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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a braid of ideas


A three ply art project in the making:

This is my Inktober inspired Sketchbook Project for Twelvty 2018: Three ideas smooshed together between the covers of a 5 x 7 inch book which will be the springboard into a new adventure for next year.

 

……..this is a story that began in July……..

Part One: The Sketchbook Project

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The Sketchbook Project is just as the name suggests. It’s a collaborative art project, and it’s enormous. It’s 36,130 artists’ books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries over 11 years. In 2018 it will contain at least one more, and that will be my one. 

My book arrived in the mail on Monday 31 July, straight away I set to work on doodling a first page with my initial thoughts and ideas:

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Contented that I’d made my first mark, I set the book aside while I waited for the ideas to formulate. Then I got sick, and was away from my life for a while. The up-side to hospital-strength pain relief is that although I wasn’t able to create anything for a while, the visual ideas flooding my brain were far beyond what my usual imagination can conjure, and I’ve still got a solid grasp on what I saw inside my head.

Yes, they were colourful. (more on that in part three).

………. now let’s fast forward to September……….

 

Part two: Inktober

Inktober is an annual ink drawing challenge held online every October. Again, the clue is in the title.

I was dithering as to whether I’d participate this year, historically I’ve been rubbish at commitment. Is this a good reason not to play along? That’s what I was pondering on n off through September.

Until I hit upon the way my three ideas perfectly fit together. 

Ink drawings are the scaffolding for the content of my sketchbook project – the top layer of which I’ll explain in part three  – combining to make real what my muddled little opiated brain saw in hospital. And leading me into a project I’m planning for 2018!

“OHMYGOSH IT’S LOOKING A LOT LIKE A PLAN OF ACTION”

 

…………. now fast forward to October 1st……..

Today began page one of the sketchbook, #inktober doodle number one, a commentary on my thought process as the project reveals itself to me. It’s all quite meta. 
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(you can see daily progress here on Instagram…. )

Black and white drawings are all well and good, as they form the scaffolding for the content of my sketchbook, but in order for it to be ‘me’ it needs some color, right? Of course it does.

……. Which brings me to ……

Part three: TWELVTY 2018

Twelvty is the environment in which almost all my art has evolved this year:  With each month a new color – as conveniently there are 12 colors in the color wheel if you count the tertiaries (which are by far my favs) – this perfectly fits one year.

complementary colors: opposites in the color wheel
complementary colors: opposites in the color wheel

An aspect of this color wheel journey I’ve enjoyed exploring more deeply this year is the ways that each color fits in amid its neighbours; how they interact. How they dance.

I’ve developed a real fascination with balancing the pairs and groups of colors – the complementaries, the triadic groups…

This is something I intend to explore more thoroughly in a second variation of Twelvty in 2018.

This is also the way I plan to add color to the Inktober doodlings in the sketchbook project book.

 

The Plan:

So there we have it: The doodles and drawings of Inktober will form the structure of my vision for the sketchbook.

In November I’ll add the colours, which will be the pairs and threesomes of color theory illustrating the beauty of the color wheel.

This in turn will be the visualisation of a new program all about color balancing for the new year.

YIKES!

 

I’ll tell you more about these 2018 incarnations of Twelvty at a future date. Meanwhile I’ve got important doodles to do!

Be sure to get on my mailing list if you’re even a little bit interested in finding out more about TWELVTY 2018 cos there’ll be special deals for folks on my list!

ideas about ideas about ideas…


I’ve been processing thoughts on and around the creative process over the weekend. Unravelling thought processes.

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In my exploration I can across this article ‘Find your creative currency’. It invites us to explore where our ideas emerge from. Like the author I can happily binge on texture.

concrete. what's not to love.
concrete. Deliciously speckly – what’s not to love.

Tree bark, rocks, skin, textiles, metals (and everything else) – they all have the potential to release a new stream of wanna-make/draw/invent/etc.

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But more so I get this from arrangements of color. A little grouping colors – a patch of nature or a window display, the clothes on a passing stranger or a row of parked cars. These are magical gifts to a color hungry mind. I have been known to stop and gaze at a stretch of brickwork or a row of books on a shelf for just this reason.

Really?

Really, no, not known to. Because I don’t generally tell people that’s what’s going on.

(But I do it, and that’s why.)

Thought forms


This is one where I’m beginning in the middle. I’ll catch you up on the beginning next, but let’s start off here, just coz I feel like it.

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Thoughtforms are a series of relief collages I’m making from the dyed paper (way back… remember the dyed paper?) IMG_3421a

and the don’t-know-why-but-compelled-to-keep-making-them funny little colored rectangle things.

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So these loose ends are also finding each other and forming into slightly more coherent entities.

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Thoughtforms are continuing that recurring theme: trains of consciousness & patterns of thought. More on that later.

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I’ve made 6 of a series that will total 9, 3 are still in progress. These 6 are on display (and for sale – if you’re quick before they get snapped up!) at the Upstairs Gallery

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Each one is named after a fragment of text found somewhere in the piece, serendipity giving them eclectic names such as: Spacecraft, Puddings cakes etc, Fortitude and Adversity amongst others.

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The next series will include more textile elements, but the overall feel will be similar.

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Still with that one theme leads to another, one thought folds round a corner and opens out into a coiled up spring, some buttons and a rivet, stitched onto the overarching idea of something else.

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Or something. Y’know, like it does. The beauty is they can represent whatever you want them to. Or nothing at all if you .