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!
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!
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
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.
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)
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
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
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!
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:
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 😉