100 lessons from 100 drawings


“Life imitates art” but art imitates life too.

(I read that as ‘art irritates life’ just now. Also true) 

 

100 daily drawings taught me a lot more about drawing, more than I realised I didn’t know. Drawing techniques, practicalities, possibilities, and all that comes along with steady daily practice.

But there seemed to be bigger lessons showing up as well.

These were observations I heard over and over again in my thoughts, page after page. Of course many of these revelations aren’t really about drawing. They are about everything.

In no particular order, these are the top 100 realisations that accompanied this project.

  1. It’s been an exercise in letting go of expectations, of ideal outcomes, and the accompanying paralysis of progress.
  2. I’m learning to let go of ‘finished looking’  – being finished – being a ‘piece of art’ (whatever that might be).
  3. Letting go of what other folks think, a neediness for approval or validation.
  4. Letting go of the rules. This is my book: my rules. Rule 1: there are no rules.
  5. ‘Drawing every day’ isn’t even a rule.
  6. Drawing for 100 days doesn’t mean 100 consecutive days.  Don’t make up excuses to stop. Pick up and start again. Keep doing this. Just get to 100. 
  7. The photo is only a guide, a suggestion, a jumping off point. This isn’t an exercise in copying. A drawing can’t be wrong.
  8. It doesn’t have to have the same colors, same shape, same perspective.
  9. It doesn’t have to be the same every day – the same time, the same ‘style’, the same anything. Just another day, another page, another drawing. Keep exploring the other-ness
  10. Some days have a flow to them – some days have an awkwardness – some days are fuelled by imagination – some days are an uphill slog.
  11. Some are bits of all of these and flit and flicker between.
  12. Some pages have words – information – data – facts – important-to-remembers.
  13. Some page’s words and rememberings are from another day and don’t make sense any more. And that’s okay.
  14. Some days are unfinished. They will stay that way. I don’t have to go back. (there is no real ‘finished’).
  15. Some days get lost and forgotten.
  16. Some days are just made for catch ups.
  17. Some catch ups are liberating – rejuvenating – expansive – explosions of imagination.
  18. Some catch ups are uncomfortable and riddled with angst.
  19. Some catch ups are a cold hard slog and bring up all the WHY???s


  20. Sometimes it feels like a trajectory that cannot fail.
  21. Sometimes it feels like losing footing – in slow motion – in the dark.
  22. Sometimes it feels like treading water – waiting – waiting – waiting….
  23. Sometimes it feels like falling – sinking – drowning.
  24. Some drawings take on their own life with unseen meaning.
  25. Some drawings take on their own life with an energy that didn’t come from me.
  26. Some drawings have their own momentum – I watch them take shape with the curiosity of an outside observer.
  27. Some drawings just don’t care. I could learn the most from these.
  28. Some drawings have to be inched out slowly.
  29. Some drawings surprise me by the reactions they evoke from others.
  30. Some drawings surprise me by the feelings they evoke in me.
  31. Some drawings overwhelm, some disappoint, some pass unjudged.
  32. Some drawings have stories that let out secrets.
  33. Some drawings are stories that hide more than they reveal.
  34. Some stories are universal, everyone recognises a little bit of it in themselves.
  35. Some stories are so deep they are unfathomable.

