grew on a social platform. Then being here and connecting with you guys through a different kind of social platform. Yeah, it's just been this really crazy organic journey. It's still growing and evolving every day. Tell us a little bit about what are we going to be doing today and how do exercises like these, how do they help you or how do you use them in your life? Well, I think my teaching style in my other classes and this class, I think one of the themes that I always like to convey is that there's really no right or wrong way to do anything. Even though there's a teaching, outline to what I'm telling you, I don't want you to feel like, oh, she's telling me to do it this way, but I messed up or whatever. Throw that all out the window. These are guidelines. I think especially some type A people on here, that's always a hard thing to break out of. You feel like you need that structure. In a way, this is the way I used it and how I came up with these classes and this class specifically. When I was starting out in drawing, I was doing a lot of things inspired by photos and fashion. I felt like I had to do it a certain way. At a certain point, my creativity just felt stunted and paralyzed. I felt like because of the rules and constraints, I couldn't express myself. I started this one line technique where I just wasn't thinking and I wasn't picking up the pen. That birthed this whole new creativity and a new style for me in art. This class specifically, I'm calling it a hybrid of all the things that people may be say like journaling, manifesting, meditating, all of those things, but again, throwing all of the pressure of those words out the window and using it as just something that's for you. I think now more than ever, we all feel like we need to take pause and do something that turns our brain off, whether it's watching like the Bachelorette or whatever it is you do. I think that this exercise, and this class, and my classes are meant to help you turn your brain off, stop the self judgment. Again, whether you're here because you want to be an artist, you view yourself as an artist, you're a lawyer and you just need something completely different, it's really for everyone. I also do think, when I said, some people meditate and some people practice manifestation or setting intentions, and doing stuff in their diary or journaling, this is a way to touch upon that but without that pressure that it has to be anything else, and you have a fun little art side of things, if that makes sense. Yeah. It's like you knew what my Tuesday night plan was. We're doing two exercises today. I think it'll be exciting to hop into those. Before that, any specific materials, guidance beyond just what I shared, what do people need to follow along? Well, I think running into the same theme of no right way, I also really want this class and these exercises, everything that I share with you guys is showing that you can do whatever you have around you. If you just have a blank piece of paper, if you have, this is even my notes, scrap paper. If you have some old books that are broken. Any kind of paper that you have accessible to you, and then pens. You can use any kind of pen that you have available to you. This is a pen specifically that I use all the time. It happened because I had it at the office I used to work at. I just really like how it writes. As you see from this exercise and all other exercises, you'll feel differently based off the pen you use, based off the paper you use. That's something, again, if you want to keep doing these exercises and you're doing it from more of an art perspective, you're going to learn a lot just by the feel and how something goes on the page. But again, it's really whatever you have available to you. It can be a tiny small piece of paper or it could be a big piece of paper. Again, there's really no right or wrong thing to use, it's whatever you have available and that's the most important thing. 3. A Moment to Breathe: To get started, I want us all to just take a moment to breathe and settle into our making mindset. First off, I am not trained in any meditative practice, but I think we all know that stopping, closing our eyes and breathing is a good thing to do. I want everyone to just close your eyes and just take a moment. Remember this class is for you, whatever craziness is going on around you, the world, try to turn that off and just close your eyes and just take five deep breaths, just as a way to quiet the mind, take away all self judgment. We'll just see now, lead a little breathing. We go, breathe in. You can just do five more of those, four more of those, just to calm the mind, that is sent to a nice soothing mindset to let all the rules, judgment's out. Take a few more seconds, and when you're ready, you can slowly start to open your eyes, and hopefully just that first few seconds let you calm and take that deep breath for yourself. It's amazing how much just taking a deep breath what it does, and how quickly it can just settle your heart and your mind. It's always a good first thing to do and coming from not any official place. But just realizing, I guess the doctors overwrite it. It works. Taking some breaths, deep breaths. It's amazing. It's like the whole day shifts everything up till this point. It's like okay, and now, something so simple. That was just a really good thing. We all know like, yes, you could try and meditate even for five minutes or even for 10 minutes, but even just taking five breaths I feel like helps a lot. 4. Drawing With Your Eyes Closed: Now we're going to do our first activity and do some drawing with our eyes closed. I like to use flowers because I feel like there's no real judgment of what a flower should be. There are so many different kinds of flowers. I'm just going to start, I'm going to close my eyes and I'm going to just start drawing flowers and continuous. I like to not pick up my pen, you can do that or you cannot. You can do it along with me and I'll do it really quickly to show you, so if I close my eyes and I'm just going to slowly start drawing out without looking. I have no clue what's on the page and that's really scary especially because they're all just tuning in, I don't know what's happening. But I'm showing you to let you know that there's no right way to do this. You also could do this and take as long as you want and go super slowly or you can make it really quick. Again, these are just to show you that there's so many different ways