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I'm at school, and my days are busy, I can't draw and do homework at the same time, and my greatest fear is that I lose my drawing skills since I'm looking for scholarships. I mainly work with charcoal.
Any tips on how I can maintain my skills?

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The following exercises can be done with most writing or drawing utensils while focusing on other things. They will train your imagination, and will maintain your hand-eye coordination and finger and hand movements involved with drawing:

  • Take your utensil of choice, find an even and blank surface and doodle.
    This can be done while listening to lectures or podcasts, and could even help you concentrate better.

  • Write differently. Instead of your regular handwriting, experiment with other types. Try writing in cursive, mirrored, with your other hand, or only using capitals, &c.
    This is easy to do while doing your homework or taking notes.

The following things can be done in the margins of your (note)books, or on small pieces of paper you happen to carry, like receipts. They will need temporary attention, however:

  • Do small exercises. For example, experiment with different kinds of hatching, try giving simple forms (spheres, cubes, pyramids, blobs) a convincing apparent three-dimensionality, combine different colours to see how they interact, or draw only residual shapes (the shapes between objects), &c.

  • Make quick sketches of objects around you. Limit the time you spent on a single drawing. Try to alternate what you focus on: shading, proportions, volume, contrast, composition, &c.

  • Hang up a single or a few sketches by (old) masters (e.g. Annibale Carracci, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya) where it is that you study, and observe these whenever you feel like you can use a short break from your homework or studying.
    Pay attention to the lines: the accuracy and swiftness with which they were put on paper, the changes in their thickness and what they signify. Analyze the hatching, and how those lines relate to each other and to the contours of the object drawn. This will hone your observational skills, enhance your knowledge of drawing, and likely increase your urge to draw (which is either a good or a bad thing in this situation :).

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  • That sounds like a good way to not losing the skill over time
    – Isaac750
    Jan 15 at 22:08
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When you have time, do a proper piece of art. Spend as long on it as you have the time and put it to the side when you run out of time and not finished yet.

But for those days you do not have the time, do a quick 10 minute bit.
It can be in a small book of (proper) sheets and finish one drawing per 10 minutes, fix them properly the next time you have a minute and turn the next page open for the next day. You may need a couple of books if you can not protect the charcoal every day.
Or have on big sheet ready for work and do a small section with a small drawing each day.
If you look at the work of the main masters you will see that a lot of them have a lot of small drawings on a big sheet in which they put attention to parts of bodies (like hands or eyes) or buildings (doors or windows) or whatever they are studying at the time.

As you are concerned about loosing skills, you can set yourself a skill per session and concentrate your efforts on that skill and do a restricted size or a next section on the big sheet. Do remember, it is not about the resulting looks, it is about your muscle and mind memory about doing the things.

If you can not find 10 minutes each day you should reconsider making it your future. If you are passionate, you can always find a few minutes each day.
The problem might be to restrict yourself to only those few minutes, if you are like that do plan those minutes in a break between lessons. And set an alarm you can not ignore if you do it at home between online lessons.

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