I've been working on a wrap-up post of sorts for my 365 project, but there is so much to say that I'm not sure how to fit it into one post. Haha. I decided for now to share a few of my favorite spreads from the project after re-photographing the entire book a couple of weeks ago (you can now find the entire project here).
I just passed the 2/3 mark a few days ago. Feeling really capable and really clear lately. Capable in the sense that I believe I can reach my goals and I know I can stick with something on this level. I am enjoying the rhythm of slowing chipping away at something. Slowly building. I feel patient and assured. I have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be, and I am ok with that. I will do the work, and I will get there.
There is so much I want to say about this sketchbook project, and I really don't know how to go about scratching the surface of that. Through this entire project I've found it difficult to express the impact it has had because it's been so profound. I'm not sure I can come anywhere close to conveying it, but I'd still like to share what I can.
A few months ago I was having a hard time with the project. My friends kept me going. Having a sketchbook specifically made for this project kept me going (having it partially filled would have taunted me forever!). I was questioning whether or not sketching every day was actually helpful, even though I have always heard that it is, because on so many days I was creating something I didn't like or feel connected to. It made me wonder what the point of those days was. Why not just skip them and get to the good stuff?
I finally believe in working daily. It's bringing about clarity, and it's showing me how and what to practice. Previously I'd have an idea and just get stuck because there was this huge, dense forest between myself and the end product. Sketching everyday has been like taking a machete into the thick instead of just sitting on the other side feeling either discouraged or wondering how I might be able to get through. A path is emerging.
Lately I'm really into practicing with acrylic (as seen above). I love that it's such a quick and versatile medium to work with, and I LOVE working with it on paper. I'm considering setting a parameter to use acrylic only for next year's project, but I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I have 112 days to go for this year, so it's not like I'm really close to done yet, but I am happy to say that I have still not missed a day! You can see all of my sketches so far here.
I just finished day 207 of my 365 sketchbook project, and it's fun to see themes emerging as the project progresses. Lately I've been feeling really drawn to detailed faces with bold & simplistic hair. It's a sensible progression for me from my trend of creating completely bald ladies to ladies with just simple hair. I love the pop of color and interest it adds, or the sketchy look of leaving the hair as a bold, black outline with no filling. I've also noticed that I am completely enamored with circles, which I didn't even intend to show with these particular images, but you can see it nonetheless.
I can see this bold-haired ladies theme morphing into a series of larger completed paintings or mixed media pieces at some point. For now I'll let it simmer and develop.
If you aren't following along with my project already, I'm posting it regularly on Instagram! I've recently moved to posting the full spread every other day versus everyday, and I post many other creative things I'm working on in between. Let's be pals!
I have successfully completed half of the 365 project without missing a single day. Yeah!!! You can see the entire project so far here.
I started this project with the simple inspiration to create a good habit in sketching everyday, to practice without worrying about selling stuff, and to gain fans and momentum for my 2D work. Plus, I missed drawing 'for fun'.
As part of the highs, those things have happened. What's also happened is a ton of development in peripheral areas, some of which I didn't even consider when I decided to embark on this project.
For one, I have realized, really realized, where my skill level is and what I need to work on. That's huge, and I'm learning more about what I need to work on every day. There's really no way to know that unless you create consistently. You might go around saying to yourself, "I could make that" but unless you're actually doing it, you don't really know. It turns out things are more complicated than they seem like they'd be. (They always are.)
On that note, my appreciation for different styles and types of art that I come across has increased as I've gone through this project, too. Experts make things look simple.
Getting real about where I am has never made me feel down during the process, but it has definitely humbled me. I'm more humble, and I feel more confident at the same time. I am motivated to continue on a regular basis, because I know that practice will get me there. Things are going to take time, and I'm more ok with that than I ever have been. Patience +50.
Even though it doesn't really feel like I've been working on my discipline, I guess this project is kind of a test of discipline and I can feel its affect on developing new daily habits in other areas of my life, too. Exercise routines, especially. It goes hand-in-hand with patience. I used to give up so readily at a lack of immediate progress.
I'm of course learning a lot about art, too. I am growing in my work - learning the best application for different mediums, getting better at portraits, discovering the work and type of processes that really excite me. Just because you can do something doesn't mean it's necessarily your jam. I'm excited to look back through at the end of the project and see progress, and remember what the learning curve felt like along the way.
