A year of nothing, structure and order
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    A year of nothing, structure and order

    So I have at least a year of being unemployed and not in full or part time education. I want to fill this year with non stop drawing, but I'm not sure how, or if I even can, structure my study, and in what order to study things in (perspective and anatomy first, then when does colour theory and digital painting come in etc). Should I have a rigid schedule, something like 9-5, or should I just wake up, work, take breaks for food and work through the night? Is there such thing as overworking, or a point where your brain just doesn't learn anymore for the day?

    I'm considering going to figure drawing sessions, I know of one on Fridays and one on Wednesdays, should I go to both or is that excessive? They're so close to each other time-wise as well. Should I schedule and order my study around those sessions? Should I make a detailed term plan of all the books and exercises to go through? I'm a little overwhelmed. Thanks

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    This is one of those times where only you know the answer. If you draw all of the time, are you going to get burnt out? It's always easy to start gung-ho in the beginning and, when things (outside of art) start piling up, you lose the routine.

    I would recommend that you set yourself a reasonable goal for what you would like to achieve by the end of the year. From there, pick x month intervals for smaller goals. Once you know what you want to achieve and when, then you can figure out how many drawing sessions to do, what type of work to do, etc....

    For me, one long-term goal with a lot of short-term goals makes me more productive. Also, the long term goal can't be: "I want to be a better artist". It has to be something concrete like "I want to do portraits and have the drawing look reasonably close to my model" or "I want to paint mountains and have them look realistic", etc...

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    I would definitely take advantage of both life drawing sessions. Don't put energy toward working out the machinations of some rigid schedule - just do what you can and work on things you want to work on. If it isn't fun why do it?

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    Thank you for your suggestions

    Yeah I'm afraid of burnout, however a professional artist will be working a lot as well, so either I can handle that workload or I shouldn't bother pursuing this, that's my logic anyway. But of course I don't want to be too optimistic. Maybe some experimentation would help me figure out the quantity of work.

    Goals eh, well I'm not quite sure what can be achieved in a year, or how long short term goals will take to complete, everyone has different paces when it comes to learning, no? I don't know my own pace or what is involved in, say learning anatomy. How long does that take? Also, I don't know how my skills are now after over a year of not drawing (I guess that's easy to find out). If there is a goal to this year of drawing, it's simply to improve as much as possible in everything. Is this a bad mindset?

    JeffX99 - So I will probably go to both then. So now the plan seems to be:
    - Go to life drawing Wednesdays and Fridays
    - Some other time in the week, go to the national portrait gallery to draw some busts/sculptures, or the Armoury at the Wallace collection to draw armour/weapons from life
    - every day, until tired, work my way through the various exercises and books (but in what order?) I think I'll start with just gesture drawings, a bit of Loomis and some other anatomy books, lines, perspective, shading, drawing from imagination, and then introduce other things (but what, and in what order) I know I won't touch the wacom tablet until I know what I'm doing with a pencil but that's the extent of my plan order wise

    I will definitely keep that in mind, drawing shouldn't become a chore, or work-work

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    Goals are pretty easy: You've got to ask yourself some questions:

    1) Why do you want to be an artist?
    2) Are you looking to do illustration work for games, books, fine art, etc?
    3) Are you wanting to draw because you like drawing and have a free year?
    3) Are you still in the phase where you don't know what you like to draw? Do you like still life? Figurative? Abstract? Representative? etc....

    The point is, without a clear goal in mind, you could spend a year floundering and bouncing around a lot of different things and never get any where.

    As usual, I would recommend painting/drawing from still life or life drawing. You could spend the year getting the basics down (which is always a good idea). This would be a goal: "At the end of the year, I plan to have the basics down to be able to draw a reasonable likeness of whatever I'm interested in".

    Like Jeff said, I would also take advantage of both figure drawing sessions (if you like figure drawing). Personally, I prefer landscapes, so I spend most of my time doing plein-air work. A lot of it is based on what type of art you are interested in doing. If you don't know (that's fine), then you spend the year experimenting... but, at least, get down the basics.

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    Hmmm...already sounding like a chore to me...and you sound glum about it. There isn't any "order" or right thing and all that. That would be math.

