Week 9-10 summary and progress so far – learning to draw

This is a week 9-10 summary of my 365-day experiment in applying the principles of deliberate practice to (finally) learn to draw.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, so I’m combining weeks 9 and 10 into one update. And since it’s been about two months since I started, I thought it would be nice to do some before-after drawing progress comparisons.

The focus of week 9’s practice was learning to draw forms in 3D that have a rim and handle, like a simple mug. I happen to have drawn a mug for fun back in week 4 or so, and did the same mug again in week 9. The only difference is that the first cup had its lid on, and the second cup was without the lid.

drawing practice before after one month
Before and after 5 weeks of drawing practice. This is a drawing of the same cup.

Below you can see some of my practice pages from week 9, where I tried using simple lines to draw various mugs from life.

Observational drawing practice for week 9 – Form and space

Christmas fell during week 9, so I did some free practice drawing to make Christmas cards (in fineliner pen with Copic-style markers). Here is what they looked like.

Week 9- Christmas cards on heavy paper in ink.

I also made a little thank you note for the girl who delivers the local flyers. It’s customary to give the delivery folks a little Christmas gift (cash is probably most appreciated). Below you can see my sketches for the card (it shows our mailbox with our house in the background). I took a photo with my phone for reference, and used that for the first sketch. The subsequent sketches used that first sketch as reference.

Sketches for thank you card. Progress is clockwise from bottom left.
Final drawing for Thank You note.

I also did a practice drawing for my initial idea for Christmas cards, making a Zentangle-inspired Christmas tree design. Tangling is a fun way to practice drawing lines and shapes. I enjoyed making this, but realized that it would be too time consuming to do all this linework neatly on several cards.

Drawing setup and Christmas Card sketch (on Tissue paper)

While on the topic of Zentangle and line practice, here is a comparison of where I started and where I am now. First an initial page, and then two tangles from week 9.

Day 26 – Practicing patterns and shapes, and doing first zentangles.
Done freehand on iPad in procreate (except for the outside circle, where I used the drawing aids to make the circle. Line smoothing set to 0, so I had to keep a steady hand.
freehand zentangle on ipad with procreate
Drawn freehand on ipad in procreate, again with no drawing aids or smoothing settings on the pencil. This is the first time I tried adding shading.

The above are not great drawings by any means, but the biggest difference for me beween now and when I started back in November is that I would even dare to attempt making drawings to share with anyone. Another difference is that I’m getting better at imagining an idea and then bringing it to life with sketches. I would not have even known where to start with this a couple of months ago.

In week 9 and 10 I also completed the “Form and Space” module of The Art and Science of Drawing, and went on to to the “measuring and proportions” module. Form and space culminates with having you draw a simple still life using three basic objects of different forms. You are not supposed to add shading…just use lines to indicate the forms and shapes. I did this initially, but couldn’t resist trying to indicate the black cup by adding some dark values to it. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo before I’d done this (oops!). Below you see my initial basic volumetric shape still lifes from week 8/9, and then what I was doing by the end of week 9.

The first three still lifes below were before I’d done the “measuring and proportions” exercises. For the blue still life, I used techniques like angle sighting to help me. You will have to trust me that the blue still life is much closer to the real proportions than the first three.

Final still lifes for the Form and Space project.

In Week 10 I also moved on to the Creating Contours module of The Art and Science of Drawing. In this module you learn to add contour lines to suggest volumetric shape. Note that we are still not doing any actual shading yet. But we are encouraged to use line weight and line quality to suggest volume, shape, and position in 3D space. For example, you can use atmospheric perspective to suggest a form receding into the distance.

This was a VERY challenging module for me. I really struggled to draw what I was actually seeing (as opposed to what I THOUGHT I was seeing). For some reason, it’s easier for me to get a good result if I draw from a photo reference than when I draw from life. Somehow the photo makes it easier to translate what I see to what I draw.

In any case, here is some of my practice output from the Contours module.

Suggesting contours with line work
Blocking in basic shapes and simple contour lines on an organic form

We learned about “cross contour” lines this week. This is lines that run across the form to suggest a sense of volume.

Cross contours exercise with apple – Week 10 day 4

I finished off week 10 with a quick illustration on my ipad. It was New Year’s even and I couldn’t sleep, so I created a sketch on to try to capture how I was feeling about moving into 2021 after what was arguably the strangest year I’ve ever experienced in my life. I finished the drawing by adding textures in Photoshop the next day. The notable thing about this drawing is that I’m actually able to take a concept from an idea in my head to some kind of illustration. I would not have been able to to this before. It’s nice to move into a new year with a feeling that I’m making progress.

New Year’s illustration. 2020 is dead, 2021 feels like a young tender sprout.

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