6 things I learned after drawing 319 drawings in 4 months and 13 days

SONY DSC

6 things I learned after drawing 319 drawings in 4 months and 13 days

In September 2014 i decided that i wanted to get better at drawing – I had done some in the past, but nothing i was too happy about showing to people, so I decided to make this blog and draw at least one drawing every day. I’ve kept it on for four months and thirteen days now (good round number) and although I’m not yet in a place to teach anybody anything, I think that i can sum up on some of the important points that i have learned.

So let’s start with my first realization:

1. Focusing on quality is good, but

Quantity above everything!

2015-01-20a
There’s about three months between these two drawings and they both took around 45 minutes to draw!

This blog is called One Drawing Daily – not “two wall pieces per year” or “doodles whenever i feel like it”.
In fact – I sometimes think that i ought to have called it Several Drawings Daily or maybe just DrawDrawDrawDrawDraw.COM (that one might be available for one of you guys)

The thing is, that even though I think that one should take care and put some effort into each drawing, it’s not the painful task of finishing a 12-hour drawing that makes you an artist – At least not if you’re going to then watch Battlestar Galactica for two weeks before picking up a pencil again.

I get a lot out of doing something every day – however little. In the Christmas holidays I did some tremendously bad drawings because I just didn’t have the time – but I did make them and I did post them – and that leads me further on to my next point which is that :

2. you should

Share everything you do!

2014-12-10a2015-01-14a2015-01-22a
Jack Nicholson having a really bad day and Jack Nicholson feeling better – but still looking angry though. Only one month between these two. (And then there’s a drawing of Gandalf – what’s he doing there?)

Be it online*, in a group, or showing your drawings to your mom it is been really really helpful for me to have an audience. In fact, my audience doesn’t care if I skip a day or two.. They’re nice. But having them in mind, I still cannot help but feel obliged to post at least one little crummy drawing per day. They’ve also been a great source of encouragement, critiques and suggestions (thanks – you know who you are ;))

*I made a bulletin board on Reddit here where you can join me in sharing your daily drawings if you’d like

One thing that i have learned from my readers’ suggestions is that

3. you get a lot out of

Exploring different media

2014-11-29a2015-01-16a
Hands before and after focusing on watercolor for a month

I have worked with pencil, ink and watercolor so far – plus a few occasional experiments with pastels, collage or other things.
One thing that i have noticed, is that when I have been dwelling on a medium for a while, trying to get better, I hone my artistic skills in the other fields without even thinking about it!

Some time ago I was working on filling my sketchbook with pencil drawings because I had a new watercolor sketchbook that i wanted to break out. Starting a new medium can be (almost) as hard as starting all over, but you progress fast. For more than a month, I did almost exclusively watercolors, and it was only on an exceptionally lazy day when I didn’t want to get all messy with paint and water that I decided to just do a quick pencil drawing. Suddenly I realized that I had progressed quite a bit with my drawing skills while concentrating on painting.
Working in a different medium is also a great idea if you feel stuck with whatever you’re doing, or even if you’re starting to get bored (it happens) – Instead of throwing this whole project on the floor if i ever feel bored with watercolors – I’ll just pick up some acrylic paints!

Here are a few examples of different Medias i have done during the last four months.

SONY DSC2014-12-28aSONY DSC2014-11-13c2014-10-10b2014-11-02c
These are watercolor, ink pastels (yes, that is a SELF PORTRAIT) pencil, collage (it’s an elephant’s face) and charcoal

I must admit that i almost always do my drawings from photos. The only exception above is the third image. I am sometimes a bit too lazy to get out of my comfy chair and into the wild, but still,

4. whenever you can, you should

Do drawings of real life, living things (such as yourself)

2014-10-19c2014-12-21c
Above is a perspective from inside my home, as well as a self portrait of my hand with a mirror in it. Things you can easily do without freezing your fingers or getting wet socks

Yes, I have neglected it so much. But you can really learn a lot from drawing from real life rather than picture references. Pictures are already an idealization, but if you’re out there in the street, you have to choose the angle, what to include and what to leave out and it can be so unpredictable. I strongly recommend sitting down in front of the mirror and doing a self portrait – or a hundred of them if you can’t find anybody else to sit still for this long duration. You’ll be surprised how hard it can be even to convince yourself to stay in the same pose for a long enough time. Sooner or later, people will start wondering if you might be ever so slightly narcissistic for constantly drawing yourself and that is the moment where you ask them to sit for you! How can they refuse?