    The only real guideline is that drawing from life will teach you what you need to work on...the answers you're looking for really come from engaging in the activity. It's all about the half dozen or so fundamentals...composition, value, accurate drawing/perspective, volume, edges and texture...that's all there is to it.

    I'd recommend "Drawing Essentials" by Deborah Rockman as a really good book to give you some structure to follow and some idea on process.

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    Doug Hoppes - Ah, ok, well my answer to those questions would be:

    1) Because I have a lot of visual stories in my head that I would like to express, and it's fun
    2) Illustration for games and movies, and I have a slight interest in animation but I'm not really sure about that right now
    3) I like drawing, or more accurately, I like the outcome of drawing more than the process, but the process is fun too, it's a bit like puzzle solving. But that's not the sole reason why I'm drawing for a year, the reason is I want to become a professional level concept artist (not within a year though, this is a long term goal)

    What if it takes longer than a year to get the basics down and draw a likeness though? Then I will be discouraged at my level of progress. Unless you're suggesting an 'aiming for the moon and landing in the stars' approach?

    Figure drawing will be essential for what I want to draw/paint, as are environments, so I'll focus on those two, along with other things, equally

    JeffX99 - Really? I think I'm really looking forward to it actually, I'm itching to start drawing right this minute, but I have work to do until the end of June, at which point I'm free, I can't wait.

    That's interesting, it's the impression I get when reading about all the training methods, the Atelier system and whatnot. I get the feeling that if I don't master something first, then I won't understand/mess up the next thing in line, perhaps this is the wrong way of thinking about it then.

    I see, so I should draw from life, work on the fundamentals and go from there in terms of what I need to do, great, sounds uncomplicated

    Thanks, I'll definitely check that book out

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    I don't know what you're skill level is... However, If you're looking at doing this professionally, but feel that you aren't quite there yet in terms of the almost ridiculously high standards in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Consider some other options. There is a large number of illustrators out there who are making it. Most can't even draw better than my 7yr old. What I'm saying is you can get your practice in, yet also try to turn a profit in the process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lapprenti View Post
    I see, so I should draw from life, work on the fundamentals and go from there in terms of what I need to do, great, sounds uncomplicated
    Now, THAT sounds perfect! You know what your eventual goals are. Now, you know that you need to work on fundamentals for the next year. Now, you can figure out how to meet those goals...

    Yes, you're right... I never said that the goal at the end of the year was the end goal. It's just something to shoot for. If you make it, great... if not, then that's fine also... but, at least you've defined a path to get to that goal... rather than floundering around.

    It's okay to change your goals... everybody does... I do it a lot... but... I know that I love to do landscapes with surrealistic shapes in them. I also know that I love selling my paintings and would rather sell them directly than work for an illustration house, etc... That's my end goal. That gives me boundaries about what to focus on and where to put my energies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lapprenti View Post
    What if it takes longer than a year to get the basics down and draw a likeness though? Then I will be discouraged at my level of progress.
    This is kind of what I'm talking about...you're projecting failure..."what if I can't?" I'll be discouraged"...that kind of thing. Trust me, you may not be able to draw a likeness in a year....then again you may...I don't have any idea and neither do you actually. The fundamentals of art are definitley NOT learned in a year...but if you work hard you'll certainly make progress and be better than where you are now.

    So don't "vapor lock" before you start.

    Quote Originally Posted by lapprenti View Post
    That's interesting, it's the impression I get when reading about all the training methods, the Atelier system and whatnot. I get the feeling that if I don't master something first, then I won't understand/mess up the next thing in line, perhaps this is the wrong way of thinking about it then.
    Academic and atelier methods are very rigid and systematic. They are a means to an end...one particular end btw. They are effective because they micro-focus on very specific techniques to the exclusion of almost anything else. They can help one become an excellent draughtsman...over time, but that's about all.

    The things to work on "mastering" are those fundamentals I mentioned.
    Composition...form in space...value - those are the big three...everything after that is cake...or frosting, depends on how you look at it!

