100 hands, 100 feet

For 6 weeks I have not drawn which has been a welcome break, but I am increasingly aware of how rusty my drawings skills are becoming. If I start to practice now then my eye hand coordination ought to be back relatively quickly, but leave it much longer and it will become a gargantuan task. So the question is what to do next?

A daily drawing practice seems to be a topic that comes up a lot. I have tried this in the past, but never managed to maintain it for long. Day to day life presents me with the same familiar things, so finding something I actually want to draw and half an hour to draw it in is difficult to maintain. Matthew Brehm stresses the importance of a daily drawing practice; he suggests that making multiple thumbnails has a greater effect on drawing skills than making one more sustained drawing.

Steve Wilkin draws his fellow commuters, but working from home, I have no commute. Melanie Reim instructs her students to draw 100 hands and 100 feet every week, good practice as hands and feet are particularly unforgiving. I have seen her in lectures with the pages of her sketchbook divided into squares in which she makes quick thumbnail sketches. I think this is an excellent idea, however, I live in a rural area and I doubt I see that many hands and feet in a week, let alone get the chance to draw them.

I could create a daily journal, drawing some significant part of the day and perhaps writing a brief diary entry, but in the past when I have tried this I have waited all day for something significant to reveal itself, only to find myself late at night drawing my drying laundry just for the sake of making a drawing. A boring exercise which leads to boring drawings. I am not ready to commit to another long term sustained project yet, and I find it difficult to draw without some purpose, to me that feels like mindlessly filling up bits of paper. I am still undecided as to what my daily drawing practice should be – any suggestions?

 

Scillies sketchbooks

My sketchbooks are dog-eared, stained, and covered in dribbles of ink and paint, but the stories and memories they contain make them precious to me. The turn of a page makes connections between images and creates a narrative. Which is why I never tear out the drawings I don’t like, even the failed ones add something valuable.

Despite loving sketchbooks I rarely work in them now, preferring the practicality of a drawing board and loose sheets of paper. Working outside is always a challenge without the difficulties of waiting for paint to dry before I can turn the page and start my next drawing. I scan all my images, but scanning sketchbooks is awkward and I always end up with dark shadows from the gutter.

For all these reasons, sketchbooks often seem impractical, but when I went on holiday to the Scilly Isles in February, I wanted to indulge my love of sketchbooks. I decided to try a twin sketchbook approach. I would work in one sketchbook and then bulldog clip the spread open to dry, while I made my next drawing in the second sketchbook. These are the results.