Tips: Drawing while Depressed

A quick list of tips that helped me draw while suffering from depression:

  1. For commissions: I communicated clearly up-front that their picture could take a long time and might not get finished. It was embarrassing but also a relief and took away a lot of the pressure. Almost everyone was understanding and patient even when I had to give refunds.
  2. Made it easy to fall into drawing. Opened my drawing program and got everything set up before I went to school/work/sleep so it would be the first thing that appeared when I came back.
  3. Rewarded myself with a treat even if I only did 5 minutes of drawing a day. If you can just get started, the 5 minutes often naturally turns into hours.
  4. When nothing was turning out right, I remembered that I was the only person in the world who was comparing my drawing to the “potential” picture in my head that I wasn’t living up to. Everyone else was comparing it to “a blank page” and thought it was awesome by comparison.
  5. Related to the former, this image in general:
  6. CBT techniques to short-circuit the bad thoughts. This free book outlines basic techniques and I can’t recommend it enough:
  7. Shrimp method for a mood boost when I felt like I couldn’t draw anything:

To depressed artists reading: if none of these tips help you, please don’t get down on yourself. You aren’t bad or lazy… you are simply having trouble – as anyone would! – executing an incredibly difficult and complex skill while suffering from a life-threatening illness.

Take care of yourself, and I hope your days get brighter.