    Quote Originally Posted by lapprenti View Post
    I see, so I should draw from life, work on the fundamentals and go from there in terms of what I need to do, great, sounds uncomplicated
    Yep...it's actually quite simple...just takes a lifetime.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shorinji_Knight View Post
    I don't know what you're skill level is... However, If you're looking at doing this professionally, but feel that you aren't quite there yet in terms of the almost ridiculously high standards in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Consider some other options. There is a large number of illustrators out there who are making it. Most can't even draw better than my 7yr old. What I'm saying is you can get your practice in, yet also try to turn a profit in the process.
    Shorinki_Knight - Really, well I doubt I have any marketable skills For the purpose of this discussion I went ahead and did a little drawing, the first time in over a year, from photo reference. Sure enough I'm almost back to square one:



    You can see I don't really know what I'm doing. The angles and proportions are wrong, I'm making mistakes I'm not even aware of and it doesn't look like the reference. But, I know what to do about this, draw more and work on fundamentals

    I don't really think about the professional/money making side of it too much, usually I think of it in terms of "I want my worlds and characters to appear crystal clear and beautifully rendered when I draw and paint, and to do that I need to be at the level of a professional concept artist". If I manage to get to that level and have an audience for my work, probably online, this will satisfy me much more than a not very good illustration job, drawing whatever and with little skill

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hoppes View Post
    Now, THAT sounds perfect! You know what your eventual goals are. Now, you know that you need to work on fundamentals for the next year. Now, you can figure out how to meet those goals...

    Yes, you're right... I never said that the goal at the end of the year was the end goal. It's just something to shoot for. If you make it, great... if not, then that's fine also... but, at least you've defined a path to get to that goal... rather than floundering around.

    It's okay to change your goals... everybody does... I do it a lot... but... I know that I love to do landscapes with surrealistic shapes in them. I also know that I love selling my paintings and would rather sell them directly than work for an illustration house, etc... That's my end goal. That gives me boundaries about what to focus on and where to put my energies.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    This is kind of what I'm talking about...you're projecting failure..."what if I can't?" I'll be discouraged"...that kind of thing. Trust me, you may not be able to draw a likeness in a year....then again you may...I don't have any idea and neither do you actually. The fundamentals of art are definitley NOT learned in a year...but if you work hard you'll certainly make progress and be better than where you are now.

    So don't "vapor lock" before you start.
    I will keep this in mind, thanks

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    Hey Lapprenti also living in loNDON I would say that we are almost spoilt for choice in terms of subject matter for life drawing. i think your idea to go to the wallace collection is an ace one, i have been several times and its really great. Planning on heading to the British war museum too. There are so many galleries to chose from such as V&A which is great for classical sculpture and the British Museum.

    Not sure where you are in london but there is an interesting life drawing class based in Bethnal Green which i plan on joining in a few week when i am back from my travels. They meet on Mondays and Thursday eves and also offer concession rate session, I think you get 6 sessions for 3O which is pretty good if you ask me.

    I was in a simular situation to you in terms of thinking of developing a schedule as it tricky for me as I work full time so wanted to be really strict over my spare time. But I quickly realised its better to make a commitment to draw and draw a bit everuyday, I have noticed over time the amount of time I spen drawing daily has just naturally progresses as i got mre into it again and seen a bit of improvment.

    I think its better to craate a loist of things you need ir want to work on and as you work you will notive new things and be able to add those to the list. I think that has helped me craete a structure. i think coming out of full time education one can be so used to the regimented structure and think that the only way to learn, or who you should learn. The more relaxed you are about it all the less scary it will become and you will find a way of working that is natural for you.

    I would also second JeffX99 recommendation of "Drawing Essentials" by Deborah Rockman. I noticed he mentioned it a lot to people and brought my self a copy and its ace and not too expensive.

    I personally like the pic you posted you clearly know how to draw and things like proportions and accuracy you just need to keep working at and they will improve over time. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes thats why we have erasers, seriously draw as much as you can and just try and learn from each one and work through the things you need to learn and you will be off to a great start.

    Also start a sketchbook you will get regular feedback that way. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lapprenti View Post
    You can see I don't really know what I'm doing. The angles and proportions are wrong, I'm making mistakes I'm not even aware of and it doesn't look like the reference. But, I know what to do about this, draw more and work on fundamentals
    But, you are aware of the mistakes you made. You just mentioned that the angles and proportions are wrong. If this is the case...which angles and proportions?