Portraits can be really really hard, especially since most of us have drawn faces as kids and the “codes” rest with us. We think we know what an eye, a mouth and a nose looks like, so we go with that gut feeling instead of looking. I don’t know if there is any way around that. I suppose it all comes down to the before mentioned “Quantity above all” – do it a lot, and you’ll learn.

Also, if you’re trying to do a portrait, but everything seems wrong, try turning your (or your model’s) head – and NO smiling!

So what if you’re self-conscious about drawing your face, or you can’t draw your face, or… you don’t have a face or something?

5. Why not

Draw your own hand

2014-10-22d2014-10-25b2014-12-20c
Above you see a drawing of my hand as it looked three months ago, a skeleton-hand just for sports and then a more recent hand drawing

Your hand is literally attached to your body. Wherever you go, you bring it with you. Hands are beautiful, they have interesting texture, shady cracks and bright highlights. Some even have hair on them, and they’re a part of the human organism which means that they follow the same rules that compose the whole body. Drawing hands is a great way to learn about these generalities that make up every human being. In fact after drawing loads of hands for a long period, my portraits got better even though it was something I didn’t exercise!

So DO draw your hand

6. Unless you don’t want to, then

Draw whatever you feel like

2014-11-19c2014-10-31C[1]wpid-wp-1414059051202.jpgwpid-wp-1413974617164.jpg
A five-headed bodyless portrait of multiplemichael, a Rembrandt study done with a t-square, my shoe and a little fixture for holding a desk-lamp

There may be a lot of things that you ought to draw, or that you think that you ought to draw in order to get better. Or maybe you think that you have to draw naked people because that’s what artists do, even though you just want to draw giraffes or spaceships. Maybe you even have some art teacher or a well-meaning mentor who advocates some kind of method or some kind of drawing that has proven helpful for him or her, but you just don’t feel like it.
Then just draw whatever you want. I’ve noticed that my pencil drawing got better when i worked with watercolor, my portraits got better when i drew hands and even my sense of perspective has improved while drawing portraits. Drawing is drawing. (Is drawing is drawing is…?) and it doesn’t really matter if you draw houses, horses, hands or.. Heisenberg.. your overall skill will improve, and you’ll eventually be able to draw that bowl of oranges that your drawing teacher so desperately wants you to draw. Just have fun!

And that’s pretty much all i want to say for now!

So

In conclusion

It’s been four months and thirteen days and I’ve done 319 drawings. I’ve still got so much to improve, sometime I’m quite dissatisfied with my drawings to this point, but then I try to think of the bigger perspective. This is how far I have come after 319 drawings. What will my 1000’th drawing look like?
Why not start doing one drawing daily? Or two, or several? (go register that domain!)
You don’t have 15 minutes a day to draw a quick sketch? Sure you have – do it when there’s commercials in the TV.
And if you do start doing one drawing per day (or if you’re already doing it) – give me your link in the comment section! I’d really like to see them!

And in parting, I just wanted to show you the first drawing that I did the 9th September 2014:

SONY DSC
And if you want to check weather I have improved or not, go see today’s drawing!

See you next time! And happy drawing!

I’ll be back after.. Maybe 7 months and 21 days πŸ˜‰

136 thoughts on “6 things I learned after drawing 319 drawings in 4 months and 13 days”

  1. It has been fascinating to see how much you have improved both in pencil and watercolour. You are right that practice makes the difference. Practice gives confidence. It is a question of looking and drawing what you see. And then make the move from photos to real life…

    Reply
  2. It has been fascinating to see how much you have improved both in pencil and watercolour. You are right that practice makes the difference. Practice gives confidence. It is a question of looking and drawing what you see. And then make the move from photos to real life…

    Reply
  3. This is a really interesting overview of the progress you have made and the lessons you have gleaned. You have definitely sharpened your eye for observing detail and honed your skills. The difference between your early drawings and how you draw now is impressive. I look forward to seeing your future drawings and progress.

