figure drawing to improve focus

Figure Drawing Practice to Improve Your Mental Focus

Figure drawing is a drawing of the human body in any of its many postures. You can draw as many details as you want, but like with any drawing, you start with a simple sketch. The idea of this drawing activity is to make highly expressive sketches of the human body to improve your focus skills.

Artistic creations have many health benefits. One of its most important rewards is the ability to help your mind focus on what is in front of it. In other words, when you are creating something artistic, you are in a meditative state where you focus solely on one task.

For you to achieve that state, you must give yourself permission to engage completely in that activity. The more engaging and the more absorbing the activity is, the more you will achieve that mindful state where your inner voices become silent.

focus with artistic activities
Photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

I propose the following exercise where you will focus solely on what is in front of you. You are going to visualize lines going one way or another, and as a result, you will also focus on succeeding projects.

The fact that you are making an activity that forces you to concentrate, trains your willpower, and your ability to complete tasks. To clarify, the activity of figure drawing to improve your mental focus serves as an exercise to train your mind. If you want to read other ways on how to train your willpower, you can read here.

Use Artistic Activities to Focus with Compassion

While I was reading about mental focus I found this article, and I hated most of it. It’s about improving your focus to be successful at work. First, the need to define success as having money is something I find despicable. I don’t think that being successful is a purpose in life. I also truly believe that success is subjective and that the possessions that society is trying to impose on us are completely detestable. To me, success is being tranquil. I would never feel happy if I live by someone else’s standards of what they consider my life should look like.

Anyway, I don’t believe that there is a recipe for success. Nor do I think that you should treat yourself as a robot. Tricks like intermittent fasting, or drinking herbs to stimulate your brain, could be taking yourself almost to the limit of a collapse. You never know what repercussions it could have in the long term. Also, by all means, I think you should listen to your body and you should live your life taking care of yourself both mentally and physically.

take care mentally
Photo by Warion Taipei on Unsplash

Also, I truly believe that you should treat yourself with compassion and love. Most importantly, I think that by incorporating art into your life, you can help your soul speak. Therefore, providing yourself with the capacity to listen to your sensitive soul. You should live a life with art, and you should look for activities to live a peaceful and meaningful life.

What is mental focus and why it’s important?

Mental focus refers to the capacity you have of directing your mental effort to what is relevant at the moment. That is to say, if you want to work on a task for a certain amount of time, you are capable of doing it without directing your mind towards other activities.

It’s important to recognize when you need or want to focus on something completely. Most importantly, it’s important to be able to control your attention to seize every one of your experiences.

For instance, you can inspire your creativity with some mental wandering. Moreover, you are in the capacity to commit to a certain amount of time to savor every experience. Later on, you will use that insight to continue with your innovation. You will be able to write the ideas that arose and you will have the capacity of doing them more precisely.

Don’t improve your focus only on work-related tasks. Do it for yourself, and for every aspect that you commit to. You will feel fulfilled with an inner feeling of accomplishment.

Figure Drawing Practice

Think of this activity as a source of inspiration and training. Doodling helps the mind concentrate and motivate. You can doodle while listening to a conference or while in a meeting. It helps the mind stay active and surprisingly, you are more engaged with what is in front of you. It turns out that when you doodle more parts of your brain become present than when you only try to listen as an obligation.

I propose that instead of doodling while in a lecture, prior to it, you take part in a figure drawing practice. This will improve your focus on the long term because you are training your mind to pay attention to details. Drawing trains your mind to see clearly and to be more present. What if you sketch figure drawing for an amount of time to improve your focus?

figure drawing to improve focus
Figure drawing sketch by Sepia Flora

Figure drawing is an exciting practice because you can do it for as little as one minute per posture up to hours and hours of drawing every detail. Also, there are almost infinite postures that you can try without thinking that you are repeating them.

The Process of Figure Drawing to Improve Focus

Think about how much time you’ve got for the exercise and look for practices of that length. Also, you can commit to at least 10 minutes a day to do it. There are a lot of web pages where you can find inspiration. But, I want to show you my favorite ones where you can choose the posture. Also, you can find real-time posturing models to make the practice feel a lot more inspiring.