to just turn your brain off. As you can see here, this is just something quickly that I did, and I want you to now do that. I want you to close your eyes and I want you to just start drawing. They don't have to look like these flowers, if you have some weird looking flower in your mind, go for it. I don't know, there are a million flower. That's why I think it's always fun to just start with this exercise and just start drawing. I'll just talk through this as you guys are doing it a little bit. If you saw when I was doing this, I went from small to big, big to small, slow to fast. These are just little techniques even when you're doing exercises, if you're trying to like change your creativity or you're feeling stuck. They're just playing with the timing of things, the scale of things, it changes the way your line comes out and how it ends up on the page is very different. Again, I never know how long something takes people, so if you want to feel like you're stuck and you're like I don't know where else to go, I haven't picked my pen, have I drawn too much on the page? You can open your eyes, find a new spot on the page and start again. You can pick up your pen again. I like to set a rule but then allow you not to feel so paralyzed by it, just go with your instincts and go with what feels right. This is exercise is a class for you and that's something that's the most important thing about everything that I teach. I just want this to be something for you and the outcome is going to be different for everyone. How do you let go of that urge? Even if while you're doing it, you're in the moment and you've let go of judgment when you open your eyes, there is such instinct to say, ''Oh no. That's what I made?'' How do you deal with that or do you just do another one and see that it's fine? I think that if we're setting up the class to be something that doesn't have any title on it. I know there are a lot of classes on Skillshare, there's learn how to draw this or learn how to animate and it's a very defined outcome and I love taking those classes that have a little bit more structure. But the way that I set up this class and all of these exercises is so that there isn't any expectation for what you end up creating. When you do it and then I look, there's just like a sense of, ''Oh, that's interesting'' and why judge it. I also think when you're putting these obstacles on top of things, it takes the pressure off. If you're like, I want you to look at a page, look at flowers and I want you to draw those flowers. You're like, well, I was looking at the flowers, I had ample time and it looks like crap or whatever. That's why these are supposed to allow you to just do whatever. Your eyes were closed, you had only a few minutes and this is what came out. I also think that sometimes more interesting things happen when you are not planning for them to happen that way. Like I think Bob Ross, Happy Little Accidents or something. Hopefully you guys like your flowers. But I also think when you do these exercises, you might find a new style. You're like, oh, I really love how this intertwine this way or whatever it is. Is there a particular like Happy Accident that comes to mind that is something maybe you did out of necessity and then it's something you loved and became part of your style or part of your repertoire? I think it was just one of the questions when people like to ask is like how did you get so good at this or how did you find your style? I think it was just from repetition. I think the Happy Accident came with the realization that like the flaws of something I thought was flawed in my drawing was actually what people were attracted to. We're living in this like Instagram perfect world and so many things are presented in such like a manicured perfected way and so I would be drawing these people and I started out first drawing with pencil and then going over it with pen and the more I just started drawing and finding a pen that I like to just going for it and then there'd be a weird hand in one girl or like I would be over here or one be like proportionately right and I think I just leaned into that. It wasn't about getting good at something but the more I did it, I started to find my style and I think that people liked that. Maybe there was someone drew a model on a runway in this beautiful dress so perfectly and I didn't necessarily do that but that was attracting similar types of people that gravitated towards that, that perfectly imperfect. That's another theme to embrace and lean into that. There's something cheesy, but like there's something beautiful unlike our flowers, I can't say so without sounding so like that's not me. I'm not like the room, the color, the aura, that's not me. Which I love all that. You move to LA. I know. But I think there is something really magical when your flaws are beautiful and like the flaws within your work and I think people like to see that there's a hand behind something rather than feeling like it's so perfectly manicured. 5. Drawing Your Intentions: Next, we're going to play with incorporating some words into art. I think going into the whole self-reflection and this idea of we're wrapping up the year. Even if it's not the end of the year and you're watching this, and it's the middle of the year or whatever, we're all always trying to check in with ourselves. I started out at the beginning saying people have different forms of meditation. You have the meditation. People like to manifest or set intentions and put things out there, but that can also feel daunting. I've always wanted to have a diary or a journal and I have 10 diaries with one page written in them, and that just wasn't for me. I think that this is a fun way to do that side of things, like the meditative, the journaling, the setting intentions, but doing it in a way that's creative, that turns your brain off. The exercise we're going to do is I want you to pick three words. Whether it's setting an intention or something you want more of in your life. For example, I'm going to use the words, gratitude, create, and move. I always want to be moving my body a little bit more, especially that we're all home. Just little movements. Again, all these things, don't put pressure on it. This doesn't have to be some big New Year's resolutions, these are just little things. Other examples you can have a phrase, take pause or disconnect or breathe, whatever it is, just start thinking about those three words. If you've seen