    Reply
  4. This is a really interesting overview of the progress you have made and the lessons you have gleaned. You have definitely sharpened your eye for observing detail and honed your skills. The difference between your early drawings and how you draw now is impressive. I look forward to seeing your future drawings and progress.

    Reply
  5. This is a timely post for me. You’ve rekindled my interest–thank you. I’m particularly curious about #2: share everything. I don’t know why this is true, but it is entirely true. Sharing my dumb sketches has some positive effect. Maybe like going to confession (wait, I’m not even Catholic!). But putting out a drawing a day is, well, motivating. I’m also very eager to try different media (#3). Though I am completely scared by that. I can barely hold a pencil, let alone a color pencil or a…brush. yikes.

    Reply
  6. This is a timely post for me. You’ve rekindled my interest–thank you. I’m particularly curious about #2: share everything. I don’t know why this is true, but it is entirely true. Sharing my dumb sketches has some positive effect. Maybe like going to confession (wait, I’m not even Catholic!). But putting out a drawing a day is, well, motivating. I’m also very eager to try different media (#3). Though I am completely scared by that. I can barely hold a pencil, let alone a color pencil or a…brush. yikes.

    Reply
  7. Nice summary article of your work so far. I’d like to see you get out more and draw from direct observation. Even if you just sit in a comfy coffee shop and draw what you can see, I think that level of immersion would greatly assist you. Congratulations on keeping with your daily schedule!

    Reply
  8. Nice summary article of your work so far. I’d like to see you get out more and draw from direct observation. Even if you just sit in a comfy coffee shop and draw what you can see, I think that level of immersion would greatly assist you. Congratulations on keeping with your daily schedule!

    Reply
  9. Thankyou I’ve been watching this space and thinking I’m new at drawing this is something I’d love to do a drawing a day but my drawings are far and few apart procrastination, 😞 to be honest I haven’t through fear, fear it won’t be good enough that theres no one interested enough to look at it lol just fear in general maybe the courage will come sooner rather than later so thankyou ☺

    Reply
    • Sometimes you just have to jump and see what happens.. The last drawing in my post above was the very first that I did, and i wasn’t very happy about posting it online – to say the least.. But on the other hand, it was nice to use it sort of like an “ice breaker”.. “From now on it can only get better” – and the first few people stumbling into my blog also got an idea of what to expect.. Since last September people have written almost 1000 comments on my blog.. And a total of 0 (zero) have been mean or even critical (I do recieve constructive criticism, though which I am really happy about)..
      If you start drawing every day, I’d be following you πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  10. Thankyou I’ve been watching this space and thinking I’m new at drawing this is something I’d love to do a drawing a day but my drawings are far and few apart procrastination, 😞 to be honest I haven’t through fear, fear it won’t be good enough that theres no one interested enough to look at it lol just fear in general maybe the courage will come sooner rather than later so thankyou ☺

    Reply
    • Sometimes you just have to jump and see what happens.. The last drawing in my post above was the very first that I did, and i wasn’t very happy about posting it online – to say the least.. But on the other hand, it was nice to use it sort of like an “ice breaker”.. “From now on it can only get better” – and the first few people stumbling into my blog also got an idea of what to expect.. Since last September people have written almost 1000 comments on my blog.. And a total of 0 (zero) have been mean or even critical (I do recieve constructive criticism, though which I am really happy about)..
      If you start drawing every day, I’d be following you πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  11. Please don’t stop drawing and posting. I have learnt so much just by observing your progress. You have given me confidence to pick up the watercolours when I know that I could do it so much better with oil pastels.
    I think that progress comes as an artist as we learn to observe. When we first start, we see and draw lines. Then we progress to shadings thrn to colour, tones and the intricate details we don’t observe when we first start
    I agree that drawing from real life is much better than a photo. What is good though is if you take photos yourself, then paint or draw from them. You remember the atmosphere but have the benefit of unchanging light conditions when you paint from that photo back in the studio.
    Anyway, thank you for your blog. And good luck with the future.

