For years, I’ve set occasional intentions to draw more but have never stuck with it (see: drawing cute animals from… several years ago). I tend to put too much pressure on it, believing that the drawings needed to be more significant, polished, or special than I could maintain. I also just thought I wasn’t good enough at it.
So when I watched Kate Binaman-Burt’s Skillshare class Drawing Collections: Illustrating Stories through Taxonomies I was filled with relief, enthusiasm, and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be a high-pressure activity! Kate’s easy, relaxed approach to drawing was like a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to look at the collected works of an artist and think “Oh, I’ll never have that many drawings” or “I’m not that good, so why bother” or “I don’t have good ideas like other artists”. But she helped me see that collections of drawings don’t happen all at once — they build up over time. The way you get good at something is to practice, practice, practice. And a drawing can be of anything — ANYTHING! She’s a great example of how stories can be told through the most ordinary objects.
So I finally started doing daily drawings. I hope I don’t fizzle out on it any time soon.
While on our recent summer vacation (a week in a cabin in the California Redwoods), I took the opportunity to document (journal with drawings, really) some of the things around us. This activity helped me see how much I like my drawings to have context. Adding little blurbs per Kate’s suggestion was one of the keys I had been missing before, and it makes me enjoy the process so much more.
The class also made me more aware of the types of drawings and illustrations that I like. I looked back through my Pinterest board of inspiring illustrations and noticed some patterns:
- handmade, imperfect style
- groupings/collections of objects
- ink drawings
- isolated objects
- labeling of objects
- distinct lines, shapes, and patterns as if they are screen prints or cut out of paper (vs. soft or painterly style)
These actually track with what I’ve learned about myself (through taking personality tests — I never met a personality test I didn’t like!) over the years:
- I love to collect and archive all kinds of information
- my desire to learn and improve
- intellectual things are important to me
- I’m analytical, objective, methodical, and detail-oriented
- I just want things to make sense!
For now, I’m sketching first in pencil, and then I go over the lines with a Rapidograph pen filled with black ink (except for one day where I forgot and grabbed a Micron instead — which wasn’t nearly as dark as the india ink) and erase the ink. Sometimes I don’t wait long enough for the ink to dry before I erase and the ink smudges. Sometimes I add some watercolor or india ink wash. And sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s about having fun and exploring and not perfection.
- Rapidograph pen filled with india ink
- Micron 05 pen
- tube watercolors
- size 4 watercolor brush
- pencil and white plastic eraser