my work, I do love to incorporate words within my art. The line is what's so important to me, how the line goes onto the page. Basically, there is a couple of ways you can do this. I'll just quickly show you the different ways to have this manifestation, meditative. What am I trying to say? Setting intentions, hybrid with this creative art exercise. If I'm going to start out, I love to play with scale, as I said before, and also style. Starting with move. I also love to work on the page. Use that as a guideline. Going down here, move. Then, maybe I do small here, and they get smaller. Then, create. Maybe that becomes script, filling the page. That's just one example. You may play on this and be like, "Okay, I want it to look better", or you want to add other words. Again, this is just about playing and seeing these words be put on the page as an art piece, as a canvas. You also will start to see what your eye just organically wants to do. You're creating a really cool sense of line work on the page. It's, again, not feeling so literal that it has to be like, "Oh, I'm setting my intentions". But you can do this and create it, and then it's something pretty you can put on your wall. That's one example of how you can do it. Now if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by just the blank page, I also think you can use shapes to guide you. Let's do three circles. Again, it can be anywhere you want. Then placing the words within the circles is a good way, and you can also do this with art as well. If we wanted to do flowers, you can do this with flowers. We have move. I did it similar to what I just did, but these shapes maybe make it a little less intimidating. Move, and then create. You have a smaller one, and so it's fun you can do it all weird and wonky. Play around with a different style. That's another way. I keep going back to scale, size, style. You can do this and put the shapes in a completely different way. You can have the shapes fill the page. You can make it into a script style. Then, we can even go into the style of going back to the flowers and doing a continuous line thing. You can have the flowers. Again, it can be anything you want to draw and doodle. Here I'm going to do create and then gratitude, flower there. Then maybe I'll do bigger, move. I just wanted to run through it and show you the different ways that you can play with words and have it feel like different art pieces. With this intention of taking a moment for yourself, reflecting, but with the pressure of it having to mean, this feels so intense. You also can use different style of paper that changes things, different kinds of pen, which adds another dimension. I'll do it quickly, move, create, and then gratitude. I filled the space differently there. You can add color at the end, however, you want. Obviously, I'm trying to do it quickly. But with all of these exercises, you can take as long as you want. This seems such a nice, light a candle, put on some music, and make some tea, whatever that is like a moment to do that that's not scrolling on your phone, which is what I do. How often do you do an exercise like this? Is it whenever you are feeling stuck? I think, that there's different versions of this that I find myself using words as a way to fill space. If something doesn't necessarily feel right, I work very instinctually. I don't necessarily plan things out. I'll look at something and I have to step back, and say, "Okay, what's missing?" I think words are a really good way of viewing words as more than just having meaning, but also how does that change the style of the art piece. But it also takes the pressure off because everyone knows how to write certain words. There is not necessarily this artistic style you need to have. I think, even with this first exercise I did, you can do something as simple if you are more of a minimalistic style. Going back to one of the exercises, and maybe I'd put it really small right in here like that. That's a really special moment that's just for you. That you put this up on your wall, and only you know that those words are written here. You can have it script up here. I'm writing it out. I just think there's something so romantic when you have words, mixed in to what you're creating. It's like this secret that only you know about. You guys can just start, I guess, doing these exercises. Hopefully, you've picked your three words, but as I said, you can do more than three words. You can do a phrase. You can do anything that pops into your mind. If it's your mom that's popping into your mind, and you want to have your mom's name written in there, you can do that. As you see, there's so many different ways of using these words as a way to create something visually. But then also, you're taking it in and setting an intention, if you will. Obviously, I'm talking through this. Since this is the exercise, but hopefully you guys can take these exercises with you. Like [inaudible] said, you can put on some good music. You can have a glass of wine, or you can have some just sparkling water and lemon if you want it to feel fresh and light. Anything to get you in a good headspace. Minds, I know. These are for you. You can do them as frequently or as low as you want. You can also play around with how long you take to do them. You can try to fill the whole page with tiny little words. I know for me, music is really important when I work. I love listening to classical music and almost letting the music lead where my line goes. It all plays in together. I know you love to work in black and white. How would you approach something like this if you had say, a red sharpie? Does that totally change the feel of what you're doing? Me, I used a whole bunch of different colors. I love it. Thanks. That's generous. No. I think, okay, I have a red marker here, and I think, that's actually when you asked, now thinking about it, the happy accident you mentioned. When we did one of our previous classes, I ended up using on this piece of this old French dictionary that I have these pages. I was just doing what I just did with you guys, and I had these pastels that I'd never done on the page before. If you can see, there's texture at it and I didn't intend to use that on here. I loved the contrast between the text and the black marker with the colors. I do feel there's a different sense of things. I also think if you're someone who just likes to work in black and white, you can also play around with color with