I’m putting my daily drawing exercises on hold. They tax me more than I want in terms of both time and mental focus. Instead of a fun creative exercise, pushing through these at the end of long work days ends each day on a low note.
I made decent progress in the past three weeks, but at a high cost. Instead of spending more cycles each day on drawing, I’m going to work on it on weekends when I’m relaxed and can dedicate a few hours at a time to it.
I stretched myself too thin and it is taking its toll. Right now my priorities are:
- Physical and mental health. This means continuing my Starting Strength routine, walking more, turning off work in the evenings to spend more time with Amanda, meditating, cooking more instead of eating out, reading, and going to bed earlier.
- Work. Make sure I recharge more each night so I can focus and work on hard problems at work.dd
Instead of another try at my portrait, I decided to try another drawing with a focus on light and shadow, so I set up a swinging arm lamp to light up a coffee cup on a pedestal.
I drew it live and took a photo afterward. The photo isn’t from the exact perspective I viewed the cup from, it is from a little lower.
I was supposed to do another self portrait today after learning about seeing light, shapes, and lines.
I was rushed, mentally distracted, I forgot to tone the paper, and I shifted my seat, which messes up my angle of view in the middle of the drawing.
In other words, it sucked. I’m going to try again tomorrow.
Read about different intensities of shadows and various crosshatching techniques, then practiced them:
I jumped on-board the Medium Membership train back in March, as soon as I could. I was excited about it. I couldn’t wait to see the great content behind the paywall and to see what new features they were going to roll out just for members.
Well, three months later I’m cancelling my membership. Here’s why:
- The members-only content isn’t that good. The best stuff on Medium is already available to the public. I don’t care about the thinkpieces Medium features on a daily basis. I bookmark and recommend articles on Medium multiple times per week, so they have data to build a recommendation engine on. They need the archive of content there first, though.
- The audio feature is too small to be useful. I check the selection of audio versions of articles 3-4 times per week and I only found one so far I was actually interested in. Unfortunately, the reader sucked. Huge letdown. I can get past it if there is a wide implementation and more articles I wanted to read were available in audio, but that isn’t the case.
- I don’t need an offline reading list. I’m usually connected. If I’m not, Pocket, Raindrop.io, or Evernote can save a copy.
- No new tools for publications or authors come bundled with Membership, or at least none that I could find. It would be completely awesome if Members could submit audio versions of their own articles.
I hope Medium becomes profitable and stays around. But unless they roll out more features and get some compelling content behind the paywall, my membership is permanently on hold. Gotta deliver value fast and keep delivering, or your customers wont stick around.
Yeah, I know I’m n=1 and all that, but it is hard to see the real value add to a Medium Membership. It certainly isn’t worth $60/year to me. I wanted to love it, but it is a letdown.
Today I read about light logic, which results in four aspects of light and shadow:
- Highlight (brightest light)
- Cast shadow (darkest shadow cast by a subject blocking light)
- Reflected light (dim light, bounced back by other surfaces)
- Crest shadow (shadow that lies on the crest of a rounded form, between highlight and reflected light)
To practice seeing these types of light, I did a copy of Gustavo Courbet’s self-portrait.
Here is a comparison of the original (top) and my copy (bottom):
Today I filled in the details of yesterday’s drawing and fixed some of the scale issues. It isn’t perfect, but I’m going to call it complete today and move on to another drawing tomorrow.
Today’s drawing is still in progress. I had a busy day today and spent the entire evening down in the city, so I only got about 30 minutes to start a drawing of a leaf on the cover of this book I’m reading. I’m going to work on filling in the details tomorrow.
Today I did a quick sketch of the Broadway Bridge over the Harlem River on my iPad.
After I completed the drawing, I saw multiple places where I messed up the proportions and perspective. In particular, I made the bridge much too wide. I’ll pay particular attention to that tomorrow.
Today I decided to take a break from the specific Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain exercises and try out drawing on my new 10.5″ iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I used the Linea app and did another pass at my Day 8 hand drawing.