Here are the sources I use for figure drawing to improve focus. I choose them depending on how much time I’ve got and/or my preference for the day.

  • Croquis Cafe
    Good quality real-time videos. Sessions of less than 30 minutes with 1, 2, and 5-minute postures. They are great to feel inspired because it gives you the feeling of a true figure drawing master class.
  • Quick poses
    Timed practice where you can choose what you want to draw. You can choose the interval between sessions, and how many you want to draw. You can even get a certificate for completing sessions.
  • Line of Action
    You can choose between an interval or class mode. It’s a great site to practice proportions because they have models of different ages.
  • New Masters Academy
    It has some good videos if you want something longer than the Croquis Cafe.
figure drawing to improve focus
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Simple Steps of Figure Drawing for Beginners

Here are some tips I use to make figure drawing to improve focus. I want to show you what works for me. Full disclosure, probably you have seen these before. I like a minimal style because what I am trying to look for is some inspiration, not perfection. Many artists even make 15 seconds sketches in a fast and evocative manner! I love this page for quick poses.

For this exercise consider a maximum of 5 minutes per pose. You want to capture shapes that stimulate your brain but that don’t overwhelm you. Don’t focus on shadows or too much detail. After all, this is an exercise that will help train your mind. If you pay too much attention to details you will create something beautiful, but you might probably lose interest in doing it every day. Consider fast shapes that engage your mind in producing a simple but artistic sketch.

Some steps that might help you

1. Time
Keep the size of the body proportional to the interval time you have chosen. For 15 seconds’ intervals make small figures, for 5-minute intervals, consider bigger sizes.

figure drawing to improve focus
1 minute vs 15-second size by Sepia Flora

2. Motion
Analyze the body as a whole. Draw a line that represents the full motion of the body. This is known as the line of action. It is the one that represents the body as a whole. Usually, from the head to the furthest toe. Or, from north to south or east to west.

full motion figure drawing
Full motion figure drawing by Sepia Flora

3. Torso
Draw the torso. I think this is the main structure of the body. If it is a woman accentuate the waist and hips, and if it is a man I accentuate the shoulders.

figure drawing man or woman
Figure drawing man vs. woman by Sepia Flora

4. Legs and arms
Make simple shapes that go along the central line for the legs and arms. Usually, these shapes are no more than the shape of the letter s. Keep it simple, less is more.

figure drawing to improve focus
Legs and arms in figure drawing sketching by Sepia Flora

Enjoy and go with the flow. When you finish the activity you will have a very interesting page full of tiny people dancing.

figure drawing to improve focus
15 seconds sketches by Sepia Flora

Some Variations From the Initial Sketch

If you want to dig further into the experience, or you want to do something freely, consider the following variations to the experience.

1. Use different colors
Use your favorite color, or pick any color you want and later analyze why you chose that color.

figure drawing green
Choose any color for figure drawing by Sepia Flora

2. Exaggerate or understate
Play with the curves that define the posture. Have fun with the sketch and make the figure drawing thinner or thicker. Play with the shapes and exaggerate the curves. It is an interesting variation to consider.

figure drawing to improve focus
Explore the curves when figure drawing by Sepia Flora

3. Imagine a shield
Draw a shield on top of the torso. After drawing the torso imagine that the model is wearing a shield. Imagine that you are protecting the model as you would protect yourself. It is a gratifying experience.

paint shields sepia flora
Paint shields in the torso by Sepia Flora

4. Add elements or doodle with the figure
Add or subtract elements. For example, draw surreal objects. Imagine the model standing on top of a chair, or draw a long beautiful hair.

figure drawing to improve focus
Explore figure drawing adding elements by Sepia Flora

Art as a Source of Inspiration and Discipline

If you practice figure drawing to improve your focus every day, you will notice its benefits. Not only artistically, but you will notice how you improve your mental focus. You will gain discipline and self-awareness. Also, I find it amazing that beautiful visual creations trigger your brain’s reward pathways. I believe that all artistic creations are valuable. Creations don’t depend on your artistic level and above all, you should have a life full of art.

Certainly, the importance is that you find inspiration in this exercise and that you gain some focus. If you feel that you want to add a lot more details to your drawing look at this page. It has an amazing tutorial on how to draw both men and women with a lot of detail.

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