    Reply
    • Thank you very much! I hope you’ll be posting some watercolors on your site then? Yes there definitely is some quality to drawing from real life.. I wish i lived in Sydney! I was there in 2009 and i remember sitting around in the parks drawing trees and buildings and looking at those crazy birds with the odd beak that you have down there ;).. These drawings look really crummy today, but they bring back some great memories

      Reply
  12. Please don’t stop drawing and posting. I have learnt so much just by observing your progress. You have given me confidence to pick up the watercolours when I know that I could do it so much better with oil pastels.
    I think that progress comes as an artist as we learn to observe. When we first start, we see and draw lines. Then we progress to shadings thrn to colour, tones and the intricate details we don’t observe when we first start
    I agree that drawing from real life is much better than a photo. What is good though is if you take photos yourself, then paint or draw from them. You remember the atmosphere but have the benefit of unchanging light conditions when you paint from that photo back in the studio.
    Anyway, thank you for your blog. And good luck with the future.

    Reply
    • Thank you very much! I hope you’ll be posting some watercolors on your site then? Yes there definitely is some quality to drawing from real life.. I wish i lived in Sydney! I was there in 2009 and i remember sitting around in the parks drawing trees and buildings and looking at those crazy birds with the odd beak that you have down there ;).. These drawings look really crummy today, but they bring back some great memories

      Reply
  13. it has been an inspiring thing, having your latest drawings pop up in my reader each morning. Congratulations on your perseverance!
    You can go as far as you like now – can you get back to some of the more direct/naive qualities of your early work, without losing your confidence?
    You can take Nietzsche’s advice and become yourself now – exciting times.

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot. Well that’s a hard one.. I suppose the first step would actually be identifying the qualities of that work to bring it further on.. It’s never been my goal to make 100% realistic things, so i suppose that one of the things I could “rewind” back to in my earlier drawings would be the certain exaggerations that can be seen in those drawings.. Also the roughness could be an approach.. But it’s difficult. I’d certainty like to take Nietzsche’s advice on that.

      Reply
  14. it has been an inspiring thing, having your latest drawings pop up in my reader each morning. Congratulations on your perseverance!
    You can go as far as you like now – can you get back to some of the more direct/naive qualities of your early work, without losing your confidence?
    You can take Nietzsche’s advice and become yourself now – exciting times.

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot. Well that’s a hard one.. I suppose the first step would actually be identifying the qualities of that work to bring it further on.. It’s never been my goal to make 100% realistic things, so i suppose that one of the things I could “rewind” back to in my earlier drawings would be the certain exaggerations that can be seen in those drawings.. Also the roughness could be an approach.. But it’s difficult. I’d certainty like to take Nietzsche’s advice on that.

      Reply
  15. I’ve been enjoying your drawings for a little while now but this is the post that has made me want to try it for myself! I’ve set a goal of one month to start with but hopefully I’ll be hooked by Feb 23rd and will continue indefinitely πŸ™‚

    My mind often goes completely blank when I try and think of something to draw so I’ve taken your advice and drawn my hand for my first drawing of the challenge: neschofield.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/hand-with-glasses-1/

    Thank you for the inspiration and keep them coming!

    Reply
  16. Enjoyed reading your summary and I can relate to much of it, especially the late-night-not-gotta-get-it-done-even-though-it’s-December illustrations and posting them regardless of how satisfied you feel with it. Thanks for sharing your work!

    Reply
  17. Enjoyed reading your summary and I can relate to much of it, especially the late-night-not-gotta-get-it-done-even-though-it’s-December illustrations and posting them regardless of how satisfied you feel with it. Thanks for sharing your work!

