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A Sketchbook a Month?

30 May

Drawing: I’ve heard many times that artists should fill a sketch book a month. How do you find the inspiration to draw all the time or be creative on command?

I’d be really impressed with an artist that filled a sketchbook every month.  I fill about one a year.  The most honest answer I can give to “How do you find the inspiration to draw all the time” is that you don’t.  You just create a habit of drawing, and you draw even when you are not inspired.  When one does this, one will find that she is inspired more often.  It’s easier said than done, of course.

In response to the second question, I have a few things to say.  Firstly it is not necessary to be creative to draw.  You can copy other drawings, and you can copy photographs, and you can draw things you see in real life.  Doing this is not cheating, and it can help you develop valuable skills.  These drawings may not be ideal for exhibiting or selling, but they are useful practice.  Just like athletics or performing music, drawing requires practice.  Okay… that’s all well and good, you may be saying, but what if I want to be creative all the time?  Well, being creative is about having ideas, and the best outline for how to have ideas that I’ve seen is this.

A 5-Step Technique for Producing Ideas circa 1939

This method was laid out by an advertising man in a book that was published around 1939.  It’s still relevant today.


The Hardest Part

26 May

So, recently, I started an account on a website called Quora, where you can ask and answer questions.  Here is one of those questions.

What is the hardest part when you start drawing?

When you draw or design and face trouble what do you think you need at that moment to help you overcome the situation?

The hardest part of drawing as a beginner is dealing with frustration.  Your drawings won’t come out as well as you would like, and it will be difficult to overcome that frustration and persist in your drawing.  Persistence and dedication, more than anything else will make you a better artist, and allow you to develop your own point of view.

As a beginning artist, you are very likely to think “I can picture this perfectly in my head vividly and perfectly, but I just can’t get it onto the paper”  While this thought feels true, it most likely isn’t.  Before you devote yourself to drawing, you haven’t really learned to look closely at the visual surfaces of things.  Your imagination is also a lot less visual than you think.  As you continue to pursue visual art, your imagination will become more visual.  By the way, the problem where your skill level doesn’t allow you to recreate what’s in your head?  That problem will most likely never go away.  But you can, over time and with effort, close the gap a little.


Insomniac Blog Reading.

27 Oct

Boy am I glad that it’s Saturday.  I’ve passed a sleepless night, and I am just now passing through to the other side.  Right now, my thoughts are suddenly accompanied the sunlit view outside my window.  Right now, my thoughts are suddenly accompanied by the dim awareness that at this particular moment, ‘normal’ people are now joining me in consciousness.  I’m a night owl by nature, but due to my job I wake up at 5:30 every weekday.  I could easily stay up late every one of those 5 days, but I try not to, because at the age of 29, the effects of a late night (even more so when it’s followed by a workday) are MUCH greater than they were at the age of 22.  So anyway, I passed a sleepless night.  Not because of any worry or stress, but because of a series of bad decisions.  Let me list them.

1. Taking a nap after work.  I was tired, but I shouldn’t have hit the hay as earlier as I did.  Anything earlier than 7-8ish is risky.
2. After waking up from that nap, I didn’t go back to sleep within 2 hours.  I’ve learned, that if I miss that magic 2 hour window, I will become fully awake and alert, and and that point, I’m spinning the roulette wheel.  But anyway I did it.  I had laundry that I just had to do, and I had to go to the video store, and then I had to make a lengthy call to a close friend.  On of the ‘fun’ components of living with my ADD is poor impulse control.  If I always live with the conviction (or the reality?  maybe.) that if I don’t something NOW I won’t do it ever.  Yeah.  Who’s got poor planning ability?  yeah, this guy.
3. Bad food choices.  If I stay up long enough, I get hungry.  I made myself a PBJ.  Which is okay.  But I was still kinda hungry, so I had two burritos and a lot of cheese.  Worst idea of MY LIFE.  Let’s just say that by the time I actually got tired, I had a stomach that was so obnoxiously unsettled, it was impossible to sleep.

So anyway – I spent the night listening to podcasts, trying to read Morrison’s Animal Man comics from the 80s, watching youtube music videos so I could test and see if the buzz around Frank Ocean is deserved, and to make sure I wasn’t confusing Drake songs with Kid Cudi ones.  Or Kanye West ones.  I feel like I also did a million other little things.

