My 11-year-old daughter has joined the Artis Ateliers, drawing lessons at the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam. Every time she comes home with beautiful drawings. And she is very enthusiastic herself too, about the lessons themselves and the results.
Since I started to draw I noticed I have a lot of unwritten rules about drawing. For example: drawing from a photograph is not so good, tracing a drawing is unacceptable. I let go of the first rule rather quickly, when I joined Julia Kay’s Portrait Party I started to draw from photographs and I had a lot of fun. The last part of the rule is harder to break.
A few weeks ago I saw a beautiful view from the ferry when I crossed the river to the North of Amsterdam, I photographed it with the intention to draw it. Then I imported the photo in the Brushes app and I traced the photo on another layer. I was rather inhibited tracing the photo, I can’t help feeling ashamed about it. I’m not the only who has these strong emotions about tracing. Illustrator J.E. wrote about tracing: “I was born into a social and family environment with a certain artistic pretentiousness about it, and in this context it was considered quite unacceptable to copy or trace an image. Credit was only given to the ability to create interesting and original images using real life as inspiration as little as possible.”
Well…I traced this image and I’m showing this ‘lesser art’ to you anyway.
I found in the Flickr group Julia Kay’s Portrait Party an interesting discussion about tracing.
My 10-year-old nephew asked me: “How do choose what to draw?” His question surprised me because he doesn’t seem to have any problems with that. He draws terrific birds all the time. I said to him I didn’t mind what I draw, as long as I draw something. Thinking too much about and not knowing what to draw can paralyse me. Thinking about it more I realised I can divide the subjects I draw in two. I draw portraits for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (JKPP) and I draw whatever is in front of me (a lot of the time this is my partner). Here are some JKPP portraits I made in December.
Since I didn’t scan all the drawings I made of M. and since I started uploading the first 36 scans of these drawings to a free Flickr account, and the last drawings to my older Flickr Pro account, M’s drawings aren’t all in one Flickr set. That would be interesting though, because of the slide show feature of Flickr.
One week ago Michael Nobbs tweeted: “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! @paulienmaria has been working little and often and produced 94 portraits http://ow.ly/7SGjA“ Michael promotes the Sustainably Creativite tool: the little and often mantra: “Little and often” is for me a gentle reminder to keep moving forward using small regular steps.”
I have seen his approach in two self-help books and it really helped me a lot. While writing my Master thesis in 2005, I sticked to the advice of Joan Bolker in her book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, or SARK as she is known, calls it “micromovement”: tiny steps that add up to a big difference. She writes about it in her book Make Your Creative Dreams Real.
Last weeks I mainly concentrated on drawing portraits for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (JKPP) on Flickr: “This group is a virtual Portrait Party in which artists draw each other from photos posted for that purpose. All members of the group are therefore both subjects of portraits and creators of portraits.” I counted my JKPP portraits and found out I made 116 since I started one year ago. I didn’t make any goals and in JKPP there are no expectations: you can draw as much or as little as you want. Fellow JKPP’er Erica Smith wrote on Facebook when she passed the 100 JKPP portraits: “Drawing this many portraits really crept up on me, it wasn’t hard!” That’s exactly my experience.
About 14 months ago I set out to draw my partner 100 times. Last summer I lost count, because I worked in two notebooks at the same time. Yesterday I sat down to count the drawings and I found out I did draw 94 portraits of him. These are the last ones.
I have the ‘blogging without obligation’ logo and the ‘post a week’ logo on this blog. Is this contradictory? Probably. They are both useful for me, though. ‘Blogging without obligation’ is an idea by tiffini elektra x: “After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.” I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.” I really agree with her idea. It is very difficult though to not start to talk about not having blogged.
This week I made an exchange with a JKPP member EAGHL: she send me the drawing she made of me:
EAGHL (pronounced eagle) is an Oklahoma banker of three decades, retired to a small, rural community. The evening hours in their quiet home left a choice of watching television or watching the spouse work crossword puzzles. Eaghl decided to start coloring, but rapidly ran out of coloring pages. There was a special love for nudes art but there were no coloring books or coloring pages of nudes, so Eaghl created a few. These black and white coloring pages were then colored in with permanent ©Prismacolor markers. The local acclaim was soon forthcoming. An artist friend in a nearby Missouri community began to commission these markerings with heads of friends placed on the nude bodies in the pose of choice. Eaghl continues to work on portraits from photographs of friends, family and some celebrities. The art does not capture the individuals to perfection, but their likeness can be seen and they are recognizable.
Sometimes I have no idea at all and I just start somewhere. Most of the time I have some idea about what I want to draw and how I place on the page. During the drawing things always work out differently. Because people move. Because I planned to draw four people, but only three fit on the page. So mostly I just start somewhere and then find out where I will end up.
In this drawing I planned to draw both my brother and his friend, but during the drawing I realized that if I draw the real size of the space between the two, my brother’s friend will not fit on the page, so in the drawing I reduced the distance between them.
My daughter made at school a dinosaur of clay. She is very proud: her’s didn’t break, her classmates’ dinosaurs did. At home she painted it blue and red.
Without hesitation she disapproves of my drawing: it doesn’t look like her dinosaur. I don’t mind she disapproves of my drawings, but I do mind she is even harsh on her own (beautifull) drawings, when she tries to draw realistically.
But now she is drawing for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party and she gets so many positive comments, that she eased on herself. When I say I like her drawing, she doesn’t belief me, but when a stranger or Flickr-friend tells her that (s)he loves her drawing, she is convinced.
By the way, I think she is right about my drawing of the dinosaur: it doesn’t look like her’s at all. But still I like my version of it.