Week 3 summary – Learning to draw

Herewith I regale you with a summary of my third week of my spend a year learning to draw by practicing every day project. (Read the background here).

It’s interesting to me to see how my ideas about what I want to be able to do at the end of the year are changing. As a rank beginner, I’m sure I suffer from the you don’t know what you don’t know phenomenon. So it’s natural that as I develop my skills and knowledge about drawing, my taste, likes and dislikes will also evolve. Here are some of the insights I’ve had during this week of drawing practice.

I am drawn to simple but evocative line drawings, like cartoons, comics, and illustrative art. This is a big surprise to me, because I have never read a comic book in my life. They have never appealed to me. I’ve always appreciated the art behind the drawing, but man, reading a story in the form of speech bubbles and text boxes has always been a turn-off.

But that is all changing now. To practice drawing basic lines, shapes and proportions BUT still have fun, I started trying to copy simple drawings that catch my eye. I’m not sure how I ended up there, but eventually the algorithm sent me to a Youtube channel called Struthless. He does a really cool and impressive thing where he draws a certain person or character in the styles of several different artists, one after the other. It’s really inspiring how with just a pencil, pen, and colored markers he can quickly create such a variety of creative drawings.

Week 3 Gallery

I love the idea of being able to take a piece from start to finish in a relatively short time. I can’t imagine spending entire days or weeks on a single piece. And I love the idea of being able to quickly illustrate a concept, scene, or idea with a “simple” drawing. Developing this skill would be a big help for me in creating images for my English learning podcast. I spend FOREVER looking for stock images that are OK to use just so I can break up the text with something visual. And I’m never happy with what I’m able to find. If you’ve never had to do it you’d be surprised at how much time you can spend looking for a few freaking stock images to illustrate a post. It’s not creative, it doesn’t teach you anything, it develops no skill, all it does is pretty up your post. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that time creating your own illustrations? The time I spend searching stock sites seems like it would be much better spent practicing drawing with purpose.

Long story short, in the coming weeks I will focus my fun drawing practice on cartoon and illustration style drawing. Yes, there will be a lot of copying. I am still trying to get my hand-eye coordination up to snuff and work on the basic quality of my lines and shapes. So copying is a good way to do this without the pressure of trying to be creative on top of that.

While looking for inspiration of things to draw this week, I came across the lovely Tatyana Deniz’s website. She embarked on a similar “learn to draw” journey in which she spent 6 months teaching herself how to draw in the Japanese kawaii style. I found a lot of useful tips and resources on her site for setting up an efficient learning program for oneself. She had the foresight to make a detailed plan to follow in advance, whereas I am basically just winging it and letting my reflection on my learning guide me from week to week. I need to spend some time thinking and devising a plan of action. Planning out a whole year in advance seems too daunting, but I can at least sketch out one month at a time. In any case, Tatyana’s site introduced me to the charming kawaii style, which is a great style for practicing simple lines, shapes and curves. And it is pretty easy to end up with a pretty cute drawing, even as a beginner.

The 250 box challenge has been kind of hit or miss. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting a little better, but then I draw a box that is horrifically off. The worst thing is that I don’t feel like I’m getting the right kind of feedback on every single box. The method has you draw a full page of boxes by eye, and then check your work with a ruler. This means that if you’re making mistakes, you’re just repeating those same mistakes for 5 or 6 boxes before you check. The worst thing is that when I check with the ruler, I’m always unable to see exactly where I went wrong. If I try to fix the worst line, then it messes up other lines. My estimation is that it takes me about 45 minutes to draw and check 5-6 boxes, if I am careful with my line quality. At the end of this week I’m at box 51. Going at a 45-minute per 6-box pace it’s going to take me another 44 hours to complete the 250 boxes. I am seriously beginning to doubt that the 250 box challenge is the best use of my limited practice time at this stage of my development. But will give it one more week before I decide.

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