Drawing on Drugs

Don’t try this at home kids. The experiment was done by the US government in the 1950s in a controlled environment. They were testing the effects of LSD on the artist.

The artist did nine drawings over a period of several hours. This is the first drawing in the series. It looks pretty normal, but that’s because the LSD hasn’t kicked in yet.

drawing on drugs On drawing number three, the artist says “Outlines seem normal, but very vivid.. everything is changing color. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active – my hand, my elbow.. my tongue.”

See the whole series of acid drawings at cowboybooks or the post where I found the story at Neatorama.

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About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. This is a fascinating series of drawings. The experimental context is creepy. Anyway, I heard stories of art students in Holland trying to find inspiration this way in the ’70s, but nothing much productive came out of it. I never saw the work though.

  2. Interesting!
    The drawings were fascinating, I found them quite good too actually.
    It’s interesting to see what comes out when restrictions are removed, but I find a lot of artists are well capable of doing that without the use of drugs… :)
    You have to wonder wheather it’s the inner non-restricted person talking or the drugs..

    I think the productivity of art produced while on drugs must depend a LOT on the drug.

  3. I believe that drugs such as LSD, or other “mind expanding” drugs are able to give us furious glimpses what our brains are already capable of. While under the influence though it’s all too much too fast. Many other artists have been/are able to achieve this hyper expanded state without drugs, you can’t induce genius…

  4. From the anecdotal evidence It seems likely that the primary function of the drug of choice in Europe and the U.S., alcohol, was to cope with the fear of failure not to induce greater creativity. Czezanne seems to have coped by bursts of rage, often involving destroying any work of his that happened to be handy. Of course, many an artist has resorted to sex for the same effect, rarely, one should think, with anything more creative emerging than a pregnancy or what we now call prettily, a sexually transmitted disease. Names will not be revealed on request.

  5. I really like what acid did to the artist after 2 hours, 45 minutes.

    I painted a cat once while getting drunker and drunker. The big difference was that the cat came closer and closer to me the more attention I paid to it so by the end I had 2 big eyes on the page. And the cat was cross eyed so it already looked drunk itself.

    Interesting blog. I wish to be anonymous.

  6. That’s funny anonymous.. you made me laugh.

    I have never had any urge to paint under the influence of anything, and the few times that I have tried it, I produced nothing of much interest.

    Music in the studio is my drug of choice.

    And Irv, I think so many artists resort to some kind abuse because they’re trying to put their skin back on. Just my opinion.

  7. This experiment looks like s type of dis-integration going on I think it is a little disturbing.

  8. I agree that music is the best drug to work under the influence of, but it was fascinating to see the rest of the drawings. I liked some of them.
    I tried to draw wasted once, a long time ago, and had kind of a similar feeling, of the hand being the one in control. But it was very unpleasant and the result was a disaster..

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