3/22: Day 1
The first day of any new habit is exciting, I was glad to have all my supplies and paper ready to go right off the bat today. But as soon as I sat down to get started all of these feelings and thoughts started popping up for me. I suddenly felt so much pressure for this drawing to be awesome. So much stress about what to draw. Thinking way into the future about how I’ll look back at this first drawing and what will I think then?
All of this grandiose thinking stalled me for awhile. I had high anxiety going into this tiny little drawing, giving it more power than I needed to.
I took a little breather and reminded myself why I’m doing this, it’s not to make the best drawings everyday, it’s not to add stress to my life. It’s to start a drawing practice, that I do every day. That’s all that matters.
I decided to draw a fox, something that I’m pretty familiar with. Even so, I erased more than I kept. I was frustratred with this tiny drawing every step of the way. I added some gray and black ink to give it some depth, all the while thinking it would get better, and you know what? It didn’t.
I don’t like the drawing. I’m not at all happy with it. But I’m keeping it, and I’m sharing it, and I’m talking about it.
Why? Because when you make art, it’s literally impossible for you to always like and be proud of what you created. But remember, that’s just a little piece of paper that you put some marks on. That’s not you.
I can not like the drawing and still like myself. I can not be proud of the piece itself but still be proud of me for doing it. For taking this first step.
3/23: Day 2
Today I whipped out the watercolors for the first time in forever. The really nice thing about using watercolors is that they don’t need a lot of prep or a lot of cleanup. You can whip out a pallet full of paint, grab a brush and cup of water and get to it. I love the immediacy of it.
Painting today was tough. I felt really out of practice. Inspired by the gloomy weather, I decided to do a very simple drill, making tons of raindrops all over the paper with various cool colors. I was pretty astounded at how challenging it was to make a believable raindrop shape over and over. It was simple but not easy, and I’m glad I did it. I think I’m going to continue doing these types of drills with drawing and painting to practice certain shapes over and over. Training my hand to make what my mind sees.
While I had the watercolors out I prepped for tomorrow too, Making a super simple bird shape that I’ll add some ink to tomorrow morning.
3/24: Day 3
When I looked at the bird again this morning I really didn’t like it. Didn’t want to finish it, wanted to throw it out and start again. But finish it I did. I tried to use the excuse that I couldn’t find my ink to not do today’s daily draw, but I got over that pretty quickly. I finished the bird. I still don’t love it, but I added a confused little worm to the drawing and I do like the dynamic between them. I also started on tomorrow’s draw by inking a quick little pine tree that I’ll add watercolor to tomorrow.
3/25: Day 4
In art school I was chastized by teachers a lot for not being dramatic enough with my work. For not making big enough statements, for being too safe with my shading, for not being bold.
I’ve carried that with me constantly since I left school 12 years ago. It has become part of my inner art critic, always there to scold me and shame me while I work.
The work I created in college was playful and fun. I always wanted to have fun with art and use my art to bring joy and humor to others. Many of my teachers didn’t agree with this approach and were always pushing me to come up with more powerful, deep, sociological statements for what my art meant.
I hated it. I still do. I did a lot of bullshitting back then. A lot of storytelling and inventing deep reasons for my creations. But the statements were all false, the reason for my art was always to have fun and fulfill a need in me. That’s it. And now that I’m 37 years old and have spent 3 decades making art, I can tell myself that that’s OKAY.
Yesterday’s pine tree didn’t work out. I accidentally used water based ink for my tree and when I tried to add paint to it today the ink bled everywhere. These things happen, it’s a small blunder and I easily moved on. But when I started making today’s piece that old art teacher scrutiny got in my head. You need to be more dramatic with your shading. You need to show more contrast, you need to have a heavier touch. I created this little creature with all of that in my head today. I’m glad I got it out, but it does irk me that those voices still affect me years later.
All told, I love this little guy. I think it’s the first piece I’ve made that I can say that about. I haven’t ever shaded with graphite pencils on watercolor paper before and it was a delight, all the textures really soaked up the values. Looking forward to doing it again.
3/26: Day 5
A simple tree with watercolor and brown ink. I didn’t have the energy today to do very much. Pregnancy is taking a lot out of me these days so bare minimum it is. I still like this little tree and I’m glad I at least made something today.
3/27: Day 6
Today I got out my Pentel Pocket Brush and got to work on two drawings. I love this pen so much because it’s so easy to create a drawing in just a few seconds. You can get tons of different line variations just based on how much pressure you put on the brush, and the rich, deep ink covers paper quickly. I made a little cup of coffee and a flower today. I’ll likely add a little paint to these tomorrow.
3/28: Day 7
I painted in yesterday’s ink drawings. Realized while I was working that I’m soooo out of practice with watercolors. Things that used to come so easy to me just don’t anymore. If you don’t use it you lose it. I haven’t seriously painted in more than a year and it shows. At first I felt bad about it and kind of wanted to give up. Then I realized if I gave up and stopped, there was zero chance I’d ever improve or get back to where I used to be. So I kept going. This is, after all, one of the biggest reasons I’m starting these daily draws, so I can get practice every single day.
I don’t love these, but I did still enjoy painting today. I’m looking forward to starting week two!