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
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 thought I’d have a go at a bit of speed painting (something entirely new for me), as mountains are something I’ve really struggled with painting digitally.
I know there’s still a lot I have to improve on (particularly lighting and atmospheric perspective/depth) but I’m surprisingly happy with how the detailing turned out on the left side rocks and I feel like I’ve picked up a lot already (most of it completely unintentionally) so I guess I’ve just gotta keep going!
Over the last few months I’ve been working at improving my digital painting skills, and quite often I would find myself thinking ‘how would I do this if I were using traditional media?’ And particularly when Photoshop was on the go-slow I would think ‘Could I just do this quicker by hand?’ But at the weekend I went for a walk on the beach, and the sky was so dramatic, the lighting was just awesome, and I just got that ‘I have to draw this’ kind of feeling.
So, when I got back, armed with a good number of reference photos I sat down and started to thumbnail a few different compositions, and then having seen one photo that caught my eye I just got out my water soluble pencils and started to draw. And as I drew I felt so much more connected to what I was doing, watching the image evolve in front of me (without constantly zooming in and out and waiting while the brush strokes on the screen catch up with the pen in my hand). I found that I’d really missed it. But the interesting thing is, I also found myself thinking ‘how would I do this on photoshop?’ ‘What kind of rendering style would I go for here?’ It’s like switching between digital and traditional really made me think about the basics all over again. Having not completed a piece traditionally for probably over a month it was like starting all over again. Now I know these aren’t the greatest sketches I’ll ever do, but the best thing is, despite the differences between digital and traditional, swapping between the two has really made me think about what it is I’m creating, and between them, they’ve helped push and improve my drawing skills as a whole.
Watersoluble pencil and inktense blocks & pencils
Right, so my mission for this week was to start my Rusty project, and, I’ve surprised myself again- I’ve actually done what I was intending! By the way in case you were wondering, Rusty is my dog (see above), I haven’t quite branched off into metal work yet…although, I’m sure it could be quite fun to draw…
Anyway, I started trying to sketch him from life, which was a mission in itself- he doesn’t stay still. I managed to get a few sweeping lines which just about suggest the form of a dog…if you piece them altogether. But I’m sure this collection of disembodied body parts will come in very handy at some point.
So in order to get a few more drawings that resembled something more like I was intending I took a load of quick photos on my phone while playing fetch with his ball (which required a heck of a lot of concentration and co-ordination to make sure I chucked the right thing…)
Having successfully managed that I gave myself the target of filling a double-page spread in my A3 sketchbook of quick sketches, using at least 3 different media. And I have to say, I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome (also see above).
My aim with these was not to get caught up too much in the details but rather try and capture the form and sense of movement that was there while we were playing. I particularly liked the freedom of the brush and ink, and surprised myself with the charcoal pencil, as this isn’t something I’ve really used that much-it was just something I found lying at the bottom of my pencil case.
So, for next week, I need to do more sketches (both from life and photos) to try and build up a strong reference base showing a range of different angles and movements, which should prove very useful as a starting point for a character design, which is the other thing I want to start doodling around this week. Although the coming drawings might start to be more detailed and more anatomically correct than the drawings this week I don’t want to lose the freedom and movement that these have. So that is my challenge!