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.
Here are some of my favourite recent pages from my sketchbook:
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 thatpursuing 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)
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!
Every Monday I want to share with you an element of my artistic process. This weekly segment, “Make it work!” Mondays, is one half a personal endeavour, a journal of what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been progressing (or a document of regression), and one half an exploration into the artists process. I love learning behind the scenes information about things! I love learning how things were made, how ideas came about, what problems came up and how those problems were overcome. I know I’m not alone with this fascination, so I’d like to share my behind the scenes with you!
I have been developing a character, Leslie Taylor, since January. It’s been a slow, slow, frustratingly slow process. I’ve been stuck seeing visions of the end goal and how great it would be if my ideas came to life without knowing how to get started.
Eventually, like pulling teeth, bits and pieces of my vision has come to life. The fog has cleared abit and now I have a better sense of what I need to do.
Thanks to playing around with pastels, I have a better sense of what she is going to look like. I love hallowe’en and make up and masks and drag so I wanted to create a character that would combine all of those elements. I have always been drawn to Max Headroom, the witty, electronically distorted AI music interviewer and wanted to play around with an idea like that… but for the internet age. I wanted a strange character. Something otherworldly and bizarre, yet still friendly. She would be the drag version of myself: excited, passionate, nerdy, goody-goody, and probably not as funny as she thinks she is.
Wow! Has it already been a week since my last post? I’ve been quite swamped by school work but I am making good progress on my projects. While I do not think I’ll be 100% done weeks in advance with tonnes of free time to play around in, I do think that I can get the bulk of my course load done so that I am free to focus on my practicum. Four weeks of being in the classroom is a lot of work, so I want to be able to give it my all.
The following drawings are from Sept 27 to October 3rd. I’m participating in InkTober for the first time ever, so you’ll notice a change in my drawings done this month. If you’ve never heard of InkTober, it is a month long drawing challenge started by Jake Parker. Back in 2009, Jake challenged himself to draw and ink a picture every day and he shared those drawings with the world through his blog. More info and the official prompts list can be found here. It’s been strange to adjust to following prompts as my inspiration, but I’m liking the challenge thus far. I’ve allowed myself to use references for this month, since I want to create images that respond to the prompts as best as I can. While I am liking the close study of objects through using references, I do kinda miss the freedom of just drawing whatever like I did when I forbid myself from using any reference of any kind at the start of my daily drawing challenge.
I’m currently in my second year of my masters degree, and let’s just say it is not doing very much in the way of satisfying my creative needs. I think I’ve come a long way as an adult to know myself and my needs; now I am able to identify when I’m feeling off and what I can do to fix it. As is usually the case with me, art is the answer! What better way to get a little art into my life than challenging myself to draw something new everyday!
I didn’t want to make a big fuss about starting this project… just in case it didn’t work out so well. I am happy to announce that I am not one…but THIRTEEN days in! That’s almost two weeks of drawing every day! Wow. I’m impressing myself over here.
My goals for this project:
Become a better draw-er.
Develop/reveal/become comfortable with my own style.
Trade in my old clunky imagination for a souped-up Lambergini of an imagination!
Create/Build an online presence as an artist.
My self-imposed rules for this project:
“Draw” something every day for a year. It must be a unique image created for this exercise, not as part of another project.
An image of the drawing must be posted on instagram by 12am each day.
I will admit I had my reservations and fears and doubts before starting this project, and lord knows I am many days away from the end. The fact that I have been able to get over the major humps gives me great hope. The hardest thing I thought would be finding time to do the drawing. Yes, most of my drawings have been done at 10pm while watching TV, but, hey, I got them done! So far, I’ve been blown away by the activity the images have created. Likes and comments from fellow artists online mean a lot to me. My art is reaching people and they’re liking it! Thanks to the momentum from this project, I know I am on the right track.
I think it was in a podcast I listened to recently where I heard someone talk about how you should have started the thing you wanted to do a year ago. That really made me think. What do I want to say that I started and accomplished a year from now? Improving my art is one of those big ones. This blog is another. I’m feeling good about this new school year… though not for traditional scholarly reasons. (Sorry Uni!)
I want to give my drawings themes month to month. September’s theme is “No references”. I’m really good at copying an image, but I don’t want to copy other people’s work. I want to create my own images that uniquely reflect my take on something. Plus, it will really force me to think.
Here are my drawings thus far. Thirteen down, Three-hundred-and-fifty-two more to go!
If you want to see how my challenge is going in real time, I post new art every day on my instagram (@leslietaylordesign). If you’ve been waiting for a sign to start doing this challenge yourself, consider this it! It really isn’t that hard to fit it into your day. I’m surprised at how quickly it became a really fun habit!