how you frame something. You could put a really beautiful antique gold frame around this, and that has one style, or you put a very [inaudible] black frame around it. There's so many layers to how things are presented. Just so you can see how it's different. Hopefully, there are no calligrapher. [inaudible]. There's no need to [inaudible]. But I think just even seeing something on a page like that has a different feel. It does. I think that that's what's fun about this. It's style, time, scale, all that and throw in color, throw in paint. You'll do paint and you will find different kinds of styles even as you create by materials you're using. You can do that intentionally, or it's like what you have around and then something cool pops into your head and you're like, "Oh, I really like how that gold paint ended up looking on this black paper". I think that's just embracing, going with the flow, and leaning into whatever it is that's in front of you, and just seeing where it takes you. 6. Q&A: Now, we're going to open it up to questions from students in the audience. Is there a certain time when you feel most creative? I am more of a morning person. I've always gone to bed super early. Growing up, I would go to bed when friends were staying over, and they would have to go play with my older brother because I'm super-cool like that. But I just function better I think, people are night owls, or they're morning birds. I don't know the expression in reverse of that is, but I definitely have the most energy, some say have a good night sleep, in the morning and then I would say around 2:00 or 3:00 I'm not as fired up or creatively motivated. I think that's also learning, feeling guilty about when are you most productive and creative. I also think it's just learning that and then managing your task space off that. It's like later in the day when I'm not as creatively inspired, I might do emails or Excel stuff, fulfilling orders, whatever it is. But I don't know, every once in a blue moon I'll get like a surge of energy and just feel a little later in the day. Yeah, I think there are a couple of questions around how you motivate when you feel like not under creative space or not working. I imagine it really is a lot of organizing your day that way. But, even if it's a morning where you're like, "I went to bed early, I'm going to do stuff," then you wake up that day and you're just like, do you push through that? What do you do? Obviously there are these kinds of exercises, but that sometimes can even feel like, what am I searching for? Am I still drawing? For me, I actually find podcasts or a Skillshare class, or even just on YouTube looking for people that I find creative and like watching their, like what you're doing with me asking me. There's comfort in hearing other creatives talk about what they do. I love listening to people's stories, the how I built this or any of those kinds of podcasts and I do honestly love taking different Skillshare classes. I had been taking Skillshare before I even was teaching and it's cool to take stuff that's maybe out of what you would normally be doing to just take your mind off things. Then also going for walks, doing some kind of movement. But I think it's turning your brain off to maybe a different category, so even a documentary or watching just something that's mindless can sometimes get you out of your head and then you can get back into it. Do you have a separate creative practice for yourself outside of your work? Since your creative hobby then became your work. Yeah, I guess that I touched upon that before where these exercises sometimes can be great for people that aren't creative because it is opposite. I do think that moving, I'm a New Yorker, I grew up in the city, so walks are really important to me. I was always that weirdo in LA that was walking more than most people. There's something, it's like I get anxiety a lot too, and so I think sometimes just getting out and just walking around. But I think even if you can't go outside, moving, and I'm saying this and I haven't moved as much as I want to. I think sometimes we tend to be like, I haven't worked out in two weeks, so I'm going to start hard, I'm going to workout five days a week and then you just set yourself up for failure. I think I know I'm trying to be better at this, just do something small a little bit. Go on a walk and that can be enough to start you. I think that goes into the art side and the creative side thing too. Just do a little bit every day, it doesn't have to be a finished art piece every time you do it. Do a little exercise, close your eyes and do this thing. I think that bleeds out into all the different categories of just doing a little bit and not setting yourself up for these big goals. I went on like a tantrum from that question but. But I think it speaks to all of these things, just finding a space for creativity especially in crazy times. Yeah, and overcoming the fear of the white sheet, which I think stops a lot of us from tapping into the full potential of things like this. 7. Final Thoughts: Well, that's everything for today. I hope that you enjoyed the class and you're coming out of it feeling a new sense of calm and gratitude that you are able to take this moment for yourself, and that's something you should be really proud of. When you are approaching any of these exercises, hopefully you saw that they're really just for you, and you can transform them into any exercise that you're needing, and knowing that there's no right or wrong way to do any of this and just whatever is like feeling good that you know you need. I was following this meditation once and she then said, "If you're here, you're meditating," like a lot of people really have to be this to meditate, but if you're here and you're doing it, you're meditating. That's one step and hopefully that will be a good overall theme for everything that you're doing. Well, just starting small and showing up. Would love to see what you guys created. If you can share in the project gallery, I look forward to seeing what you created, and remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Every thing that you've created is beautiful and unique to you and that's something really special. Thank you guys for joining in on my class. That seem self care through art, and if you want to find out a little bit more about me, you can visit my SkillShare page or visit my other classes as well. I look forward to seeing more of what you create.