    Reply
  18. I have always enjoyed your daily drawings. Even though i may not check my reader daily, i made it a point to see what i have missed. Just recently, i posted this:
    “In WordPress blogs, i have been greatly inspired by all these artists who persevere in their commitment to paint, daily, despite the odds. (Thank you to YOU who inspire me!)”
    You were one of those i had in mind to thank. So thank you once again. God bless you and your blog! Renee

    Reply
  19. I have always enjoyed your daily drawings. Even though i may not check my reader daily, i made it a point to see what i have missed. Just recently, i posted this:
    “In WordPress blogs, i have been greatly inspired by all these artists who persevere in their commitment to paint, daily, despite the odds. (Thank you to YOU who inspire me!)”
    You were one of those i had in mind to thank. So thank you once again. God bless you and your blog! Renee

    Reply
  20. It’s a good post. I really enjoy to read this and I agree with point 3. Sometimes I get bored too and wanna try something new. But until now I still worried to use watercolor since 10 years ago after a bit incident. But you did it well πŸ˜€ you make me jealous :p
    But I would like to say thank you to you, I’ve learned a lot things from your artwork and It makes me to improve myself to be better πŸ™‚
    I hope you keep posting and share your artwork.. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • I’m glad that you liked the post , and it’s especially cool that you find it inpiring! I feel a little humbled. Go ahead and break out your watercolors. I’ve gotten far in just a month with watercolor. Try looking at some of the first paintings that i posted! You’re all giving me a lot of motivation to keep doing this , so ill definitely keep posting! Thanks

      Reply
  21. It’s a good post. I really enjoy to read this and I agree with point 3. Sometimes I get bored too and wanna try something new. But until now I still worried to use watercolor since 10 years ago after a bit incident. But you did it well πŸ˜€ you make me jealous :p
    But I would like to say thank you to you, I’ve learned a lot things from your artwork and It makes me to improve myself to be better πŸ™‚
    I hope you keep posting and share your artwork.. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • I’m glad that you liked the post , and it’s especially cool that you find it inpiring! I feel a little humbled. Go ahead and break out your watercolors. I’ve gotten far in just a month with watercolor. Try looking at some of the first paintings that i posted! You’re all giving me a lot of motivation to keep doing this , so ill definitely keep posting! Thanks

      Reply
  22. I admire you, youΒ΄re progress and approach are amazing!!! I think what I most admire is a small, but very important thing: Never give up! You never did. And now see, where you are. This is absolutely amazing! I am quite satisfied with my oil paintings, but when it comes to watercolor, I am a total loser. I would so much love to start something like “one watercolor daily” but I am quite afraid of disappointing myself again by giving up after 3 days. ItΒ΄s exactly the problem you described in point 1 – I lay down the pencil sometimes for weeks. But I think I will try: 1 watercolor a day for one month. Better a small beginning than no beginning. I will let you know about it. Thank you for being an inspiration!

    Reply
  23. I admire you, youΒ΄re progress and approach are amazing!!! I think what I most admire is a small, but very important thing: Never give up! You never did. And now see, where you are. This is absolutely amazing! I am quite satisfied with my oil paintings, but when it comes to watercolor, I am a total loser. I would so much love to start something like “one watercolor daily” but I am quite afraid of disappointing myself again by giving up after 3 days. ItΒ΄s exactly the problem you described in point 1 – I lay down the pencil sometimes for weeks. But I think I will try: 1 watercolor a day for one month. Better a small beginning than no beginning. I will let you know about it. Thank you for being an inspiration!

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Quora
  25. Pingback: Quora
  26. I started a “daily art” project at the beginning of the year so this is really inspirational to see your progress and your output. Keep going, your portraits have improved by miles!

    Reply
    • Hi! Good luck with that! I just took a look at your blog and i really like your work. Your watercolor landscapes are really beautiful. Have you been doing a lot of art before the start of the daily “challenge”? I’ll put up a link to you on my links section

      Reply
      • Thank you for your kind comments πŸ™‚ I only did a tiny bit before the challenge, I was really easily discouraged so gave up lots of times in the past. I only started using watercolours about a month ago, but they are so addictive!

        Reply
  27. I started a “daily art” project at the beginning of the year so this is really inspirational to see your progress and your output. Keep going, your portraits have improved by miles!

    Reply
    • Hi! Good luck with that! I just took a look at your blog and i really like your work. Your watercolor landscapes are really beautiful. Have you been doing a lot of art before the start of the daily “challenge”? I’ll put up a link to you on my links section

      Reply
      • Thank you for your kind comments πŸ™‚ I only did a tiny bit before the challenge, I was really easily discouraged so gave up lots of times in the past. I only started using watercolours about a month ago, but they are so addictive!

        Reply

Leave a Comment