The #100DayProject began in April, but I didn’t find out about it until it started and I was on a coastal getaway without many of my art supplies. However, that did not stop me from conjuring up ideas that I could take on for my personal 100 Day Project. 100 days of watercolor splashes, 100 days of Bearcat, 100 days of watercolor patterns – oh, the possibilities! Once I got back home and was within arm’s reach of my paints, I would get started, I told myself.
Then April slipped away, and before I knew it, I was left with shadows of my ideas, hiding in the corners of my mind. They peeked out hopefully now and then, but as time passed, so did they.
Fortunately, there is no expiration date when it comes to creating art. You just have to do it, especially when the inspiration strikes, or else you might end up with stale ideas that are so tired and flat, even a good slather of butter and homemade jam can’t liven it up!
However, while inspiration swarmed my mind these past couple of months, I found it difficult to pick up a pencil or a paint brush. I had lists of wondrous ideas lined up and ready to enter Reality, and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do any of them. It was a very frustrating feeling, and I knew that I had to dig to the root of the problem, so I asked myself, “Self, WHY?”
Side note: If you’re ever feeling stuck with anything, or you find yourself giving excuses for doing something, ask yourself WHY? Why don’t you want to do this? Why is this stopping you? And once you’ve answered that question, ask WHY again, and then again and again until you get to the root of it all. It’s a very enlightening process, in my opinion!
Anyway, after asking myself lots of WHYs, I realized a few of things:
- I’m afraid of failure. It is intimidating to try creating something and not have it turn out as planned. (The funny thing is, this is how drawing usually goes, and I deal with this all the time, even though I’ve been drawing for so many years!)
- I feel stressed when there are other obligations. Majority of the time, I still have to work a full-time day job. If I work on illustrating in the morning and know that I still have to work that same day, I feel rushed when I’m creating and the process is not enjoyable. Thinking about this negative aspect made me hesitant to draw, and that was not something I wanted to focus on.
- It is such a bother to take out all of my supplies. My art supplies are currently crammed into two dresser drawers at one end of the apartment, and the kitchen table where I work is all the way at the other end of the apartment. I’m going to cover this more next week, so for now, let’s focus on the first two problems…
Knowing what my biggest problems were, I came up with a solution that will allow me to draw daily without any of the above pressures. Let’s think of it in terms of exercising. When you exercise, you shouldn’t jump right into an intense workout. You need to do a warmup before you start to prevent any injuries. Even a quick 5-minute warmup is sufficient to get your bones and muscles ready to go for burpees, running, or jumping jacks.
So I came up with an idea to do…a sketch warmup! Similar to exercise warmups, I needed quick and simple moves before getting started on the actual, intense workout (in this case, art project). Hence, my 100 Days of Sketch Warmups was born. (But that didn’t make a good hashtag, so I changed it to #100Days15Minutes because I am only doing a quick sketch for 15 minutes every single day. For 100 days.)
My 100 Day Project
As of this blog post date, I am now on Day 36, and it has already been an incredible experience. Below, I share some of the sketches I have done so far and some lessons learned throughout the process, but first – the three main guidelines for my project:
1. Time Limit
I am limiting myself to only 15 minutes a day, because like an exercise warmup, it’s not the real-deal part of the workout. But also, 15 minutes allows me to not feel pressured to complete a full drawing, and if I am pressed for time, 15 minutes is extremely doable. So if I don’t get around to working on any other illustration projects, at least I got in a 15-minute sketch!
2. Subject Matter
To take the pressure off of creating something “perfect,” I decided to do copy sketches, which is basically copying another image. I know copying might sound sacrilegious, but I think it’s such a great way to practice sketching. Just as long as you are NOT taking credit for that piece of artwork, then I think it’s okay. And of course, give credit where credit is due!
Copy-sketching also frees up your mind from thinking of what to draw, because it’s all thought up of for you. You don’t have to sit and wonder if this is good enough or not; you just copy what you see. Which means that you can jump right into it without worrying about all the details.
