Yesterday was the first swim meet of the summer season so it was no surprise that I was sketching swimmers waiting for their race this morning.
Have you seen my Swimming Laps fabric print?
I’m participating in InkTober this year. Jake Parker created InkTober in 2009 “as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.” Learn more and see the official InkTober prompts here. It starts Saturday, October 1st!
There is something about fall and Halloween that really inspires me – as you can see from last year’s sketchbook above. For me, InkTober is just some extra motivation. I’m back in a creating groove, which makes me really happy. Anyone else participating? 🙂
In my first adult drawing class about 9 years ago, Eva, the instructor, had us bring in a pair of shoes to draw. I brought in my youngest’s baby shoes. I followed that up with a drawing of my daughter’s ballet shoes, and then one of my other son’s cleats. I still occasionally sketch my shoes. The angles, the foreshortening, the perspective – they are such a great subject to practice on!
My first shoes
Please excuse the large watermark 🙂
The other night, as I spent important time catching up on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I practiced drawing portraits. I couldn’t do it on the fly. I paused the tv and took a couple of photos of each of the women. I can see a glimmer of the woman in each sketch – some more faintly than the others. 🙂
I really enjoy sketching in front of the tv. I wish I did it more. It turns non-productive time into productive time. Give it a try!
I used to start creating something, not even finish, and jump to “Can I sell this?” I think I was in this mindset because at the time my creative outlet was my custom invitation/announcement business. This type of thinking was stifling my creativity, and was getting annoying. It prevented me from following through on ideas.
I started drawing and painting and left the invitation business behind. Classes really helped get me going, but after a while I wanted to see what I would work on on my own. What would inspire me without class assignments? But I had trouble motivating myself, so I started this blog. There in my original notes for this blog was “spend 3 months creating then open an online shop.”
I had given myself permission to create whatever I felt like, and to worry about selling later, even if it was just for 3 months. Once I started working at it, projects led to other project ideas. Trying one technique led to the desire to learn and try other techniques. I fell in love with creating. The voice asking, “can I sell this?” got quieter and quieter.
But, I saw other artist selling on different sites, in different ways, and wondered, “what is the best way?” So after ten months, I wrote a post asking for input on “where to sell.” One comment closed the door on selling for me:
Robert McArthur wrote,
I know this doesn’t answer your question, but I do have a string set of thoughts on this that I would like to share with you. Unless you have a pressing financial need to sell your work, I feel it is best to not consider selling your work. Instead focus on your art. Do you need to sell? If so ignore this. Otherwise, the need to make your work marketable will, if even subconsciously, cause you to change what you do, thus preventing you from freely developing naturally.”
My reply was,
“I appreciate your comment! I have been thinking the same thing. As I think about selling, I’ve been playing around with creating things that are more marketable. Just as you say, it’s affecting what I create. I really enjoy playing and creating whatever comes to me. I love how the final piece can be so unexpected (to me). If I continue in this way, I risk taking some of the joy out of creating. And the pieces I really love I wouldn’t consider selling! Thank you for writing what I was thinking.”
Robert McArthur had put into words that “thing” that had previously ruined my creativity. I was having so much fun creating I didn’t want to ruin it. And spending my time filling orders didn’t sound fun either.
Currently my state of mind is that my business is print and web design. But, I draw and paint because I love it. It brings me joy. I create patterns because I think it is fun to turn illustrations into patterns, and I love seeing those patterns printed. (My patterns are available for sale, but that wasn’t the motivation in creating them.)
It is very freeing not thinking about selling or what other people are doing. Although those paintings are piling up. Never say never. 😉
Sounds awfully dramatic when put this way – “Realizing a Vision.” But, having the ability to translate what I imagine in my head, onto paper, is still a big deal for me. Often things don’t turn out exactly how I envisioned them – but not always for the worse. Once I start drawing and designing things often take on a mind of their own.
With this project, it came out exactly how I envisioned it. It really made me pause. A few years ago I would not have been able to do this. I wouldn’t have been able to create what was in my head. There were a variety of reasons for this – lack of confidence, not persisting enough, and not having practiced enough to achieve what was in my mind – I guess you can call that lack of skill.
It’s kind of funny that I’m making such a big deal about an illustration for a garage sale flyer. But, I think it’s important to recognize milestones.
A friend asked my to design a garage sale flyer for the school. I’m a graphic designer so it wasn’t surprising that she asked, nor was it a big deal for me to bang out a flyer. But, in my mind I immediately saw it as an illustration project. Since I’m currently sketching “everyday objects” every morning – I began to think of all the things one would sell at a garage sale.
I pulled out paper and began drawing. I focused on the individual elements – not on how they would be arranged. I drew the way I do in my sketchbook in the morning – objects going this way and that, repeating an element a few times to get a better version. Then I scanned every page and arranged the objects in Photoshop. I designed the flyer (not shown) in Illustrator.
Kind of makes you want to pull out your junk and have a sale, right?
I’m already noticing a difference in my level of creativity, just a week after restarting my creative habits. It’s amazing how sketching every morning – often for just 5 minutes – leads to more sketching and painting later in the day. As Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
My creative habits were derailed a month or so ago, when I was busy with a work project. I forget how much I need my own creative projects. Working as a web and print designer, I have the pleasure of being creative with work. The downfall for me is relying on work as my creative outlet. Last month’s work project was very consuming and creatively fulfilling. I barely drew or painted during this time. Everything was great until the project wrapped up, and a new work project didn’t immediately replace it. I was out of the habit of working on my own stuff, so I was left feeling somewhat empty. As I wrote about in this post, I was having a really hard time motivating myself to work on my own projects.
Thankfully I was able to get back to it, although it’s not always easy to stick to it. I need to remember this lesson next time work gets very busy – to make time for my own creative projects, and to stick with my creative habits.
After seven days straight of working in my sketchbook every morning at the same time, this morning I said to myself, “I don’t feel like it. Maybe later.” So, I grabbed my kindle, which opened up to Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better than Before,” and the words,
“Scheduling makes us far more likely to convert an activity into a habit.”
How could I not put down the kindle and pick up the sketchbook? So today, I’m celebrating and sharing my eighth day in a row of sketching. Here’s to my new creative habit (almost).
Read this post to learn why I’m working hard to cement my creative habits: Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s book
I have really fall in love with my sketchbook. For me, it isn’t so much a place to practice, but a place to come up with ideas and explore them. It is the epitome of no pressure, just playing. Often a new idea from my sketchbook becomes the inspiration for a painting or a pattern design. I’m trying to get back to a more regular sketching schedule. It leads to more paintings.
If you are wondering where I’ve been lately, my business has really been picking up. It’s really exciting to grow and nurture something and see results. You can see my latest graphic design projects on my Facebook page or visit my website www.eileenmckenna.com.