Putting Daily Drawing On Hold

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

Why I Canceled My Medium Membership

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.

Learning to Draw, Day 18: Light Logic

Today I read about light logic, which results in four aspects of light and shadow:

  1. Highlight (brightest light)
  2. Cast shadow (darkest shadow cast by a subject blocking light)
  3. Reflected light (dim light, bounced back by other surfaces)
  4. 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):

Learning to Draw, Day 14: Drawing on the iPad

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:

Focus on the Day-to-Day Work

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. 

Learning to Draw, Day 11: Perspective

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. 

Learning to Draw, Day 10: Negative Space

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. 

Learning to Draw, Day 8: My First “Real” Drawing

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. 

Learning to Draw, Day 7: Tracing a Foreshortened Hand on a Plane

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.