This project is extremely similar to my 30 Day Creative Challenge, which I did last year, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! In fact, I think keeping it simple helps me complete the challenge better. So like my 30 Day Creative Challenge, I am sticking to a plain graphite pencil. That way, I don’t have to worry about pulling out additional supplies and setting up my drawing station. I can start whenever and wherever I want, which makes this project a whole lot easier.
WHAT 15 MINUTES LOOKS LIKE
The important thing about a sketch warmup is the time limit, because this sketch is not meant to be a perfected artwork. Its purpose is to loosen up, draw more freely, and get into the creating zone. (Some other perks include learning new styles and becoming faster the more you draw!)
At the start of every sketch warmup, I set a timer. Originally, this was supposed to be 10 minutes, but I felt like that time was too short. So in this drawing above (from a library book called Cottage Homes), you can actually see that it’s a little bit more rushed, as I tried to fit in as much as I could in 10 minutes. Once I added 5 more minutes, I was able to add in some details. But overall, I didn’t really understand how long 15 minutes felt, so it was a very fast sketch.
Because I felt so rushed the day before, I decided to try to add more details for Day 2, which is copied from a concept sketch of the Tortoise House in The Art of God of War. The result is that I didn’t get as much of the image down as I would have liked, since details take more time.
However, 15 minutes does take longer than you may think! I kept thinking about my timer going off, so I still felt somewhat rushed while doing this sketch. But I know that over time, I will get used to what 15 minutes feels like.
Ah, now I am getting the hang of it! In this sketch, I was able to capture the full image and everything I wanted to remember, but there is also a bit of detailing. What I did was sketch out what I like to call “the bones” first, which is the outline of the image. Once the bones are in place, I went in and added the details that were important to get the idea across. So you can see that I didn’t bother drawing all the bricks in this house, but there’s a good idea of what the house is supposed to look like.
(Copied from the book Houses by the Sea. These house books are random books I just grabbed from my local library!)
I did something different for this one because when I chose the image that I wanted to copy (incredible illustration by Jim Kay in Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic), I knew immediately that the details are the most important aspect of this illustration. So I decided to work on this copy sketch for three consecutive 15-minute sketch sessions. You can see the process throughout the three days on this Instagram post.
Okay, you may be wondering why I’m drawing so many houses right now. I’m working on a personal project, which I hope to share about once it’s more developed. But one of the things I love about doing these copy sketches is that I get to study a certain subject through pencil drawings. I love discovering little details about something that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought up if I was making it up in my head.
(This unique little house is from the Big Book of Small House Designs.)
DAYS 16 & 18
I skipped several days here, because those sketches are mainly of houses and buildings, but I do sketch things other than houses! I think these two sketches here are so interesting because it shows what can be accomplished in 15 minutes, depending on what the focus is.
By this time, I’m also starting to apply a bit of my own style to some sketches, and I do a little bit of that here in the top sketch. I love all the details in this Leviathan Axe from The Art of God of War, so I added them in. And then 15 minutes was up, and I didn’t even get to the handle. Whoops.
I figured it would be interesting to attempt a full sketch of the axe in 15 minutes, so a couple days later, I copied the same image but incorporated more of what the full axe looks like. Now if I ever wanted to draw my own axe, I can consult this sketch for the details and the overall shape!
I am so happy that I found a way to get more into drawing, and it’s something that I look forward to every day now. What’s great is that this little daily warmup has made it so that I can doodle ideas in my sketchbook or journal at any time of the day. It used to be that I would be so hesitant to draw because of this huge process that came before it – setting up, coming up with an idea, attempting to achieve perfection…
But because I’m getting more sketchy (not in the suspicious character sense!) and have a better understanding of not needing everything to be perfect, I can do a totally ugly 3-minute sketch to get my idea on paper to refer to in the future.
I’ll post an update on this 100 Day Project soon, but if you want to keep up with the daily postings, I actually started using Instagram Stories! It’s a good way to simplify this project, because I haven’t had the time to do photo shoots for each of these sketches. IG Stories lets me take a not-so-pretty photo that I can share with you all. So pop on over to my IG Stories if you want to check out what I am drawing each day!