    Try not to let this get you down...you are aware of your mistakes, so go ahead and do another and correct those mistakes This is a good start!

    PS...Sketchbook thread?

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    The Bethnal Green one is nice and has a good variety of models. There is also Crystal Palace - one model same pose for 3 weeks 10 for 2 hours - you have to be sharp on the time keeping though. Then there is The Life Drawing Society - Tony (who's nuts) has them all over London - most of the models are dancers and mainly young, shapely women prices vary from place to place. There are day ones as well. Also there's Candid Arts you need to get there early to get a good position as it can get busy.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    The Bethnal Green one is nice and has a good variety of models. There is also Crystal Palace - one model same pose for 3 weeks 10 for 2 hours - you have to be sharp on the time keeping though. Then there is The Life Drawing Society - Tony (who's nuts) has them all over London - most of the models are dancers and mainly young, shapely women prices vary from place to place. There are day ones as well. Also there's Candid Arts you need to get there early to get a good position as it can get busy.
    Not sure where you are in london but there is an interesting life drawing class based in Bethnal Green which i plan on joining in a few week when i am back from my travels. They meet on Mondays and Thursday eves and also offer concession rate session, I think you get 6 sessions for 3O which is pretty good if you ask me.
    Thanks for all the life drawing session suggestions, I'll definitely take a look at all of them. I'm also considering going to the mall galleries on Fridays for figure drawing, 215 for 48 sessions, which means each session is around 4.50

    Quote Originally Posted by ja1307 View Post
    Hey Lapprenti also living in loNDON I would say that we are almost spoilt for choice in terms of subject matter for life drawing. i think your idea to go to the wallace collection is an ace one, i have been several times and its really great. Planning on heading to the British war museum too. There are so many galleries to chose from such as V&A which is great for classical sculpture and the British Museum.

    I was in a simular situation to you in terms of thinking of developing a schedule as it tricky for me as I work full time so wanted to be really strict over my spare time. But I quickly realised its better to make a commitment to draw and draw a bit everuyday, I have noticed over time the amount of time I spen drawing daily has just naturally progresses as i got mre into it again and seen a bit of improvment.

    I think its better to craate a loist of things you need ir want to work on and as you work you will notive new things and be able to add those to the list. I think that has helped me craete a structure. i think coming out of full time education one can be so used to the regimented structure and think that the only way to learn, or who you should learn. The more relaxed you are about it all the less scary it will become and you will find a way of working that is natural for you.

    I would also second JeffX99 recommendation of "Drawing Essentials" by Deborah Rockman. I noticed he mentioned it a lot to people and brought my self a copy and its ace and not too expensive.

    I personally like the pic you posted you clearly know how to draw and things like proportions and accuracy you just need to keep working at and they will improve over time. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes thats why we have erasers, seriously draw as much as you can and just try and learn from each one and work through the things you need to learn and you will be off to a great start.

    Also start a sketchbook you will get regular feedback that way. Good luck.
    Those places sound great, thanks, I look forward to exploring them all, we are quite lucky

    that sounds like a sane and reasonable approach to knowing what to work on, and I'll certainly check out that book

    Yeah, I know I shouldn't be put off by mistakes. I'm planning on starting a sketchbook once I have the free time to start updating it regularly

    Quote Originally Posted by Damien Levs View Post
    But, you are aware of the mistakes you made. You just mentioned that the angles and proportions are wrong. If this is the case...which angles and proportions?

    Try not to let this get you down...you are aware of your mistakes, so go ahead and do another and correct those mistakes This is a good start!

    PS...Sketchbook thread?
    I meant that I'm sure that there are other kinds of mistakes apart from proportion/angles that I don't even know I'm making. Pretty much all of them seem dodgy to me, and trying to fix them just makes it worse, but yeah I won't let it get me down, I know the aim is to learn and not to draw well at this point. Thanks I'll definitely start a sketchbook thread and perhaps join in with all the other activities on this board once my Rocky training period starts

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