I don’t yet have fine control over the Apple Pencil. I’m still getting used to it. I love using my finger as the eraser and doing each part of the drawing as separate layers (outlines, details, and shading). I found shading much easier to control on the iPad than with a real pencil. I’m still going to do exercises in my real drawing pad, but I’ll probably shift a decent number to my iPad. One of my goals for learning to draw is being able to draw illustrations for my blog, which will all be done digitally.
Here is how it turned out:
Trying out Things 3. I really like the hierarchy: Areas > Projects > Sub headings/groupings > To do items > Checklists. Exactly what I’ve wanted. Goes 1-2 levels deeper than most to-do apps.
Today I drew a portrait of Amanda’s profile. She graciously sat at the table and worked while I drew and revised.
This was difficult. I don’t feel like I nailed it. Should the eyes be further back? Did I get her nose right? How do I handle the shadows and subtle curves of the cheek and jaw?
Here is where I stopped after about an hour:
Burning the midnight oil. Today I read about expanding the sighting and spacing I’ve been working on the last few days to faces. Then I spent about an hour applying what I learned to a line drawing of a portrait by Sargent.
Here is the comparison:
Tomorrow I draw a profile portrait of a real person. It will probably be Amanda.
Currently reading: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Focus on the day-to-day details of your work, not the grand vision.
- Gain the discipline to make your daily commitments happen and the bigger goals will follow.
- Working harder and smarter than your competition beats having a bigger vision every time.
- Make tangible improvements each and every day. No zero days.
- Silicon Valley’s recent infatuation with “changing the world” is funny. That isn’t how Google, Facebook, YouTube, Dropbox, or Airbnb started. They fixed one small problem and iteratively scaled.
- Focus on doing your best work each day and don’t blind yourself with trying to turn into a good story.
Today I did exercises to learn how to draw perspectives. The first was about finding scales and angles, then the second was a drawing of a complex scene to put those to use. I chose our entryway, complete with a crooked doormat and a pile of our shoes.
I think the left side came out much better than the right. I spent more time on it. I rushed the right side because I spent more time and I wanted on the left and started to get impatient.
It turned out better than I could have done a week ago, but it took much more time, energy, and focus that I expected.
Today I had to draw a chair, but not in the usual way. Instead of drawing the lines and shapes that make up the chair, I had to draw the negative space instead. I didn’t take a photo or use the plastic pane very much, but drew from looking at the chair and occasionally using the frame to check proportions. This exercise is supposed to help with noticing negative space, framing, picking a guide for scaling, and comparing angles. After I was finished, I erased out the tone from the area between the shapes I drew. In this case, that ended up being the chair.
I don’t think I nailed the proportions. The top is rough. The only area what I think is strong is the triangle area between the right leg and the seat.
This was a tough exercise.
I repeated yesterday’s exercise, but this time with a fountain pen in my hand, cap on. It took me about an hour. I still don’t quite get the shading, but it is becoming easier to zoom in on details and lines.
Today I did my first “real” drawing. Not a trace, not an upside down copy, but an actual drawing. I focused with one eye on my hand and drew the lines and curves the best I could.
I still don’t really know what to do with shadows, highlights, etc, but I’m pretty pleased with my first actual drawing. It is a lot better than I would have come up with 8 days ago, so shifting the way I see seems to be working.
Tomorrow I’m going to try the same exercise again, this time holding an object in my hand as well.
The NYTimes Magazine’s set of graphic stories (read: comics) they published last week are fantastic. Check them out: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/02/magazine/new-york-stories-introduction.html
Today I did an exercise to help see like an artist sees: Using a plastic viewfinder to create a flat plane, resting it on my hand, and then using a non-permanent marker to trace all of the edges. (Reminder: In drawing, an edge is where any two areas meet, not just an outline.)
I did this four times with my hand in different foreshortened configurations. I noticed that I tended to close my right eye each time I did the exercise in order to help me focus on my hand in a 2-dimensional way. I’ll remember this for the future when I’m framing up a real drawing.
Here are some photos I took along the way:
I know that I was just tracing what I saw, but each time I removed the plastic frame, I was surprised at how well it turned out. It looks remarkably like my real hand.
Tomorrow I’m taking this exercise a step further: Instead of tracing my hand on the plastic, I’m going to do my best at drawing it on actual paper.