Monday, February 20, 2017

365 Days of Sketching Challenge -- Is it for you? + Considerations

365 Days of Sketching Challenge by Mary Highstreet, Comparing Tigers on Day 10 with Day 365
Above: 365 Days of Sketching Challenge by Mary Highstreet - comparing day 10 (top) with day 365 (bottom).

365 Days of Sketching may be for you if...

You want to have the discipline to create day after day.
You are interested in habit building. You see other artists getting ahead, working hard and generating new work daily. You wish you could have that kind of discipline. Get into the daily habit of drawing every day, regardless of how you feel, in the hope that it will continue forever.

You want to kill sloth and procrastination.
No more putting things off; here is a daily chance to fulfill your artistic desires.  "A year from now you will wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb

You have ideas to get out of your head.
Realize the ideas you've been holding onto, clearing out your mind.

You have general artistic goals, but no overarching or specific direction yet.
You can discover your overall direction and ultimate artistic desires as you go, there is a lot of time to discover what you love and flesh out your ideas.

You have a project in mind, but haven't taken the first step toward completion.
You need practical way to create art for your personal project - or - you might want to turn it into it's own project.

You are a dreamer rather than a doer.
You have wonderful ideas and lots of them, but nothing to show for it. Ie. your biggest obstacle is simply putting the pencil to the paper.

You complain how you wish you could do more art.
Complain no more, you'll be creating every day and creating a whole lot of new art, fast.  Maybe you want to enjoy your free time but you are always thinking about how you wish you were doing more art.  Free your mind when not working; getting out all those thoughts and imagery out relieves the pressure to create and fulfills artistic desire.  Creating daily fuels you the rest of the day/week.  Truly enjoy other activities as hobbies now because time spent on art shifted from "hobby" to daily practice & career.  Creating daily means you can easily focus on and be excited about what you have already done and what's next rather than ruminate on and complain about what you wish you were doing.

You want to brush up on, develop, and acquire new skills; and accomplish goals.
To develop a skill, you might consider bringing a book and/or class into the mix - or - try mixing studies with personal work.  In order to see improvement, you need a specific direction or goal and you need to push yourself; constantly be asking yourself about what you need/want to improve on, then push and challenge yourself to reach those plateaus.

Skills Learned (or brushed up on):
Discipline, consistency, routine, daily practice of art, brainstorming, visualization, muscle and arm strength, muscle memory, creativity, technical skills… etc.

Goals Accomplished:
Brushed up on anatomy, gesture, three dimensional drawing, anatomy/structure, perspective, value groups, line quality, proportion, basic perspective, line work and style, form, motion/movement, visualizing different perspectives and camera angles, and drawing from my imagination.  Completed studies of various artists I had been meaning to do for a long time.  And my personal favorite: develop/create/discover my own personal drawing style.

You want to improve your art.
Nathan Fowkes credits daily painting for his massive growth, and Noah Bradley got his first Spectrum award after just one year of daily painting!  ...where could it take your art?

You want to conquer your fears...
-Fear of the blank page.
-Get over the fear of not being good or not being able to create.
-Build confidence with a pencil.  
-Tackle any drawing problem without fear.
-Fear of bad drawings.
Break through all sorts of artistic barriers and blocks.

Drawing daily eliminated a lot of fears.  There's one I want to talk about in particular: don't be afraid of bad drawings. A professor once told me you have to get the bad drawings out before the good ones come.  One thing I've learned by following various artists is that every single artist has bad drawings (I've even heard professionals talk about burning or destroying their bad drawings to keep up their appearance/reputation).  Many artists also curate their own work to show only the best most representative work publicly.  You don't have to share your bad drawings.  As a bonus, if you draw through your bad drawings, someday even your "bad" drawings won't be so bad anymore.  Just make a mark even if it's bad, you can try and clean it up, erase and start over, or move to a new spot on the same page re-try - or - if you aren't in a bound sketchbook you can grab a new sheet of paper.  Whatever you do with your bad drawings don't be afraid of them, don't let that stop you from creating.  Eliminating the desire to achieve a perfect drawing every time will open up creativity, make your drawings alive and less rigid, and allow you to develop a comfortable creative workflow.

. . .



Consider your medium.
Do you want to limit it or use a variety of tools and experiment?  Pencil, ink, painting, digital painting...a combination?

Start small.
If you are having trouble starting, one suggestion (which I did) is commencing with studies of other artists.  It's much easier than coming up with things out of thin air, especially if visualization/brainstorming is something you're either rusty at or not used to yet.

Simple tools.
You don't need to purchase a lot of new tools, you can see the ones I used at the bottom of this post.

