The best part about completing a 365 drawing project is that you can see how far you’ve come, and by forcing yourself into constant practice, you can only get better.
Since I was little, I’ve always had a penchant for drawing. I could draw decently, but I was a lazy observer. The first time I really noticed this was in a Life Drawing class when I wasn’t seeing all the details the other students were–things like the contours of the muscles or the many shadows that fell on the human body. My figures were exaggerated, cartoon like, and stiff. I was basically drawing what I thought the human figure looked like, instead of actually drawing the human figure.
Despite my interest in drawing, I was very much into digital and all things Photoshop at the time. I was not very interested in improving my drawing skills, so I had decided to let drawing pass me by. Things started to change towards the end of my BFA, however, as I became more interested in traditional mediums. I had fallen in love with the charm and skill that came from making amazing pieces through traditional means, and it began to draw my attention more and more.
Also during this time I was reading Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. A story about Miyamoto Musashi, one of Japan’s greatest swordsman, who had spent years perfecting his craft. He had spent years locked up in a castle, reading all he could on the art of war, and once he got out, spent years of hard work becoming a master. This thought had pierced my brain and dwelled in the back of my mind. “You can’t be amazing until you put in the time and dedication.”
This idea rolled around in my mind for a good part of a year until I decided to make up my mind. I wanted to be better at drawing, and one of the ways to do that was to start a 365 drawing project. Drawing everyday for a year. Constantly observing, constantly drawing. Getting better and never slowing down.
…so off I went.
The first couple of days were hard. I was having a hard time figuring out what to draw, and a lot of my inspiration came from an easy source, the pages of a glossy fashion magazine. Eventually after about two weeks, I started getting into the groove. I drew from my surroundings: what I thought was a cool picture, an illustration idea I had, a cute animal in the news, whatever I felt like. After a few months, I needed to draw. It was something I felt like I had to do.
By drawing constantly, I was able to see vast improvements in that year alone. I noticed I was getting more creative, my techniques were improving, and I had developed a better understanding of 3D space. It was amazing to see how much you could improve in a year.
Where I got really excited, however, was when I was comparing my drawings from before to my 365 drawing project. My portraits started looking like the people they were suppose to, the proportions got better, and there was a general improvement in my drawings. Though there was still a lot of things that needed to be improved upon, I was finally getting to the place I wanted to be. It was true–without hard work and dedication you can’t be amazing.
After the success of my first 365 project, I always had it in my mind to keep going. One of the biggest things I was still having a hard time drawing was the human figure. It was never up to the level I wanted. My human figures were still exaggerated and cartoon like, and it was always disappointing to me because I wanted to render them more realistically. So to be able to do that, I decided to start another 365 drawing project, where I would exclusively study the human figure.
In addition to studying the human figure, I also wanted to get comfortable with a medium which had terrified me for years. Pen had terrified me because it was “permanent” and required a little more confidence than I had. So by using pen exclusively for my second 365 project, I knew that over time, me and pen would become best friends.
Throughout the second year, I was able to get a lot accomplished. I developed a better understanding of the structure beneath the human figure, I became more comfortable with pen though I had a tendency to use it a little too light, and I had reduced the amount of ink blots in my drawings. My figures had better proportions and were more realistic.
However, the best part of completing my second 365 drawing project was to compare it to my first project and to drawings from before. The differences were clear. My drawings were beginning to lose the exaggerated proportions and cartoon like features. The line work was also looser and more realistic, and even though I had a mishap here and there, the proportions of faces also drastically improved. I also found out how fun it was to draw hands, something I had always avoided, and by taking the time to focus on things that intimidated me, I was able to conquer my “demons” and grow! Completing two 365 drawing projects has shown me that I will always be a student, and to continually get getter, you must always be practicing.