I Failed Sketchbook Summer

I failed #SketchbookSummer.

I started the month ready and prepared. In a feat of Einsteinian mathematics, I counted the number of pages in my sketchbook (110), divided those up by the number of days in July (31) and came to the grand conclusion that I would need to complete 3.5 double spreads every day in order to fill my sketchbook by the end of the month. That didn’t seem so bad.

Week one, my momentum was really strong. Believe it or not, I even went over my weekly quota and drew more pages than I should have! I was feeling great.

Then what happened? I got into my head. I made excuses. I was “too tired” to draw. I let days go by without drawing anything at all. I told myself that I would catch up on the weekend, when I would magically be in the mood to draw. As anyone knows, that magical day when you wake up and have suddenly become a perfect version of yourself, full of motivation and discipline with magically acquired level of talent to match, never actually comes… and so the weekend would come and go and I’d be just as behind as ever.

That being said, today is July 31st (Happy Birthday Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling) and I have filled the large majority of a sketchbook! I am quite proud of that. My goal for #sketchbookSummer was not simply to put marks on paper, but instead to create a habit where I spent time every day with my sketchbook, and I did! I was writing, drawing, and experimenting within those 110 pages… I tried to stop treating the paper as a special object that should be saved for masterpieces. Instead, I viewed my sketchbook as a private playground uniquely designed for me, and it felt great! It is a practice I fully intend to keep up. Besides, masterpieces only emerge from sloppy, messy, ugly idea play, so go ahead “waste” a page in your sketchbook, see how it feels! After some time, chances are, it won’t feel like it was a wasted page after all because it, in some indefinable way, helped you get to where you are now. 

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Here are some of my favourite recent pages from my sketchbook:

Weekly Update: July 2nd-9th

This was week one of Sketchbook Summer. People seem to have a prompts list for this challenge, but I can’t find it! If you know where it is, please send me a link! Regardless, I am having a lot of fun drawing this week. Some days it has been a challenge to fill the 3.5 pages, but other days I get on a roll and more than make up for it. I did the math, and so long as I complete 24 spreads per week, I will be golden. The thing I find myself noticing the most is the fact that I have to wait for my paint to dry… and even though I’m still in the art-making-mood, I can’t flip to the next page because I need to wait for my paint to dry! Ah, first-world-artist problems, eh? 

 

This has been a busy week, mainly because of teaching. Highlights include: Going a packed aquarium with a group of 50 students while everyone else had the holiday Monday off; taking the same enormous group to the Toronto Zoo and slowly inching our way through “Africa,” baking under the hot sun; and finally, going shopping with 50 teenagers. The life of a teacher is extremely glamorous, no?

Back in April I had signed up for an online course, which now, I am kinda regretting. This course will qualify me to teach Gr. 11 and 12 English, which is good because it will open the door to me getting a job in a high school, but it adds more onto my daily work load than I would like. If anything, I am taking the fact that doing the course work feels like drudgery to be an indicator that  pursuing something more creative is the correct path for me. I am still on the Artists Way, week 8 just finished… and I am more and more confident in my ability to forge a creative life for myself. This online class has also taught me how bad I am at reading online. Does anyone else get that? What I don’t understand is how is it possible that I spent hours and hours of my life reading fan fiction from the ages of 12 to 20, yet give me a work of non fiction, an assignment, a message, and stick it on a screen and POOF, my eyes glide over it and it means nothing. This is why I flip flop about digital books; they’re just harder to read somehow.

This week, I wanted to talk about SemiSkimmedMin. At first, when I saw her videos, I was annoyed by their beauty and her phenomenal art ability. Yes, I was jealous. She was doing everything I wanted to do… and she had a cool British accent to boot! Not fair! Something drew me back to her channel this week, and after I had blinked a few times to clear the jealousy from my eyes, I discovered what a true wealth of knowledge her channel was! I learned so much from her 30 ways to fill a sketchbook videos —and I haven’t even watched them all!

She recommended a great channel for life drawing videos, and had the great idea of going to google street view and drawing landscapes. Duh! How simple, FREE and amazing is that! I’ve been putting off going to life drawing classes for months now, blaming the cost of a class, fitting the class into my schedule, and the fact that all of the classes are just a little bit farther from home than I’d like them to be… and now I don’t have any excuses! I can do them from home on my computer and keep being the homebody I so desperately want to be! I can definitely see doing google street view drawings when it is way too cold to go outside. Shout out to you, Canadian winter! I highly recommend going to check out her channel. I guarantee you will be inspired!

What have I been reading? (in five-ish words or less)

  1. Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks
    “Funny people being inspiring. Sth-aaap!”