It hasn't been all high, though, for sure. The low? Being in a lull (which happens naturally, regardless of sketching everyday or not) and working through it. I've never worked straight through a lull before in this way, and at times it had me completely questioning myself. On a few occasions I really wanted to quit. The hardest part was feeling uninspired and trying to make something anyway, and that something just coming out horribly because there was no passion behind it.
Is there really benefit to putting something down on paper everyday just to do it? Why not just create when you're feeling it? These are things I wondered/still wonder a little bit. I've seen some benefit, for instance it's really cool to have this visual documentation of the entire process through both good and bad times. Plus, as some of my friends have said, maybe something from those weird times will inspire a new idea, or I'll come back and pull from it for future work that I am feeling passionate about.
Thank goodness for friends talking me into sticking with the project when I felt like quitting, by the way!
Happily the lull ended a couple of weeks ago after a few months of dragging on. Honestly though, looking back, there are some cool things that happened during it. I can't imagine NOT keeping a daily sketchbook now. Creating daily in this way will likely shed solid light on the lulls over time - when they happen and why - and better intel will arm me with more tools to work through them more effectively. Even if that means dialing back or just hunkering down.
If you're feeling inspired to start a daily project, you should totally do it. I highly recommend it. If you decide to share it publicly, let me know - I'd love to follow along! I appreciate that you all are following along with mine... 6 more months to go! If you've just jumped on board, I'm posting the project over on Instagram! See you there. :)
Dialing back this month has been awesome. It's not like I'm doing nothing, but I was doing so much before that it almost feels like I'm doing nothing.
Felt like sharing some of what I've been working on. The piece above is one that I started at the beginning of this month. I always have so much energy going into a new piece and can work on it for hours on end, but then it hits a point where details really start to come about and fatigue hits much quicker. It begins to take a lot more energy and focus to achieve what feels like much smaller steps. Maybe if I could knock it out all in one session I'd be golden!? That seems like wishful thinking. :) The same thing happens when I'm creating my more detailed small sculptures, too.
I'm happy with my progress, though. Sometimes people ask me how I come up with these random mixes of subjects. It really is random, I think. I don't sit down like, "Ok, I'm going to paint a lady in a crazy pose with a happy ram chillin' on an ice cream sandwich on some cacti with some bright balloons thrown in there to make it a party." It just happens that way. And I ain't mad at it. Deeper meaning can be extracted, but I guess it doesn't have to be. It can just exist as a combination of things that didn't before. Things that don't necessarily belong together or couldn't happen that way in real life.
I started the piece on the left years ago and just decided to pick up again to see how my daily work on 2D art this year would affect it. Click here to see where I'd left off back in 2013. I've changed up the shading and coloring on the face a little bit, and obviously added a black dripping collar of sorts to the neck. I can't wait to go in and make the bugs pop - I think that's going to be quite the challenge. I would love for them to look very realistic, but we'll see what I can achieve. There are some really disturbing layers underneath this current face - it has gone through some scary changes as I've built up the paint. Not on purpose. Perhaps she is a keeper of darkness, the one who digests the ugly so we can move on from it. *hands moving apart for magic*
365 is still happening. I'll be honest, I totally felt like quitting a few times. I have never worked straight through a lull like this before, and as much as lulls suck anyway, it almost sucks worse to force yourself to make work while you're feeling uninspired and be unhappy with what you've created day after day. Luckily I have had a lot of encouragement from my family and friends to continue the project and not give up, so I have not missed a day yet! I do feel really proud of that. I've so needed the support and really appreciate and feel grateful to have it. I've also seen glimmers of hope here and there that the lull will be ending soon, so hopefully that's the case. I KNOW they come and go, so it's got to end sometime.
Above is my most recent sketchbook spread - a portrait that in some ways reminds me of my mom, and a little cactus postcard I made that I decided to sew into my sketchbook instead of mailing out. I just love how these two work together. The colors, the shapes. Sorry friend who didn't get this postcard, don't worry, I have plenty of others to send out. Long live snail mail!
If you read this, thank you. If you follow my work, thank you. If you send me comments or emails, thank you! Really. If there's someone in your life who inspires you or whose work you love to see pop up in your feed everyday, or someone who brings you lunch or greets you with a smile every morning, take a moment to say thank you and let them know that you dig what they're doing. It's such a small thing that means so much. We all love to know that we are appreciated.
