How to be confident series – drawing outside in front of people

Ooh what you drawing? is often the sentence you’ll hear when drawing outside or in a public space and it can be intimidating having people hunched over your shoulder umming and arghiing at you, as you lay each pencil line down and you know what its off putting but I have learned over many years to embrace this. This weekend at Renegade I did a handful of live illustrations of people I had never met, it took many years of doodling on my own and of family members to gain my confidence.

It renews my confidence in my ability to draw, but if you aren’t overly confident in these situations remember its your drawing and your space. Often when I know I am going to be drawing outside I take a small sketchbook so its a lot more private and practical I stumbled across the most wonderful sketchbook from Trago Mills when I was in Cornwall, I picked up two wishing I had bought all of them only £2.49 I shouldn’t of passed it up but you can get the same ones here on the Derwent website I have the small version. It doesn’t matter too much on the size of the sketchpad I think its all about having the confidence. 

So here are some of my top tips for drawing outside with confidence.

– Best way to do this is find a space outside where its unlikely you’ll come across anyone, giving you time to get use to drawing outside and the environment around you.

– Choose drawing material that dries quickly, pencils, pastels, thin layers of watercolours.

– Take your time, some drawings take a little bit longer then others don’t feel rushed by others if you are out drawing in public.

– I often balance my sketchbook on my legs but you can get drawing boards like this one from hobby Craft for a steal and obviously if you are starting out its a great way to get use to drawing outside.

– Be careful when drawing people in public spaces they might not feel comfortable with you staring and doodling them, just be careful.

– Embrace people staring at you while you work, or people asking questions its good for you, might even bag yourself a commission or new connections.

– You aren’t going to feel confident instantly it’s like everything else in life you have to work hard on it.

I hope this helps in someway to teach you that its all about what you are comfortable with and just doing your thing your way. I will be sharing this series over on my Instagram – _ellamasters_ with the hashtag #htbcwithella sharing you working on being confident with your art and creativity can’t wait to see what you share with me.



  1. April 13, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    This is such a great post and I'm so glad you shared your tips! Drawing outside is altogether different and it's something I'd love to do a lot more of and you hit the nail on the head of why I'm so nervous to do it <3

    Sophie | Dreams and Colour Schemes

  2. June 6, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    I so agree with your last on the list about practicing and gaining confidence over time. I draw outside a lot and I have had to become used to it. I also find that people are less apt to ask questions or stare much if you assume a very business-like and confident expression. Its like they sense, "Oh, this person is just doing their work, I'd better not bother them."

  3. June 16, 2015 / 8:47 am

    Thank you so much for this post – this is something I WISH I was more confident at! I love drawing and hope to be an illustrator in the future but am very much a beginner right now. I spend a lot of time on long train journeys (long distance relationship) and wish I could use this time to draw, but can't deal with people looking. I even struggle to have my own family members watching me draw. So thanks for the advice, I think it is all about confidence and building it up slowly.

    So glad I found your blog, I'm going to have a good thorough look around!

  4. August 7, 2015 / 5:05 pm

    Great tips and a stunning blog! Adore the mini sketchbook you're using. I wish I could draw outside but I find the lighting so difficult for my eyes.. I also feel disturbed and irritated almost as they're peering over too much haha.. not quite sure why it bothers me. New follower here, anyway! Love your writing style and art. xx


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