Here are a few ideas to start: tell someone, use social media, try this calendar: Don't Break the Chain Calendar by Boneshaker Press

Just start.
Starting is the hardest part, commit to doing 1 minute and you will end up doing more (this advice came from several professionals).

Themes or wing it?
I did it all... I started with weekly themes, sometimes I winged it (which was incredibly hard and un-motivating), towards the end I kept a smaller sketchbook to jot/sketch rough ideas to flesh out later during 365, sometimes I wrote notes goals or improvements at the bottom of the page before and/or after each drawing.  At the very end, once I had developed a personal project idea (with the help of Chris Oatley's Art Cast), I used the drawing time toward that end (which was super motivating).  I think using 365 either as a project or for project completion is nice for continuity and marketability.  In my case, since my goal was simply to start a new habit and improve in a multiple areas, trying a variety of themes and techniques ended up working really well.

Sketchbook or free sheets?
Free sheets allows you to do get into a workflow by creating as many drawings as you want in a row and also allows you to take the best drawing from the set for that day.  Of course if you're using a bound sketchbook, you can also sketch in other places to get your workflow, but the negatives here are if you think you might like to draw in multiple places, consider how your stream of consciousness gets broken up (kind of like penning the first sentence of a story in one journal and finishing the rest of the story in's kind of strange) - and - with a bound sketchbook only presenting one drawing per page there's huge pressure to create something perfect for the sketchbook each time.  The benefit to one journal is that it's nice to have all your drawings in one place at the end!

Have a plan for when you get behind.
Although it's not ideal, unless your a machine or perfectly will happen.  So plan for it.  If you're going start a 365 challenge, make a decision not to quit even if you get behind.  And try not to get behind more than several days, to a few weeks, to a month max.  When this happened to me, I would just catch up and do as many drawings as I could each day until I caught up.  A couple bonuses by doing multiple drawings at once are: you can really get into the groove with workflow (an awesome quick way to catch up fast is trying out some gesture drawings), and since getting behind means pressure, one positive to that is it simulates client work, deadlines and real life.  Sticking with it to the bitter end requires commitment, dedication and extreme discipline.

Other variations of 365.
There are many kinds of drawing/painting challenges: Inktober, Mermay, Sketch Dailies for example...or you can make up your own.  They can range from several days, to a month, to several months or a full year.  See Even Mehl Amundsen's Instagram for his version of 365 (also completed this year), or take a look at Luke Mancini (Mr. Jack) who is currently doing 17 days of dragons.  If you don't think you're ready for something quite as big as 365, try something smaller first.

. . .

Will you take the challenge?

. . .

Commit to the LORD whatever you do,

and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

365 Days of Sketching Challenge . Completed January 2017
Initial Blog Post and Instagram

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Taking a Break

I have had a few posts in the works for a couple months now, but I can't finish them due to repetitive stress injury.  So I'll be taking a break from blogging while I recover.  I'm conserving what little time I am able to use my hands for drawing only at this time.  For now you can find me on Instagram sharing my favorite drawings from the 365 Days of Sketching Challenge and keep an eye out for new work in my shop soon!

Monday, May 2, 2016

INTERVIEW NOTES || Chiustream: Healthy Egos and Artists


FANTASTIC interview, just love Bobby Chiu's wisdom!  Here are my favorite gems to save from the interview:

- Design your life.  Realize why you are working?  To be with family, to have a better life...don't let work take over and you forget about the reason why.
- What most important ideas allow work freelance out of state?  Belief - faith in yourself is the key ingredient to rapid change.  Constantly re-thinking re-judging your stuff: Am I going in the right direction?  Am I learning anything this month?  Where do I feel life is going to be if I keep going in this direction?  Have a goal, they are huge, you need a destination.  Hoping gets you no where; action and goals take you there.  Be on the constant search for knowledge to be whatever your goal is.
- Don't wait for people/businesses companies to contact you.  Don't want for that job.  Just start doing it.  On your own.  Make your own work.  Research the company you want to work for and start preparing now, as if you are already working there!  When we do gallery shows, we get job offers because we are putting ourselves out there, we aren't waiting for anyone.  Always keep doing stuff.
- Find what you are passionate about; decide what it will be, and make a conscious decision to get passionate.
- Don't take small jobs that get in the way of your goal.  Don't make pit stops, the more irrelevant pit stops you make the longer it will take you to get to your goal.

