Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Draw what you see

So coloured pencil week is over and I’m back to my learning to sketch class which is phenomenally well put together BUT also horrendously boring at times.   It really is from scratch so there’s lots of shading circles to turn them into spheres and drawing apples etc.  And while I both 100% see the need and the reason for it, I also sometimes find it tediously boring.   Watched a YouTube the other day about a guy who spent 100 hours learning to draw “from scratch” (wife is a pro artist so he had a custom built program and pro coaching along the way) and I was mildly amused that he was just as bored as I was and had all the same exercises (although he started slightly better than I did - albeit not by much).  AND ended up really decent.  So I have hope.  He said about hour 30 it started to be less painful and about hour 60 it started to be enjoyable 😂 

So maybe there’s hope.  So far I’ve done:

YouTube (and book) Follow Along tutorials.  These were a good start and helped me get a feel for certain things, and, of course, instant gratification.  But they don’t help w actual learning.   Like the skills weren’t highly transferable to my own work.


Also - I want colour!   😂 so I did Coloured Pencil week which was awesome.  And then back down the YouTube rabbit hole cause it turns out there are a ton of artists who just teach colouring?!?!    Who knew?   So when I want “easy” learning I do one of those (I even bought a colouring book?!?) cause it’s helping me expand on coloured pencil week with layering, colour theory (I may or may not have also acquired a book for that), techniques, etc.


That, however, is also frustrating cause I can spend HOURS on something and work really hard on it and be mildly impressed w the outcome and still feel like it’s “just colouring”.  Sigh.  Baby steps.


So today I had gathered all my supplies, sat down, had done one of my drawing class exercises and was pleased w it, then one that was brutal but got better - in which I was pleased I made it less-bad 😂. So overall a pretty good mood.  But for the next section I needed my laptop which was upstairs.  And both Tucker and Nola were sleeping on me, so obviously I couldn’t move (completely trapped by a blanket being held down w a pet on either side).   I wasn’t quite ready to close up for the night but any and all reference material was out of reach :(


Except….  I mean, the whole point of this is to just draw right?   So while it’s fast and basic - I’m pretty happy w this beginner sketch of my sleeping critters from the viewpoint I had, with no how tos, measuring, or anything else.   I’d put it in the “5 min sketch” category (or maybe 10 cause there’s two critters).  Except that most of the sketches I’ve done from my 5 min sketches book take me 20-30 so yeah.  It’s not fast, but I enjoy it, and I’d argue this time both animals are reasonably recognizable :).  I’ll take the wins where I can find them!


When your tiny animals work together,
they can trap you using only a blanket!



Trying to learn two unrelated skills? Why not practice them together? ;-P

Right, so I was flipping through YouTube to find a drawing tutorial for the night (I'm taking a course but it requires more brainpower - YouTube usually delivers that quick hit of "finished product" endorphins ;) and thought I'd go back to the original driver of dragons.   However, I couldn't find any I really liked, but I did find a lion that looked good.  

When I clicked through to the video, the instruction was good, but the person was definitely new-ish to English and I couldn't tell if his accent was Spanish or Italian -- until he happened to mention he had the same video in Spanish.   So I went to his channel and while English videos are a new endeavour for him, he has a TON of Spanish ones.   And one I just LOVED and it was like 20 mins.  Perfect.

Okay so just to put in perspective - 20 min videos even in English usually take me at least an hour.  Sometimes more.  And this drawing...   well, suffice to say it's well beyond my current capabilities.   But I wanted it.   And so down the rabbit hole I jumped.

20 min video - that showed start to finish him drawing the same picture he was teaching, took me about 3h.  Maybe 2.5 given a quick "walk Sasha around the block" and a few other minor things that came up.  And I would've placed it at about 45 min.  I really lose time when I'm drawing, but I kinda love that because it's the ultimate "in the moment".    Now, let's put this in perspective.

1 - the first 3 mins of his drawing took me about 20.  It involved drawing a person.  I have never drawn a person before.  The first effort got scrapped and I started over. All good learning but wow so slow.

2 - It's FULLY possible that he filmed it first and then sped up the drawing with a voice over.  There was no time lapse that some you-tube artists use, but he was SUPER-FAST.  Speaking in Spanish and drawing faster than he spoke.   Which means I feel justified that it was taking me longer ;) 

3 - And it was more of a follow along so the language wasn't super necessary, although it certainly did add extra value it wasn't critical to understand to be able to execute the drawing.  But that also means there was no instruction beyond trying to mirror what he was doing (which conveniently applies the same techniques as in my sketching class - win!).

4 - I can understand Spanish or I can draw.  I cannot do both at the same time.  (I also cannot read out loud in Spanish and understand what I said, or listen in Spanish and write notes at the same time).   So basically I'm at the level where I can follow most things barring extreme speed or accents - both of which pro YouTubers tend to avoid - BUT, it takes 100% of my attention.   So at very least, I had to watch/listen, and then replicate.  Sometimes more than once.