  36. Some projects are way larger than the sum of their parts. This is certainly one of them.
  37. Some projects are a stepping stone to a place I never knew existed before I started.
  38. Some projects are meant to be finite. Done is done.
  39. Some projects are meant to be repeated – reiterated – revisited.
  40. Some projects are not supposed to be finished. They hang….
  41. Some projects are so deeply enmeshed in a life, we are one and the same.
  42. Some projects are fun to watch – to join – to play along.
  43. Some projects never escape the confines of my mind, jammed up in the mechanism of the mental rotadex.
  44. Sometimes the purpose will shift and change midway through. Over and over. The act of shifting becomes the purpose.
  45. Sometimes the purpose won’t show itself until long after it’s over.
  46. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to others.
  47. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to me – and that’s all that matters.
  48. Sometimes the purpose is unique to everyone who witnesses it.
  49. Sometimes the purpose is unique to the season – or to the day.
  50. Sometimes the way it seems, is the way it is. Sometimes it’s not been close.
  51. Sometimes the way it seems is only a clue. It’s a seed, or a plan, or part of a bigger pattern.
  52. The more I look for patterns the more I see them.
  53. Patterns can be visual, patterns can be habitual, patterns repeat.
  54. Patterns within patterns fascinate me most.
  55. It’s ok to get stuck in one color for a while, the other colors will wait.
  56. It’s ok to use all the colors – or none of them – or not care which.
  57. It’ll never be finished, so keep moving forwards. 
  58. It’ll never be perfect, don’t ask it to be.
  59. This might not answer the questions you thought it would.
  60. This might not answer any questions. It might lead to more questions…
  61. This might have no meaning at all – right now – or ever. And that’s okay too.
  62. If a meaning wants to show itself to you, it will find a way.
  63. Whatever is underneath, showing through, is part of what is now. Let all the elements become parts of the whole. Allow the merge.
  64. Describe the drawing in words –  this is where the metaphors hide.
  65. Describe the drawing out loud,  it’s subtly different.
  66. Shift the emphasis foreground to background, positive to negative space. Dance in between them.
  67. Choose which details to use, which details to ignore, and which to make up.
  68. Choose the image from within the image.
  69. Find the art inside the photo.

  70. Notice how some images repeat, return and revisit.
  71. Notice how some characters keep showing up.
  72. Notice how some character’s expressions are the same: the face that asks: you still trying to draw me?
  73. Notice how color schemes repeat.
  74. Notice the themes of facing pages match unconsciously.
  75. Notice how time concertinas in and out when you count the days.
  76. Notice how the seemingly simple is really complex. And how the complex can be divided into manageable size bites.
  77. How complexity presents a challenge, then the victory, the good enough level of mastery.
  78. Balancing good enough against keep trying.
  79. Knowing when to stop, knowing when to keep going.
  80. How it’s all a freaking metaphor (and that’s all of these too).
  81. The bravery to pursue a doomed drawing, to trust it to turn around and turn out good, or just okay.
  82. The bravery to post a picture I didn’t like, and the ones I did.
  83. The bravery of sending these out into the wilds of the internet. It can be cold out there.
  84. The revelation that others might like what I didn’t, see a beauty I can’t.
  85. The revelation of turning the page, not looking back for a few weeks. How what’s on the page ‘gets better’ when it’s left to rest.
  86. The revelation of drawings I hated, that hold no strong feelings now. And drawings I loved.


  87. How much a background wash or splot of paint makes adds to a drawing.
  88. How much a patch of color shifts a mood.
  89. How much the character of the drawing is from the colors.
  90. How much a drawing style develops over time, but can’t be seen from such close quarters or day to day.
  91. How much a drawing style develops through simple repetition.
  92. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. 😉
  93. How ideas will hide and evade when called for, then descend en masse when it’s too late (and how it’s never really too late).
  94. How some ways of making are so ingrained I don’t know there are other ways.
  95. How chasing the other ways is part of the learning.
  96. How finding other ways leads to new kinds of learning.
  97. There are always going to be new ways of learning!
  98. The journey is a spiral. The path isn’t re-trodden, next loop around looks familiar, but the view has altered.
  99. The journey keeps going. Keeps going.
  100. The mixed emotions at the end of a project, the end of an adventure, the intangible closure.

 


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daily learning


Do you have daily practices?

I kinda do, but my progress moves like a caterpillar – that scrunching-stretching motion, so while it averages out as daily, it might not always be technically daily.

This is the thing: – I’m acknowledging this now instead of berating myself. I’m learning my rhythms and working within them.  I’m letting the process be the lesson.

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2016: A work in progress/process

Since the start of this year I’ve been adding to this book of ‘daily’ doodles. Mostly every day I complete a 1″square. The days when I don’t, I return to, always within a day or two, and as I doodle I reflect back on that day. Sometimes there’s a word or a shape or a scrap of something to glue into the square. Everyday is similar, yet every day is unique.

It’s another unfolding metaphor.

 

 

joining the dots


One of the things I want to achieve in 2016 is a greater sense of cohesiveness.

