Last month, I announced on social media that I was taking a break. Honestly, it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done over the past few months! Without the pressure of doing art for a living and without needing to justify my productivity on social media, I’ve been able to try out sooo many things – so, what’s new? 😉
Drawing for myself
The main reason for my break was that I had come to realize I didn’t take enough time for creating work I was truly satisfied with. Last month, I got aware of another bad habit I had taken on without realizing after I started freelancing: putting quantity over quality. As freelancing always required me to work on a dozen things at the same time, I often rushed through projects, as everything I did was supposed to either be showcased or bring in money – so I wanted to take decent time again to draw things just for myself.
Last month, I’ve been consciously focusing on all the small details I hadn’t done properly before, and it already made quite a difference in how I perceived my work. I got back to drawing for pleasure, which is so much more rewarding than drawing because of an algorithm and the fear of needing to make a living! 😊
Drawing every day – Things I’ve learned
My challenge last month was drawing every day, no matter what happened. I’m pleased to say that I managed to stick to it except for two days I think, where life just happened and I had to take care of after-corona organisation. Here are some things I’ve (re)learned and which can hopefully come in handy for you, too.
Drawing just for the sake of drawing
Often, we get overwhelmed with everyday life, work, clients, family, you name it. Taking even 5 minutes to draw every day forces you to focus on yourself, and to just have pleasure with drawing. And it can be anything – quick sketches, portraits, an object, just do whatever makes you feel happy! Also, note that your sketches don’t always need to be masterpieces. When you’re drawing for yourself, and not for the sake of showcasing it on social media afterwards, I think it’s much easier to accept “failed drawings” and move on – it’s just the fun of drawing that counts.
Working with references to build your visual library
Drawing with references is not cheating, if you do it intelligently. Using references to analyze a model helps get a better understanding, especially if we are not familiar with that thing. Let’s say a client asks you to draw an oldtimer car – very few of us are able to draw one from imagination, and of course, your client won’t be satisfied with just a box and four circles, so you’ll need to use study some references to make it look believable. Once you’ve drawn it from various angles, you’ll start to understand patterns, and the more you draw and understand the object, the easier it’ll be afterwards for you to draw it without model – and it goes for any subject.
Focus on one thing at a time
While it may be tempting to want to do everything at once, it’s way more rewarding to take your time to really understand a topic. Don’t rush because you think you’ve understood something – really go in depth until you are fully satisfied with what you’re doing, and can do it in your sleep. While it seems slow and painful in the short term, you’ll benefit from it in the long term. Think of it: you learn only the approximate outlines of the human body’s muscles, and one year later, you realize you’re not able to draw certain poses correctly because you didn’t bother to learn the muscles in depth – and you’ll need to study again everything anew. Believe me, once you’re stuck with bigger projects you can’t always draw as you want, you’ll curse your younger self for not bothering to do all the serious stuff before!
Keep on working even if it’s boring
More or less in the same direction than the previous tip; if you really want to improve, it’s important that you stay motivated, even if things are difficult or boring. I know, it’s tedious to always draw the same stuff, but if you want to fully master it, then you’ll need to put in the work. As most of us need to study for get good grades for exams, artists need to study to improve their artwork. Yes, it’s often boring, painful, but so rewarding in the end.
And if it really gets too boring – add some challenges
I just said you shouldn’t work on too many different things at a time, but combining two things you really want to work on should be alright, otherwise it gets too boring. My main goal this month was improving my portraits. Though, over the different days, I always added another small challenge, that was complementary to the main goal, drawing heads: adding a better lineart, colouring the head with different colour palettes, studying new hairstyles. I deliberately left the body away so that I could fully focus on portraits over a whole month – but with the small challenges added, it was always fun and different.
And of course, most importantly, have fun! 🙂
Join me on Patreon.com/SabrinaK!
If you want to know more and follow the whole journey, you can get my full sketchbook diary this month on Patreon! With over 40 pages, it contains every single sketch I’ve done, the good and not so good, with comments on how I tackled every challenge, pieces of advice, and resources I’ve used.
Your support on Patreon means a lot as it helps me secure a regular income for all the work I’m sharing with you online for free. As I’m moving away from freelance work and there are no conventions right now to make some sales, even the smallest contribution makes a difference and helps me create more for you, and with you!
I’d be so happy to join you on board of my art journey ♥