5 - I've drawn some very cool animals (all with the help of YouTube) and some average things either by myself or with books, but I've never done a person, or a landscape...   And this picture?  It was a fairy looking at the sea (or some random body of water at least).  I HAVE at least drawn butterfly wings before -- that was how the teacher recommended thinking of it 😂.  And the landscape part was pretty simple.  And I've done hair before and for some reason disproportionately enjoy it.   So sure, why not?

Tomorrow am is why not.  But for tonight, it's still all good :).  In the end, I'm thrilled with what I did.  I'd like to do it again, with colour (which is not on the video so I'd be all on my own - scary!).  And I'm disproportionately pleased that both I found a channel I like in Spanish AND that it was essentially a non-issue.   All round, it's been a long time since I've had a 3am night for anything other than work or stress, and it's put me solidly in my happy place.

The end result makes me wonder what is she thinking?  What is she watching for?
I want to tell her story, but now it's bedtime.
Credit to the original artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn3FVT3PEkw


Coloured Pencil Week

So Coloured Pencil Week with the Bonny Snowdon Academy was an adventure.  I learned more than my little brain could take in and I really enjoyed it.  And I was super proud of my "cumulating" project ;).   The focus of the academy is realistic drawing w coloured pencils.   Their work that group turns out is nothing shy of stunning.  However, they also have a collection of material for us beginners ;)

I knew going in that we would learn to draw a cat's eye, a dog's nose, some fur, and an otter.   One of the things I wasn't expecting though, was the whole focus really was colour.  As in to the point of providing you a sketch to trace.  In all cases I used the sketch provided to make mine occur, but the only one I actually *traced* was the dog's nose, mostly cause I was lazy that day and in a hurry ;).  The otter I would've traced just for the sheer overwhelmingness of the project (a scheduled FOUR hours of drawing?!?!) but I wanted to use the "real" coloured pencil paper (still not the stuff they use, but the one I found at Michaels that was aptly named "coloured pencil paper" 😂) and it is too think to trace through even if I'd wanted to.   My sketchbook, however, is not - so I traced the nose.  The eye I've done several variants before and, let's be honest, cat's eyes are as simple to freehand as it gets.   And the fur was just a few squiggly lines on a paper - I figured I could make that up as I went along ;)

There were 5 days of live drawing classes and two days of pre-recorded miscellaneous videos: one about materials which I watched but had actually learned most of from YouTube already and the other about mindset which I half-watched on fast forward, but isn't really my thing.   The actual drawing ones though were excellent.  Unfortunately these were at 7pm UK time, which meant 2pm our time, which meant I only got to go to one (and was lucky about that one); they were posted a few hours later though so I did DO every one of them.   The wknd ones were slightly earlier, but I wasn't prepared for the first one and it wasn't a convenient time, so I made the executive decision I'd watch those on repeat.  

It's a REALLY good thing I did, because there was a lot of watching closely, pausing, trying to replicate.  And that "long" four hours???   Oh my sweet summer child.   It took me closer to 10.   And I really didn't notice.   Which, I've discovered before, this new hobby is one that I can fall into the zone and not come out of for a very long time - the only thing other than writing I've ever experienced that with.  Which is a mental health and interest win, but a productivity fail ;-P

I did a thing!
Also - I used 17 colours to make this little guy?!?!

I also discovered I have no interest in full realism.   I want to get to the point that I can both draw and colour something that people can identify, but it doesn't need to look indistinguishable from a photograph.  I probably already have the photograph ;-P.  I AM super-impressed that other people can do that with pencil crayons?!?!   Like completely mind-boggling.   But it is not something I'm inclined to do - at least not right now.  Maybe when I retire ;-P

So in the course I learned a lot about layering, drawing what you see, not what you think is there (although for the life of me I still don't know how they see some of the colours in the fur (17 colours - I'm not exaggerating; and the instructor was lamenting that she hadn't added more to the list)  It all works out in the end, but my eye isn't trained that well yet!), different types of pencil marks to achieve different effects, a tiny bit on blending, some colour theory (super important to me cause I never know what colours to pick!), lots about values (light and dark) and they basically drilled home that if your values are right, the colour doesn't particularly matter.

I learned a ton, it was a super experience, but the actual academy is probably not the right fit for me at this particular moment.  The instructor is a lovely human though and if anyone DOES want to learn it, I'd highly recommend.   She's got a strong business going and very much runs it as a business, which was refreshing to see.  

I AM, however, taking a sketching basics course (all prerecorded) to learn to draw (rather than colour) that I'm getting a ton out of.  It's more the level I need right now.   More on that if/when I actually finish it.  It got paused for this one cause this one was only open for a week.