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves comedy, television or movies, or is thinking about living a creative life, or entering “show business”

  2. How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up – by Emilie Wapnick
    “Multipotentialite: Hear me roar!”

  3. Draw from your head: A step by step system for drawing the human figure without a model – Doug Jamieson
    “Yass, teach me how bodies work!”

What have I been watching? (In five-ish words or less)

  1. SemiSkimmedMin
    “Let me be you, please!”

  2. Labyrinth
    “I think I need to have watched this as a kid for it to have been good. Bowie’s sexy as hell, though.*”

*Please don’t hate me for not liking this movie. It was just a little too lame for my mindset at the time, maybe? I would love to read some good Labyrinth fanfiction, though… this movie seems ripe for some good stuff! 

WEEKLY UPDATE: Daily Drawing round up, Graduation, aka “How does the start of summer = The end of summer?”

Another week of drawings completed in 30 minutes or less! A colourful mix this week!

Day 17: I saw the most adorable bunnies today with very unique markings. It looks like they had eyeliner on, which of course, led to me putting two and two together, et voilà! Punk bunnies! You’re welcome 🙂
Day 17: Bus and Train edition. I will tell you this: drawing with sharpie on a bus is a very nerve-racking artistic experience!
The punk bunnies IRL
Day 19: The old orange beater. The unexpected sequel to that old farm house drawing.
Day 20: Serving up futuristic realness.
Day 21: I must remember to iron my dress for tomorrow. I must remember to iron my dress for tomorrow. I must remember.
Day 22: I graduated from my Masters program today, and as the weight of this milestone settles on me like delicately falling snow, I bring you this picture. Have a great night!🌙
Day 23: No Exit. Not to be confused with the Sartre play of the same name.

How was your week, dear reader? My week felt very busy, and also, unfortunately, not very productive. It was a very scattershot week.

LB and I both graduated from University this week. As a result, I ask to be addressed as Master Taylor from now on. I’ve got the piece of paper to prove it now, so why not? I hope “master” is included in the drop down menu of prefixes I can select from on online forms! LB made the Dean’s list, which means he was in the top 20th percentile, with an average of over 3.5! Talk about high distinction! I am so proud of that smartypants!

What else did I get up to… oh right, my online course finished this week! It was very strange to have to work on a seven page paper, do readings and post a response on the same day I was graduating.

This break brought the first day of summer, and my summer, ironically enough, is just coming to an end. I start teaching ESL at a summer camp on Monday, so bye bye free time, sleeping in on weekdays, staying at home doing art all day… It was nice while it lasted. I am excited about camp though. My co-workers seem great, and the camp has a very relaxed atmosphere. Little nervous about teaching grammar, but if I stay one day ahead of the kids I should be fine, right?

What am I watching? (in five words or less)

  1. Forks Over Knives
    “Plants heal, animal products kill”
  2. What the Health?
    “Diet will save your life”
  3. RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 3 – (rewatching for the umpteenth time)
    “Such a strong, talented season!”


What am I reading? (in five words or less)

  1. Shades of A, a webcomic by T A Kimpton
    “Asexual love can be complicated” (slightly NSFW)
  2. Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton
    “Horrible book layout, helpful tips”

I think the fact that my reading list has shrunken considerably tells you quite a lot about the state of my week! Now I’m off to watch the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 9 so that I can go back to using the internet without fear of being spoiled.

Have a great week, everyone!

Daily Drawing Weekly Review & Weekly Update: June 2nd to June 9th

This week I challenged myself to complete my daily drawings in 30 minutes. Within that 30 minutes I had to come up with the idea, sketch it and colour it. Once the time ran out, down went my tablet pen and my mouse clicked “publish.” As a result, the images aren’t as polished as others may be, and there was little time to refer to reference pictures, but I’m okay with that. This is an exercise in creativity, pure and simple! An exercise that I think is pretty cool. I highly recommend it – you’ll be surprised what your brain can come up with.

If you’d like to follow my drawings and get updates daily, in real time, please follow me on instagram: @leslietaylordesign.

June 2nd: Treasured chalice. Inspired by my love of water and small fear of a dystopian, waterless future..?
June 3rd: If you want to know how I spent the day, this is exactly how, down to the resulting sunburn and everything. It was a lovely day!
June 4th: Yesterdays sunburn’s got me feeling like a scaley lizard, so here’s a scaley lizard.
June 5th: Sleepy clouds. A nice busy day, but was looking forward to a quiet evening.
June 6th: Misery loves company, but I don’t like being in misery’s company. This little phrase came to mind this morning. Doubtful I am the first to coin it, but it would be nice if I was. Hello royalties?
June 7th: Acrylic paint, it has been too long!
June 8th: Seaworthy Sailor
June 9th: The cool kidz. Loosely inspired by the amazing style and abundant positivity of Kandee Johnson.