I feel like I've been a bit absent in my art world lately, but that may be because I've been ramping up my bnnk work for the past couple of weeks, and preparing for le animalé birthday festivities which are now underway! Wooo.
After finishing the 10 Lost Girls in my 365 sketchbook, I accidentally started a series of Lost Boys. Why not? I'm glad they showed face, and I love how different they are from the girls.
For all of these guys I used a blanket of acrylic paynes gray + titanium white acrylic accents, then went over with a white gelly pen for lines and details, and finished up with a white charcoal pencil for some shading. It was fun being whimsical and quirky with these guys, and 10 is the perfect number for me to feel satisfied and ready for something new. Since Lost Boy Walter yesterday told me to start next with a painting of a hummingbird, that's what I'll be working on today. Join me on Instagram to follow along with where my project is going daily! I just passed the 1/3 mark!
Last Monday I shared the first half of my Lost Girls subseries in my 365 sketchbook, and over the following few days I finished the set with girls 6-10.
I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in my sketchbook in the past few days. I still feel awkward about limiting myself (100 days of paynes gray), but at the same time I enjoy the challenge to keep it fresh and interesting. There are so many things one can do with the theme of a color. Just have to think outside the box.
When I finished the girls my idea was to paint a solid block of paynes gray with acrylic and then use whites of sorts to create something on top of it. Unintentionally, a lost boy emerged, so I've decided to spend the next 10 days creating Lost Boys to go with the Lost Girls. I like that they are almost inverted, and that the guys actually have some semblance of hair, whereas the girls are all bald.
I have to admit, The Lost Boys are flowing a bit easier than the girls were. I'm glad for something to be more free-flowing again. It will be interesting at the end of the year to see the ebb and flow of energy and inspiration throughout the project.
Two weeks ago I started The 100 Day Project as part of my 365. I finally decided on 100 days of paynes gray because I like the idea of becoming very familiar with specific colors. It's so opposite of my normal approach - like much of this project has been so far. I'm going to do different sections of combinations or techniques, and right now I'm in the middle of working on a subsection of paynes gray + permanent rose in a set of 10 portraits called "The Lost Girls".
These portraits are experiments in different angles and lighting of the face. I planned to do them all from my imagination, but I decided to use a reference on one of them to see how it would compare to the others. I wonder if you can guess which one?
These ladies are the first half of the set - numbers 6-10 will happen this week! Follow along on Instagram to see them come to life.
Another objective with these Lost Girls is to find my sense of random, limitless imagination again. As I mentioned in previous posts, it used to flow so freely and now feels like it's lodged behind screens and rocks. I'm attempting to just let it flow with these - whatever comes up, comes up without question. Sometimes nothing comes up and I don't even think about it until I've finished the sketch for the day, and other times it's a little more like what I remembered in the backstories and misc. added elements.
I am having a lot of fun with this subsection of The Lost Girls, but it has another subject on my mind lately. It is a little disheartening to know there are certain things I can go off and draw that will garner a lot of praise and attention regardless of how much heart I put in, but then things with more heart and imagination sometimes are passed by so easily. I think this is a struggle many creative folks face. Why is it that we just want to see what's popular all the time? And not something different? Perhaps the something different has to be done so well that it can divert attention from the things that are easier to like and digest. Perhaps it has a lot to do with finding the right audience. I have found, though, that regardless of the outside attention something I create receives, I always feel best about the things that I really enjoyed creating and can feel proud of my efforts on.
I've been wanting to write this post but haven't had a good moment to sit down and really think about it. However, the 3 month mark is slowly getting away from me so time must be made! These thoughts may or may not be totally coherent, but here are some reflections from my 365 project at this point.
I've never gotten this far into a 365 project before so I'm feeling proud of that feat. At the same time, it hasn't felt like a chore this time around. I enjoy it. Some days I don't have a lot of time but I still want to make something. That said, there have definitely been awkward bouts where I don't know what to make or just feel kind of lost. Part of that may be that I'm bouncing from subject to subject and part if it may be that I'm just busy in general so it's hard to sit down and feign the necessary mental energy to be creative. Above and below are some examples of days when I just didn't know what I wanted to create, so I either did a random noun generator online, asked for suggestions, or just sat down and started making marks to see what it would develop into.
