The 20 Minute Club–Automatic Drawings


This Week’s Minutes

I’ve had kind of a hard week and felt like I needed a treat, so I used a few 20 Minute Sessions to do several Automatic Drawings.

Automatic drawings are so liberating because they’re big and physical and immediate.

Your head takes a back seat to your arms and eyes as you become absorbed in the formal aspects of creating–line and color and value and composition.

There’s no good or bad in automatic drawing. You just feel your way through as you make marks and listen to them.

And because there’s no point in judging an automatic drawing, this kind of exercise is also really safe to do if you’re feeling vulnerable or downcast because it can’t be wrong.

Interesting Surprise

Being in a melancholy mood as I started another automatic drawing yesterday made me realize that I usually tend to do the automatic drawings fast–as if spontaneity requires speediness and energy.

Because I was lacking both, I didn’t want to move fast or be energetic. So instead, I let myself make marks slowly, delicately, gently.

It created a whole new experience of a favorite, familiar exercise. And I released myself from an assumption I didn’t know I had. It felt good.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read this blog post and give it a try. Especially if you’re feeling stuck or rusty or afraid to get started.


The weekly 20 Minute Club Minutes now also include a section for self-appreciations because they’re a wonderful, necessary partner to the 20 Minute Technique. (Especially when you’re having a tough time or feeling bad about yourself.)

And while it’s important and helpful to appreciate everything in your life and the overwhelming luckiness that can be forgotten, it’s just as important to more directly appreciate yourself because most of us diminish or ignore our own accomplishments and good qualities.

This hurts our creative dreams and goals and stops us from being bolder or going deeper.

So the focus here on the 20 Minute Club Minutes is what you appreciate about yourself. (I totally get that it can be hard or awkward–that’s why it’s important!)

Here’s mine for the week:

  1. I appreciate that I let my creativity be my refuge.
  2. I appreciate that I’m putting one foot in front of the other on some big projects that I don’t have total control over.
  3. I appreciate that I’m reaching out for help (not easy for me) on things that I’m finding hard.
  4. I appreciate my hands.
  5. I appreciate that I can now make things that I think are kind of bad or “don’t work” and let them stay on my studio wall for a while.

Your Turn

And how about you? Did you use the 20 Minute Technique this week? How’d it go? How about some Self-Appreciation? Yes? No? Hard? Easy?

Remember, it’s all valid and worth sharing–the good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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  1. Joyce Barham says:

    I didn’t get to quilt much this week. It’s been a hard week. I was feeling afraid to start quilting on the baby quilt I am making. And, I misplaced the green fabric that I needed for the backing. I found the fabric after 5 days of frustration. I had just cleaned my quilting studio adding to the frustration. I could not trust myself to do anything to the baby quilt. I appreciate taking this time to back away and regroup.

    I used the 20 minute technique this week to work on some old string blocks and I made 23 blocks. This is mindless sewing and it felt good to get something accomplished.

    I haven’t heard of automatic drawings, but I think I will get out my doodle pad and draw some quilting designs. Thanks, Sarah.
    Joyce in Arkansas.

  2. R.M. Koske says:

    I did the 20 minute club this week! Yay! Not only did I get a little creating done, but it helped make my weekend quite satisfying.

    Often on Sunday evening I look back on my weekend and feel terrible because I’ve wasted my precious 2 days of freedom and now I’ve got to go back to work. I was starting to feel that way this last Sunday, and I had time to do something creative, but I was too intimidated by the startup overhead all of the craft projects I could think of – it was too hard, involved too much thinking or getting out equipment or something.

    Somehow I remembered the 20 minute plan and decided that I didn’t have anything to lose by trying 20 minutes. If it was too hard, I could putter and poke and just *touch* all my in-progress stuff, and it would still count.

    It makes me laugh now, but for nearly the first ten minutes, I cleaned house. My craft space is in our computer room, and it gets piled up with all kinds of non-craft stuff, or craft stuff that isn’t mine, or abandoned projects or whatever. So I picked up the dirty socks and put away the flannel sheet I was planning to modify to fit the bed better (I’ll do a summer sheet instead, since I’ve waited so long) and just generally made it feel like there was enough elbow room to do something creative. Then I started poking at the craft stuff. A few minute of idle rambling uncovered the handknit sock I’d started mending a hole in.

    The hole was pretty big and I’d done a drastic partial unraveling to reknit the hole and mend it, and I got it out and quite happily did some rather finicky knitting for the last five minutes of my 20. I didn’t pursue it past the 20 minutes because the light wasn’t really good enough for that work. (Note to self – find a way to improve light for crafting.)

    To finish up, I did something that I’ve been doing at work lately and really helps – I left myself a note detailing what I’d just finished and what needed to happen next. That was totally the right thing to do, because I got it back out recently to work on a bit more, and the note saved me a lot of headscratching and let me get right back into working on it.

    This is only the third time I’ve tried doing a 20 minute session, and every time it was wonderful. I’ve gotta make it more of a habit.

  3. Sarah says:

    @Joyce and @R.M.–Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your process like this. Really helpful for other people still in the throes of thinking about making something but not quite there yet. @Joyce–I like that since you knew your quilt needed a rest and a little breathing room before you could work on it again–so you worked on something else–great move because it keeps you going while letting your bigger project marinate–sometimes I forget to do that!. @R.M.–I love the leaving yourself a note technique–I think I might try that!

  4. CathieG says:

    (Sorry this is so late…time kinda passed before my eyes :-) Last week was hard for me….came home tired…more mentally that physically. Lots of office work and have put myself on a exercise regiment. So what I decided was to make little kits of handwork and carry them with me. That way on the train to and from work, or a little lull in office work instead of playing on the internet …do something productive and get closer to finishing a project. Also on Saturday, my day was booked with classes and babysitting grandkids in the evening so I got up early and did a little house work and finished a purse that I had been working on..that worked out perfectly because it was my daughter-inlaw’s birthday…so I was able to give her the purse and a vase of roses for my garden…that felt pretty darn good..not only did she like it a lot and thanked me but she looked at me and told me I really should go into business! Not ready for that yet but it was a nice feeling.

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