A sample of the weekly drawings I’ve completed on Instagram livestreams since March 2020

If you live in the United States, we’re at varying stages of shelter-in-place. In my state of California, we recently passed 100 days since the shelter-in-place order was passed by Governor Newsom on March 20, 2020. And although my outdoor adventures were fairly limited prior to that, I currently venture outside once a week at most to pick up essential groceries and errands.

So where does livestreaming come into place?

I’ve been livestreaming regularly since last fall, but I never had an official schedule that I kept up. I realized that my quarantine-era schedule was becoming more chaotic as I was adjusting my life to the “new normal”. That meant shuffling the days around that I would work, go shopping, and household chores on a weekly basis. I decided in early April that I would have a fixed livestream schedule. Every week I would draw something new. Each livestream would be at minimum 1 hour long. My schedule is to stream on Sundays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays.

The Pros:

Social communication. I am not a gregarious person, but the routine of having a conversation with other people has been almost therapeutic. It’s also a nice distraction from the daily news as the livestreams are focused on creating art. It’s easy to forget how to talk to people when you may be passively listening to music or have Netflix in the background where it’s a one-side interaction with voices talking ‘at you’.

Accountability and Routine. I publish my livestream times on Instagram the day prior to it starting so that anyone who is interested can set a reminder to join when the stream starts. In the rare event something does come up, I try my best to reschedule the stream to the same day or next day.

Drawing new subjects. I’ve always made it a goal to continuously learn when it comes to art. If you follow me on Instagram, we start off the week by voting for the next livestream subject on Saturdays. I pick 4 subjects at random from Reddit on the subreddit r/redditgetsdrawn so there’s always a new batch of animals to choose from. In my commission work, the majority of the subjects I draw are dogs, so it’s a nice surprise to switch to reptiles, birds, and cats.

Trying new art materials. Probably one of the biggest pros has been finally being able to test a few of the art supplies that I’ve wanted to experiment with for months. When I do livestreams, the drawings are usually 5×7 inches to 8×8 inches completed within a few hours. If my experiment fails, it’s not a huge disappointment. But if the experiment is a success, it’s a new art supply I can use in larger projects.

The Cons:

Time commitment. The setup and teardown for a livestream take about an hour for each session. So, in addition to the actual livestream itself, the total time commitment at minimum for one livestream will be 2 hours.

Laziness. Don’t think I need to elaborate on this more. But yes, I have days when I only want to eat chips and watch TV.

Failing in front of others. The most recent mistake I made was using too much fixative on the parrot drawing. I sprayed a bit more fixative than I should have and the entire drawing started to bleed and run down the easel. It’s always embarrassing to fail in public, but you learn a lot from learning how to recover from mistakes – and maybe this point should be listed under the “pros” of livestreaming. Hmm…

The overall takeaway

Livestreams take a good chunk of time out of my week. Livestreams may not always be fun. Some days there is no one watching and it feels like it’s not the best use of my time. But I’ve accepted that there will always be a reward for trying something new.

With California being slow to reopen, I don’t have plans to visit an art museum or park to get inspired to create more art. Staying indoors and working from home can easily lead to a routine where you’re stuck in an artistic rut. Livestreams have been one way where I’m pushing myself to do something a bit different on a regular basis.

If you’d like to read my experience with my first 10 hours of livestreams, I have a blog post all about it here:

To join in on a livestream on Instagram, you’ll need to have the Instagram app installed on your phone

In early 2020, Instagram has started saving livestreams to IGTV. You can watch many of my past livestreams at any time on IGTV here

I hope this post gives you the extra push to try livestreaming for yourself! Instagram isn’t the only platform that offers streaming services. Try out Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and YouTube and see if you like drawing with an audience.


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