Throughout my childhood, my mother always told me and my siblings that every drawing — no matter how small or imperfect — was important. My mom was an art major and constantly encouraged us, even when our art may not been the best. Now that everyone is stuck indoors for an indefinite amount of time, I’m encouraging you to pick up a pen and to get doodling.
Art is good medicine; studies show it can relieve stress and help people alleviate depression and anxiety. My favorite part about art is its ability to take your mind somewhere else. No matter your skill level, you can still find joy in the act of expressing yourself on a piece of paper.
Popular artists and illustrators have taken to social media and YouTube during this time of social isolation to encourage people of all ages to draw. I’ve been following along with some of my favorite children’s book illustrators for the past few weeks. Drawing with these artists has helped me stay positive during this anxiety-inducing time. While art can’t solve every issue, I’m a strong believer in the powers of creativity.
There are a few artists who have especially brought light into my quarantine. Mo Willems, writer and illustrator of children’s books, has been hosting “Lunch Doodles” on the Kennedy Center’s YouTube channel. One of my favorite of his books is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! During his “Lunch Doodles,” he shows you how to draw some of his famous characters and emphasizes the importance of every doodle, no matter how small.
Willems hosts the videos in his studio and talks to you like you’re a close friend. His tutorials are easy to follow along with. He’s quirky and fun and makes me feel hopeful. It’s a reminder that there are good people out there putting positive energy into the world. The program is three weeks long, but all of his videos are free to watch anytime on YouTube.
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Another illustrator, Carson Ellis, has been encouraging people to take up art in the past few weeks. She posts on her Instagram an “assignment” to inspire people to get drawing. Ellis posts her own art and reposts others’ artwork following her prompts. One of the most recent ones was “Memorable Dream.” The prompts are specific, but general enough to be interpreted however you want.
Ellis illustrated some of my favorite books growing up, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Wildwood Chronicles. I always liked her because her style of art is unique and almost other-worldly. She lives on a farm in Oregon with her family. I highly recommend following her on Instagram if you want some genuinely pure content on your feed.
Last but not least, Jarrett Krosoczka has been posting a video every weekday on his YouTube channel. He’s a great illustrator, known for his “Lunch Lady” book series. Each video has a different topic and teaches you a little something about drawing. I especially loved his video on “Motion Lines,” which can really bring a drawing to life. Krosoczka is cheery and his videos are easy to follow along.
Whatever your skill level may be, these illustrators make it easy to find joy in drawing and creating art. In the past weeks, these videos have reminded me how therapeutic it is to get lost in drawing. If art seems daunting to you, try following along with one of these illustrators. I promise they will help your mood, and your brain. So get doodling!