Zoo Trips – Week 1

Even before I knew I was doing for the rest of Blaugust, I already had one plan in place: to visit the zoo every (week)day.

I narrowed in on lemurs as my main sketching subject because there are lots of them and they’re usually easy to see. One week in and I now have pages and pages of lemur sketches, from which I’ve pulled out just a few to share here.

The main purpose of the project was simply to get used to having my sketchbook out, and to use it more often. It has already been a complete success. I also sketched while out and about on the weekend and in a lull while volunteering today (for the Melbourne Writers Festival).

My focus for the next week is to really watch the lemurs and then sketch my impressions of them. Less direct observational drawing and more short term memory of specific poses or personalities.

After that, maybe I’ll focus on particular anatomy: how do their hands and feet work, perhaps. We’ll see. It’s been really nice, anyway. I think I’m just gonna wanna visit the zoo every day forever.

A 30 Day Project

Earlier in the year, I did a month-long evening drawing project. It could, perhaps, be seen as a precursor to this project, so I want to share it.

Task: draw people from reference photos.* Materials: brown paper and coloured pencils. Successfully completed daily: yes.

After a rocky start, I realised a few things.

  1. I needed to limit my palette. The colours were overwhelming. Once I realised that, I chose a limited selection of pencils at the start of the drawing (based on the main colours in the reference photo), and used only those. It made everything easier and more fun. Also it looked better.
  2. The material I was using was important. There was no point using coloured pencils as if they were paint – I was better off enjoying them for what they were. This led to me leaving much more of the paper blank, actually using pencil textures, and creating more interesting illustrations.

After these realisations it was fairly smooth sailing. I had pictures I liked and pictures I hated, but overall I was learning. And that was the main thing.

*I created a selection of pictures before starting and just worked my way through them in order. Taking away my choice of subject and material was a really useful technique that helped me actually sit down and do the work. Credit to Roz Stendahl for the idea. I really recommend her blog posts on projects and goal setting and the internal critic if you want to get better at something (anything) but struggle to stick at it.

Happy Blaugust!

It’s Blaugust again. I am already nearly a week deep in an artistic development project, of a slightly different sort than last year. It’s inspired by last year, but far more practical and hands on. I am learning to create illustrations traditionally. That is, with paints, pencils, collage, etc. And no computer.

It’s something I’ve made a few attempts at throughout the last year, but each time I’ve given up thinking I want this picture to look good and I know I can make it look better on the computer so I’m gonna just do that. This time is different because, well, these illustrations aren’t for anything in particular. They will be what they will be, even though that likely means they won’t fit into my portfolio.

This time is also different because I’ve set myself a bunch of very specific activities, assignments and tasks to hopefully break it all down. I’ve unfortunately already realised I might need to change/add some tasks, but we can talk about that another day.

Along with recording and analysing my progress, I’ll also use these Blaugust posts to talk about what I’ve been up to in the last year, and probably to dissect some cool artists I like.

Bye friends, see you tomorrow 🙂