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

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! Looking forward to your comments!