 

How was your week? What did you get up to?

This week was week 5 in the Artists Way for my creative partner LB and I. While not as difficult as week 4’s week of media deprivation (I’ll write a post on that soon! It was quite the thing to experience), this week brought about a new sense of clarity. Having gone a week without TV, reading, music, social media, etc, I was hesitant to return to my previous ways of spending (read: wasting) time. I definitely watched less youtube and spent less time on tumblr this week, which was great.

I joined the Toronto Urban Sketcher’s group and went to two sessions. The first was at Ryerson University and I spent two and a half hours sketching Young St. It was definitely an exercise in patience, let me tell you! But I am very proud of the sketch I produced and am trying to turn it into something more professional – so stay tuned! It was really energizing to meet some great people, some fellow artists in this big city. It was especially nice to meet people who are trying to pursue the life they want, to put making art front and centre. It’s scary to do so, but scarier I think to live a life of regret for not having done so.

Young St. From Ryerson University
Sketch in progress
Condemned apartment building in Forest Hill. Apparently Hemmingway lived here when he was working for the Toronto Star!

LB and I went to Rouge Park and spent the day hiking and enjoying nature: the dark pine needle covered forest floor; the green stained glassed leaf canopy; the cool bubbling brook. Even though it brought sunburns and bug bites, it was lovely… especially when the day finished off with some summery coolers on the balcony! Summer may finally have arrived in Toronto!

What am I watching?

  1. I’m currently working my way through Veep season 3 with LB. Very happy to see strong, smart female characters in a comedy.
  2. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 is unfortunately coming to a close. I will miss it so much when it’s done. I’ve been #teamSasha since day one! She’s so intelligent, well researched, and talented.
  3. Twin Peaks Season 3: OMG. This is what I live for week to week. I can’t get enough! So weird. So good. So scary. So unlike anything else out there. Bathe me in it!
    What am I reading? (in five words or less) 
  4. The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:
    “Life changing! Ends all suffering” 
  5. QU33R. a collection of LGBTQ comics edited by Rob Kirby
    “Sad. Beautiful. Inspiring. Funny. Life.”
  6. Big Kids by Michael DeForge
    “Amazing! Everyone read this please.”
  7. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
    “Weird little kid. Bad things.”
  8. The Miracle of Mindfulness: an Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
    “Calming. Inspiring. Simple.” 

 

Shout out to MJ, one of the organizers of Toronto Urban Sketchers. Check out her lovely, cloudy artwork at  https://www.instagram.com/mjsketchbook/

Also, if you’d like to read some charming comics and interesting stories, check out LB’s work. He posts new words every weekday, so there is always something to read. He’s quite the wordsmith in my view.  https://loganbrightworks.com/

 

Now, off to watch the latest episode of Drag Race and finally make that pesto pasta I’ve been putting off all week!

Have a great week, dear reader!

MerMay 2017 Complete!

Wow! Has it been a whole month already?

For those of you not following me on instagram, I’ve been participating in “MerMay” – an art challenge where you are asked to draw a picture of a mermaid every day for the month of May. I learned about this challenge too late in the year last year to join. This year, however,  I had it written down on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss it!

Here are all 31 images together. If you’d like to see them in greater detail, pop on over to my instagram (@leslietaylordesign)

What I am proud of:

  • My use of colour. I have discovered not only the opacity tool, but the hardness slider on my photoshop brush, and suddenly the world is my oyster. I also experimented with adding little dots for colour and texture and really like the effect!
  • My line work and image quality Somewhere around day four, May the Fourth (be with you), my line work really improved! I had been challenging myself to work from a reference as little as possible and under no circumstances copy an image in and trace it in photoshop. As a result, I am really blown away by some of the faces and bodies I drew this month.
  • Mer-Basset Hounds, Mer-weimaraners and Pug-topuses! This month was full of cute doggy sea creatures.

My goals for June’s daily drawings

  • Speed! I am going to restrict myself to 30 minutes per drawing. When the time runs up, I post what I have. My drawing teacher at college said that time is the money, meaning you could take 30 minutes to complete a painting, or five hours, but if you’re only getting paid $50 for the piece, you could be earning $100 an hour, or $10, it’s up to you.

 

My daily drawings will continue, though I’m not sure what I should draw for the month of June. Any suggestions?

This post is dedicated to Ravyn, the smiling weimaraner I mermaid-i-fied on May 12th. Unfortunately, she passed away on the 30th due to poor health. She lived 15 wonderful, yet neurotic, years.