During the night I also did some blog reading -from one of my favorite bloggers, David Brothers, who writes out his thoughts at  There are a couple of blog posts there which were soo good, I just had to share them.  Those 2 posts are the reason I decided to write this post at all.

The first one was sparked by a news report of an alleged worker riot/disturbance at a Foxconn Factory in Taiyuan, China.  This was originally reported on September 2012.  Read the blog post HERE> Foxconn Riots: “Tell-Lie-Vision distorts your vision”.    I’ve gathered up the choice quotes; these are the ones that grabbed me.

“The impression is that Apple is the biggest offender here, and those other guys are small time in comparison.  Here’s a list of Foxconn clients I pulled off Wikipedia: Acer Inc.,, Apple Inc., Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nintendo, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio.

They’re ALL compromised and we’re all compromised by extension. Not just Apple. A significant number of personal electronics are made at Foxconn. That Kindle you bought your mom, your old Nokia flip, that blu-ray player you watch your HD porno on… the poison has deep roots. I’m writing this post on a MacBook. I just went for a run using an iPod Nano. I was watching youtubes earlier on my Sony Google TV box-thing. I was reading comics on my iPad last night.  I benefit from the exploitation of others, we all do. And I think this style of journalism actually hurts awareness of that.”

This is a sobering thought, but it’s worth thinking about.  Those of us in the first-world that benefit from the wonders of consumer electronics, don’t consider the societal costs of these products and the global economic system they come out of.  These societal costs can hit hard for the people in the third world that actually assemble these wonders of plastic, anodyized aluminum, gorilla glass and silicon. We don’t think about that.  And maybe we should.  At least, I think so.

From there he makes a leap to some thoughts about the way this kind of journalism works.

“This type of thing shows that even factual reporting is a game, whether it’s the news gleefully playing along and encouraging the Obama birth certificate controversy or… do you remember the shooting at the Empire State Building a few weeks back? It was immediately termed a mass shooting and the think pieces started rolling out about gun control and how we’re messed up as a country. Turns out, the mass shooting was actually one guy shooting one other guy and then being killed by the police, who also managed to shoot nine bystanders in the process. It’s not the mass shooting that anyway said it was.

Meanwhile, nineteen people were shot in Chicago that weekend, a number that they match week after week after week. But that’s not marketable enough to go above the fold. It’s sad. Complex did a horrifying memorial for the teenagers who’ve died in Chicago this summer. “Between the first of June and the 31st of August, 152 people were killed. Of those, 38 were teenagers.” Scary, right?”

I don’t know what I can add to that.  I think it’s dead on-target.

The other post by David Brothers is on a much different wavelength.  While I was casting around for ways to use up my hours of insomnia, I watched a popular R-rated comedy that along with the jokes, awkwardness, and gross-out gags, had interspersed moments of heartfelt drama.  It was quite well-done, and the moments where the movie had a MESSAGE, and the characters had to face their life, hit me like a ton of bricks.  I mean they demolished me.  I identified with the character soo much, and What they were going through felt like exactly what i’ve been going through for a while, for 10 months, at least.  I cry easily at movies, and the label of something being a ‘comedy’ is no protection for me. (This is especially the case when I am over-tired, confused by a late afternoon nap, and unable to sleep.  Haha, oviously, right?)  The second David Brothers article I’m mentioning here relates to this experience.  He talks about a comic story available online (Boxes by Dustin Harbin) and the effect it had on him.  You can read the article HERE > Dustin Harbin’s “Boxes” Is Real Talk. Here’s the money quote, at least for me:

“I read Boxes and I get that weird bad/good feeling that you get from watching movies or reading books that make you cry. It’s sort of like the feeling I associate with horror movies, a “Bad things are about to happen” type of foreboding, but with the benefit of knowing there’s an answer at the end, or if it not an answer, confirmation that you aren’t alone. A creeping/comfortable feeling, maybe, or brutalized/validated.

The bad feelings that you get from the work, the lumps in your throat and identification you feel, hurt, but they also confirm that someone else is feeling what you feel.”

Go read that post.  And go read Boxes.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.  As for me, I think I’m going to get some sleep.