A lot about drawing reminds me of how the creative process works with writing. If your goal is to loosen up and shut up the inner critic while you get something on paper, both artists (including those drawing for fun only) and writers (ditto) are more likely to find flow with the right environment.
Providing such an environment—one of permission to play at being creative—is the purpose of the interactive workbook The Drawing Mind: Silence Your Inner Critic and Release Your Creative Spirit, by Deborah Putnoi, an artist and educator.
Putnoi is a self-confessed "obsessive keeper of sketchbooks." She has favorite kinds of sketchbooks and favorite pens and pencils, much the way many authors have their favorite notebooks and writing implements.
The Drawing Mind is, ultimately, playful. The size of a trade paperback, the unregimented fonts on the inside evoke the creative workbooks I used to buy for my kids, those that replaced "coloring books" for parents who wanted their progeny to think for themselves.
On one page, for instance, she lists some sources of inspiration (a postcard from an art museum, a sketch by an architect, a wall of graffiti, a comic strip), and suggests you "glue a variety of things that you find interesting" on the following blank page.
Drawing is a practice, she says in her introduction, like yoga. By practicing regularly, you will become more open and aware.
Here are some examples of Putnoi's drawing exercises to free your creativity:
1. Use both hands at the same time and draw jagged lines and dots.
2. Listen carefully and then draw all the sounds you hear with your eyes closed, using only marks.
3. Look at your face in the mirror and draw everything your eye takes in, letting your pencil follow along as you look closely at yourself. Pretend you are seeing yourself for the first time.
4. Ask several friends to draw a bumpy line and compare them with yours. All will be different.
Copyright (2012) by Susan K. Perry