Monday, March 21, 2016

INTERVIEW NOTES || Paper Wings Show #33 Interview With Claire Keane

Paper Wings Show #33 Interview With Claire Keane

Interview Notes

- Getting inside the head of the character and figuring out their motivation, becoming the character, even acting it out and thinking about life from their perspective allows you to create a more believable character.

- When you make a drawing and feel pressured by time and dive in, forcing things, making the wrong steps -- just take a breath and find out what it is you like about the project that you're doing, what it is you love about the image that you're going to make.  Find research and images and go off that, you can even just get one inspiring image, just when you start make sure you are starting from a place of joy rather than being frantic from pressure driven deadlines.  Pressure without the love and joy and inspiration part will either yield nothing, or very dull drawings.

- If I am frustrated that something isn't going right, I just need to open myself up, step back, and be open to anything you might throw out... most of the time it goes back to the concept of what I am trying to say.  If it's not working, I just need to start over, and when I do it just goes so much quicker.

- Everything I do has some big back story.  (Ex. With "Once Upon A Cloud," in the background she was reading a Carl Jung, "Man and His Symbols" book and thinking about the power of dreams and the subconscious in our wakeful hours.)

- Have a routine: run, come up with ideas, everyday.

- When you feel a story is off or not very good, ask the question: what was your point?  It needs to be clear.  What do you want to say at this very moment?  Answering that question boils it down to something you can work around and wrap your head around.

- Digital you can zoom, which leaves you in danger of loosing sight of the whole.  Put the Navigator on which acts like your peripheral vision, so you can subconsciously be aware of the whole.

- How to get out a story idea if having trouble?  What you're supposed to be doing, what you are supposed to be saying is in your desires and what you love, and if you can follow that and just let your heart guide you and your passions guide you to where you are supposed to be, you will find yourself inspired and inspiring people around you.

- Joseph Campbell Interviews also inspirational dealing with the subconscious.

Disney Animation Studios - Visual Development Artist
Penguin - Children's Book Illustrator (Nancy Poneski - Fantastic Editor)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 132 - March 2016

Sketch 1 by Lixin Yin

LOVED ImagineFX, Issue 132!!!  First of all, the forward, by Acting Editor Beren Neale on David Bowie and Labryinth being featured on the cover, was hysterical and especially fitting for this edition's theme of Classic Fantasy Film Art.  Reading about classic movie poster artists from the 80's and 90's (p. 40) was a fun blast from the past.  One of my favorite parts was reading about the Richard Amsel's process of creating the Indiana Jones poster art (p. 46).

I also enjoyed getting a look inside this month's Artist in Residence featuring a traditional painter, David Palumbo (p. 24), where he shares his home studio based in his living room.  He has a ton of resources at hand: a variety of camera equipment, a closet full of props and costumes, a nice traditional painting set up, as well as music on vintage vinyl records at the ready.  Loved his tip for freelancers on using physical post-it notes to prioritize jobs.

And an absolute favorite was the gorgeous tutorial by Min Yum on illustrating a Grimm Fairy Tale (p. 70).  Perhaps it was the red hair he chose to depict on the young girl that drew me in, always nice to see red heads in art not only because it is very relatable being one myself.  Additionally, I guess I'm still a sucker for Illustration!  I especially loved his ideation process starting with the thumbnails and moving into color studies before beginning the final work.  Everything about the piece and the process is delightful.

I especially enjoyed the very quick workshop on developing hue and lighting by Lixin Yin (p. 74), where he light a dark environment with two light sources, soft candle light and an unknown skylight.  I loved the details he chose to bring out especially in the fabrics and various textures.  Lastly, the entire article on creating life-filled RPG characters by Simon Dubuc (p. 76) was phenomenal.  As someone who isn't primarily a character designer, but interested in having characters in my paintings it was a great glimpse into the world of character art.  Every single tip he had was clear, to the point, and easy to understand in quickly understanding how to create a believable and memorable character.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Noah Bradley - Interview Notes


Going outside and doing plein air painting & studies of favorite landscape painters.  Did imaginative fantasy scene digital painting on the side while in school.  FREQUENCY:  1 per day (1-1.5 hours each) MORE DETAILS:  Worked on composition, color scheme, and lighting.  Took about 6 months till first ground breaking piece: first finished fully rendered environment.  Saw major progression in even one year.  One year later, took 3 months of job applications before anything.

Tried to get new work into portfolios as much as can.
Do your own work!
Market yourself big time.  Keep online profiles updated.
Learn Business.
Learn things I wish they taught me in art school: make really good art AND show it to the right people.


Made it into Spectrum! (one year after starting daily painting)
Card art and Freelance Jobs
Dungeons and Dragons
MtG (Sent art director a post card.)