I've been feeling like within the past several years my creativity has dropped, but I think it's just being manifested in a different way. Still, I would like to work myself back to the point of having a totally free flowing imagination. It used to feel so limitless and now it feels like I have to reach for it. That's something I'm hoping this project will help with, but as I mentioned above, I think being so busy makes it harder so I need to tackle it from that front too.
This week started The 100 Day Project, which seems to really have taken off this year, and I'm glad to have come across it. When I first searched the hashtag a week or so ago there were about 7,000 posts and now there are over 20,000. I love these kinds of instagram community projects because it's easy to find other artists and it's fun to support one another through the process. As for theme, I'm still not 100% sure if I'll stick with ONE theme through the 100 days (aside from the theme that everything is being made in my sketchbook). So far I've been practicing life drawing in payne's gray watercolor since my sister is here (easy access to a model). Life drawing is something I'm not well versed in at all, but I think it's really fun and I'd like to do it more. My other consideration was to do 100 days of silly animal illustrations, which was actually my previous attempt at a 365 project. I wish it felt easier to commit to one idea for 100 days, I mean... it's just 100 days.
For the past few weeks I've been having a strong push and pull in my mind on several fronts and just recently had a small epiphany that I need to return to the idea that not everything is black and white. Things can (must, do, will) exist along side one another. There is so much pressure to choose and label and be clear on everything, but the reality is that that's not the way it usually works. I find it so hard to accept the discomfort of being unsure and feeling in limbo, but I do have faith that flexibility and forward movement will bring back some clarity. So, previous 365 projects have been hard from a habit-of-doing-it standpoint, and this one has been more of a mental challenge so far, but both of those things are are important to conquer. Even though it hasn't been rainbows and pancakes 100% of the time, I've never felt like I wanted to quit or shy away from it. It kind of feels like a riddle that you just can't walk away from. I want to keep going. I want to figure it out. I feel like I'm about to level up in a big way and there will be many small steps to get there, but once I do a whole new plane will open up and it's going to feel so exciting.
So, I've been working on my 365 project for 74 days now (and haven't missed a day so yay for that!). I've also had slews of other creative projects in, around, through, and in between those days, and I'm recently feeling like I'm having an awkward artistic growth spurt.
I'm open to exploring right now, but as a result I'm feeling less in control of my process. For me, that's very uneasy and unsettling, but it's something I'm trying to become acquainted with accept for what it is. At the same time, I'm finding it hard to let go completely and take big risks, which I feel is where real growth and discovery lies. Is it enough to take a series of small risks? To just practice everyday? Maybe. I am certainly making progress as it is - I feel myself learning and know that I am finding new techniques - but I'm also wanting to push myself to be more bold in my experimenting. I just don't want to inhibit my own growth as an artist by being shy to completely mess something up. SO WHAT if I completely mess something up, especially in my sketchbook.
On that note, it's been sometimes-difficult-but-mostly-liberating-and-fun to share my sketches every single day on Instagram. As much as I may not want to admit it "as an artist", I do care about people liking my work - at least to an extent. That makes it a little harder to post things I'm not completely in love with, but I've kept up with it and haven't hidden anything that I felt was less-than-awesome. Happily, I've gotten a lot of great feedback from folks and SO appreciate all of the support. However, this breaking down of my outer wall in that way is new for me too, so it's another aspect of my awkward growth phase right now. I'm just trying to become comfortable with a lot of different and new things all at once.
I just felt like sharing this - I'd love to write about the process of my 365 sketchbook here from time to time as it progresses. I've been keeping loose tabs on it in my own personal journal, but I've always appreciated hearing these sorts of insights from other artists so I'm putting them out there in the hopes that they have some sort of nice impact on other folks working along on their own journeys. If there's anything you guys would like to hear about specifically, I'd love to know!
Happy Monday. :)
A couple of days ago I happened upon a new park while I was out riding around and decided to sit there in the shade of a large tree for my sketch of the day. After a while it felt a little (dare I say) chilly in the shade, so I shifted my work space to a lovely sunny patch, and when I looked down I saw the sun illuminating my previous day's drawing behind the drawing I was working on at the time. Doesn't it look cool? It would be kind of fun to try and paint that type of layering. These are sketches 61 & 62 from my 365 project.