Week 1 summary – learning to draw

I’m spending 1 year learning to draw (read the background here). Here are the results of my first week of practice since making this decision. There are also notes about what I’m learning every day. Reflecting on the learning process is, after all, is supposed to be important for one’s progress.

One of the mind-fuckiest things about being a beginner is that the universe of possible things to learn seems, well, infinite, just like the universe. Especially if, like me, you’re trying to learn something difficult and complex all on your own, without the benefit of a teacher. So ‘twould be folly for me to expect to be able to cook up a detailed plan for each week of the coming year all by myself. An optimally efficient plan, I mean. The best I can do is plan from month to month, and then revaluate and adapt as I go based on how much progress I feel like I’m making.

In my first post I mentioned that the trick will be sticking with things that are difficult long enough to actually improve. I have a long history of changing course once I reach what seems to be an impassable obstacle in the learning road. (That’s a metaphor for giving up on shit once it starts feeling too hard.)

During month one of my plan (1 / 12th of box number 56) I’m attempting to follow the Drawabox.com lessons. Including the dreaded 250 box challenge. This is because seeing things in 3D space is a huge weakness for me, and I also want do develop fundamental mark-making skills. You know, things like being able to draw a freaking straight line or a relatively even ellipse or circle. The results of my first week of practice are in the gallery below:

Week 1 drawing practice

What was it like doing these exercises? It was quite shocking how difficult it is to get my hand to reliably go where I want it to go. You would think that drawing a straight line from point A to B would be easy. But it’s not. I will say though, after the first two or 3 days I noticed a pretty big improvement.

Drawabox recommends that you pick a couple of these exercises to do for a few minutes every day as warm-ups. I sacrificed a page of paper at the beginning of every session to doing more ghosted lines and planes, and drawing ellipses and circles. I noticed a big improvement this first week. I started the week without being able to draw a straight line. Now — if I am warmed up and properly focused — I can fairly reliably draw a straight line across the whole page. As for ellipses, they are still not great, but they are definitely better than they were at the beginning of the week.

Another thing that Drawabox recommends is to spend 50% of your drawing time just drawing for enjoyment. This is really hard for me to do, because it’s hard to enjoy something when you know how much you suck at it. During this first week of drawing I was really just getting my bearings with the exercises and establishing a daily habit of practicing, so I didn’t do much drawing just for fun. The main exception is the whiteboard sketch of my dog, Hoshi. I gave myself 10 minutes to draw from the photo reference, and tried to use my shoulder as much as possible. I will repeat this same drawing when the year is up to see if there has been any improvement.

I will try to be better about drawing for pleasure next week. Already now I can say that I am leaning toward practicing cartoons and simple drawings that let me get further practice just drawing lines and basic shapes. The main thing is to keep momentum and draw something every day, even if it’s just technical line practice. Onward to week 2!