A few weeks ago I adopted a new (to me) method of ordering my days, weeks, things, lists and such: Bullet Journalling  the ‘analog system for the digital age’. 

IMG_6670While I reside on the edge of digital geekfulness where I appreciate I nicely formulated spreadsheet, some tidy code, but all too easily get weighed down in flipping between fonts pixel to pixel tweaks, and then endless subdivided minutiae.

Unlimited possibility in limited time.

But I’m also the girl who drools at the thought of the stationery store, giddily thinking about books, the kind I can write and draw and scribble in….. Mmmmmm… and All Those Pens. In All Those Colours. 

The type of rules and systems I like are the flexible ones that adapt and evolve in a forgiving fashion.

And lists appeal to my sometime dithering confusion of too much to do/can’t remember if I did it/had an idea that I put down somewhere and can’t see it now for all the shit and kerfuffle that heaps up in my head….

And so far bullet journalling is fitting my contradictory character and fulfilling pretty much all the hopes I had for it. Organised chaos, checked off detail by detail. Coupled with an inconsistent colour-coding system that I reckon might figure itself out over time.

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Many, many part-duplicated lists, notebooks, digital documents, scribbles on envelopes, diaries, journals, sketchbooks and whatnot occupy my world. I’m gonna keep them, but they’re going to rest quietly for future reminiscences while this episode plays out.

The current paradigm is one in which all the brain-dumps are contained between the covers of this delicious A5 turquoise leuchtturm 1917. 6 weeks and 51 pages in, me & book are getting along swimmingly. I’m enjoying the process of joining the dots of my thoughts, skimming back through old notes and scavenging usable information, ongoing plans and wishes.

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… Lists of Lists … Things To Look Up … Art To Make … Projects To Begin … Projects To Complete … Books To Read … Places to Go … Bands to Explore … Quotes That Inspire … Universal Reusable Lists … Posts to Blog …

All these sandwiched between pages of What To Remember in annual, monthly & daily sized chunks.

The magic of it is: once they’re in the book they no longer take up space in my mind.

 

learning in patterns


The process of learning has a lot to do with recognising patterns.

A pattern repeats enough and you can come to trust it.

Then suddenly it changes: Confusion ensues.

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I’ve been here before: I’m trotting along, understanding;
each new level of understanding fits comfortably on top of the last and it’s creating a tidy heap of organised information.

I know the routine. I’m cool with this.

Then we turn a corner and I’m lost.
Where did you go?

You were right there in front of me and now you aren’t and I can’t see you and I’m lost.

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I don’t get any of it, the words aren’t making sense, the concepts are too big and won’t fit.

Too many options.

Parameters are too wide and I’m looking about for some clues and can only see confusion and fog.

Where am I?

You’ve already clambered up to the next level, so you know it’s possible.You know what I don’t. You see what I can’t.

I just need you to tell me in the right words, explain in a shape I can focus on.

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Give me a hand up. I’ll be encouraged to know that   where you are is actually a place because you’re there already, but I don’t see how I get from where I am now in my understanding to the dizzying lofty heights you’re occupying.

Hold out your hand and reach out to me.

We both know when I get there I’ll look down and it won’t seem so far.

And from there I can help the next of them climb up too.

on being me.


I love to learn.

I take in as much information as I can every day.

It swims about inside my head,
It gets filtered (a little bit).

Forming together into cohesive chunks
I consider my ‘knowledge’.

TBH, it’s a bit cluttered in there.

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Overgrown.

Oftentimes, when I extract some of these really interesting new things to share,
they get all mashed up on the way out.

One idea gets tangled up
with a theory from somewhere else,

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In my mind it’s a beautifully crafted gestalt,
digested and distilled,
It’s the architecture of my reality.

But you only see a fin,
or a twig,
a remnant,
truncated from context.

It sounds like nonsense to you.

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(I know this to be true)

corridor of doors


I love metaphors.

In my world knowledge presents itself as a corrridor full of doors.

Some are locked,

Some seemingly lead nowhere.

Keep on moving, keep trying the doors.

Many lead to another corridor. All these corridors are full of doors.

But gotta keep trying…

Today’s door opened to everything there is to photography beyond low-level point-shoot-n-hope set on auto. Totally loving college!