A new year is always a golden opportunity to compare your writing or your art to previous years. I always like doing that, but when it comes to my art, I like it less and less for every year. From 2005-2007 I improved immensely, while I can hardly see any improvement whatsoever these past three years. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist, of course.
The lack of progress is extremely easy to explain. In 2005-2007 I had a pretty severe depression, and painting was the only thing I really managed to do. Naturally I painted a lot. I was active on art websites, got a lot of feedback, worked with new pictures almost as soon as I finished one. I had some large projects that I spent hours upon hours on. I tried new things. I tried different subjects. But most importantly, I painted really often.
However, as my ability to function grew, my time and motivation for painting decreased. Perhaps it reminded me too much of the days when I couldn’t do anything else, who knows. Moreover, I have always just… drawn. I’ve never sat down and studied anatomy, how things really look beyond looking at a few tutorials when stuck. While I own several art books, I’ve never really practiced. And drawing without actually practicing can only take you so far.
Sooner or later you will have to sit down and say to yourself: hey, I’m going to learn how to draw hands properly. Or I’m going to learn to draw feet. And how does a nose really look from this angle, or that? Sooner or later you will have to not only rely on drawing from imagination, but learn to use reference or draw from life. Train your observational skills.
I could say that I had focused so much on my dream to become a published author that I forgot that my original – my real – dream is to be a published author and artist. One who can paint their own covers. Illustrate the books, paint scenes from them… But really, I’m just slacking. I’ve never sat down and consciously practiced writing either. I’ve just written. Just as I’ve always just drawn, just painted.
Mindlessly doing a thing that you like will get you a certain distance, but it won’t make you really good. Well, I want to become really good. I want to be able to see whether the proportions of my drawings are correct or not. Whether my composition is good or not. If my use of light and colour is optimal. Of course you never finish learning these things, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to try (far from it!).
So I’ve made myself a sketchbook challenge. If any of my readers are artistically inclined, feel free to join. The basic premise is extremely simple. Fill a sketchbook with exercises as soon as you can. Today I practiced hands, and this was the result:
Sorry for the bad picture, I didn’t take it through Photoshop first. Also some if it is smudged, because I drew the hand on the left last. Not as bad as I feared, though there’s certainly room for improvement. Can you tell which ones I drew first and last?
As I was writing this post, which as usual became far, far longer than I had intended (it was really only a “hey, look, I’ve practiced!” post – but the good thing about long, rambling posts is that they give you time to think), I realised that there was no point in keeping the project to myself. Wouldn’t it be nice to give each other feedback and encouragement? Therefore I challenge YOU. Find a sketchbook, or buy one, and start taking it everywhere. Try to fill it up as soon as possible. Practice all those things you cannot really do, whether it is anatomy-related, a specific angle, a specific thing… Whatever you need to practice.
Every two weeks I will write a new Sketchbook Challenge post here. Since I have the Saturday Snippet posts every other Saturday, I figured it would be nice to alternate with the Sketchbook Challenge. I will post whatever I have worked on, whether it’s good or hilariously bad, and encourage you to do the same on your blog or dA journal or whatever you’re using. Or you can just comment how your drawing went the last two weeks. Anyone up for it?
Today I focused on hands, but the next two weeks I will focus on necks and shoulders, perhaps some facial anatomy. Those are my major stumbling blocks nowadays…
I had intended to post some of my new pictures, but this post is already pretty long. I’ll probably update it again very soon!