So this challenge took a little longer than I anticipated, but I did finish (I’m going to slowly upload the results over the next few days) and I’m so glad I gave this challenge a go. Not only is it so nice to look back through the sketchbook and see so many pages filled over a relatively short space of time, but it was really fun to play with different media knowing it didn’t matter if it didn’t work out as I intended. On top of that it was so good to be able to sketch animals I wouldn’t necessarily be able to fit into my other work, and into the bargain it gave me a better understanding of animal anatomy too!
So first up, here’s days 8-14, featuring dogs, hares, hedgehogs, monkeys, hummingbirds, lizards and badgers!
If you’d like to see the drawings from this challenge, and the most recent stuff from my sketchbook, you can check out my instagram page here: Rowena James Illustration
Well, I’m still going! Although I’m having far more fun doing it than I’m sure I should be (The first 3 days I managed each set of drawings in about an hour, the last few days…well, let’s just say they took a little longer…) I’m really enjoying experimenting with different media and I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about which medium to pare up with each animal (so far I’ve found fluffy animals much easier in pencil, and animals with more form/interesting shapes more suited to pen or ink), but then maybe mixing up some unexpected animal/media combinations could be my next challenge!
Okay, well so far so good! This is actually proving a lot easier to sit down and do than I thought it might be (which I guess is a good thing). It’s actually been really nice to just draw for fun/without any specific purpose. So here you are: squirrels, polar bears and deer!
So once again I seem to have found myself in that end of project blues. You know, that feeling when you’ve been working on a project for so long, any spare moment you have, you’re working on it, and then even when you’re not working on it, you’re thinking about it. Literally, all the time. And then suddenly, you’re almost done, and your brain’s like ‘whoa, hang on a second, what the heck am I meant to do now? I’m staring into this black hole of nothingness, come on, you’ve got to give me something!‘ Anyone else get that? Or at least know what I’m going on about? It’s annoying right?
I have to say this isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened pretty much every project since university. Except at uni there was always another project round the corner to get me going again. But now it’s all just me.
Buuuuut, I have a cunning plan to try and kickstart my brain before it falls too far into the black hole of nothingness. I tried and failed with Inktober again this year (I’m going for next year as 3rd time lucky), so to make up for that, I’m going to give myself a new challenge. It suddenly hit me as I was flipping through some old sketchbooks earlier, searching for inspiration. And I came across this:
I did this sketch over 3 years ago when I was trying to fill up a sketchbook to take to my interview for my art foundation course. Along with this sketch were a load of other animal drawings, and I suddenly realised something- whenever I’ve had a motivational slump, and for whatever reason can’t figure out what to do next, animals always seem to get me drawing again.
So, for my new challenge, I’m going to try and draw a different animal for the next 30 days (I already have a mental list of some of the animals I want to try and draw, but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know!) I also want to try not to use the same media for 2 days running. Basically I want to experiment, but I also want to get my productivity going again. They don’t have to be big or complex pieces (actually I really seem to struggle with just staying simple, so the simpler the better), but mostly I just need something to make me sit down and draw (it’s weird, you wouldn’t think it would be so hard to do something you love!) But I’m hoping this will be the kick I need. And hey, it might even be a useful starting point for some character development and a new project!
As a starting point I’ve got these sketches below, which I did when we visited an animal park over the summer. It was so refreshing to draw from life because I didn’t have any other option but to draw quickly (hence I stuck with the rhinos for quite a while!) and everything felt a lot more natural (I always fall victim to over-working my drawings, trying to make them ‘perfect’ and often lose some of the original character and energy of the drawings) so I guess the images I’ve got here is kind of what I’m going to be aiming for with my sketches over the next 30 days. Although, if I feel the urge to develop an image into something a bit more finished, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say no…
(Okay, so this last one was drawn from one of the photos when I got home, but doing some preliminary sketches from life first really helped).
Right, let’s do this!
So over the past 3 months or so I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of sketching every day (which technically I have been doing, as part of my continuing effort to turn my illustrations into something I could actually call a ‘job’), but it turns out going away sends my brain into a ‘yes-I-can-draw-for-fun-for-no-particular-reason’ kind of overdrive. (Which is how I ended up filling up a whole sketchbook over the course of a 2 week holiday in france in the summer- a level of drawing productivity I’ve never quite achieved before.)
So it was that when I went into the art shop just before we came away this week I bought myself a new travel sketchbook (more in hope than expectation) but 2 days in and it already seems to be working. Well, it could be the sketchbook, (an A6 thing of beauty with open flat pages, a super soft black velour cover, elastic to keep it closed, little pockets and a place for a pen…ok, ok, I admit, I have a thing for new sketchbooks, but come on, I can’t be the only one, right?!)
Sorry, back to the point- my sudden sketching addiction could be down to wanting to use the sketchbook, or it could have something to do with the super inspiring landscapes, architecture and pretty much everything that makes up the Lake District.
Either way (and this really was the point of the post, honest!) over the course of the next week I’m hoping to make the most of my drawing bug and gather as many sketches as I can (and unlike the last sketchbook, I’ll try to post as much as I can on here).
Finally, having completely missed Inktober last year, and coming to the party a bit late this year I’m going to try and get in as many ink sketches as I can. So, here you go, these are the first 6 scribbly sketches from my first 2 days up here (5 ink and 1 sneaky pencil sketch):
So I posted a working version of this image a couple of weeks ago:
but I was really struggling to figure out how to finish it off. But after working on a couple of other landscapes I started to get a few more ideas, so I came back to this and re-worked it slightly and came up with this:
I’m still not entirely sure if it’s worked- I have a feeling the lighting might be slightly out, but I at least feel like I’ve done all I can with it for the moment and can finally leave it and move onto something else. That said I want to learn as much as I can from it to apply to future works, so if anyone’s got any thoughts I’d be keen to hear them!
So it looks like I’ve finally caught some kind of ‘super-productive-producing-art’ kind of bug. Now I know it’s quality over quantity, but for the last year or so I’ve really struggled to create something without over thinking it and spending weeks working on it. Again, I know this can be useful, but working in that way I didn’t feel like I was progressing and learning new skills as quickly as I would like.
So last weekend I had a look through some of my old photos (well, old as in maybe 3 years old?!) and it suddenly hit me; I’ve been desperately trying to create scenes based on my imagination and I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Because I was lacking the initial inspiration that has always kickstarted my art. And looking back at some of the original scenes that made me pick up my camera and shoot, I found that inspiration coming back, with the added bonus of a ready made scene (with composition and lighting decisions already made), which meant that all I had to focus on, was painting.
Anyway, enough waffle, here’s what I managed to come up with:
Study of Glen Etive, Scotland.