Things are a few things I've learned trying to do warmup sketches using a pencil and paper:
1. Sketches on paper look a lot better on paper than they do on a computer, tablet, etc.
2. Sketching with a pencil involves a LOT of erasing with an eraser.
3. There is no easy way to clean up lots and lots of eraser bits.
4. Sketching on an iPad is MUCH cleaner.
So I am going to stick to my same requirements (two minutes to draw, three minutes to color) for my daily warmup sketches, but I am going to move the process over to an iPad using Procreate, both of which are pretty awesome.
I'm not sure either the hardware or the software will improve my art at all, but at least I won't have to keep wiping little bits of rubber off my notebook, pants, couch, coffee table, etc.
A lot of people ask me, "Hey Mike, where do all of your ideas come from?"
To which I reply, "Your mom," and then I throw in a knowing wink.
As funny as that is to ME each time I say it, it's not the truth. And like the truth, sometimes fiction is less stranger than... that truth... or whatever.
Anyway, back to the voices in my head.
The truth is that most of my ideas, the good ones anyway, come from voices I hear in my head.
Are you feeling slightly uncomfortable about that last statement?
(not about your mom... the other one)
Well you should, but not for the reasons you think.
Usually when I tell people that I hear voices I get stunned looks and slow, backward walks but the sad truth is that most people are either unwilling or incapable of connecting with their own inner voice that talks to them all the time.
This is why creatives are asked the same question from non-creatives over and over again.
"Where do your ideas come from?"
Responses like, "I get inspired by the world around me," or "I ask 'what if' questions," or "I think of a time when..." fall flat because they usually aren't true.
The creative knows it. They hear the voices. That's why they're creative.
The non-creative knows it too. They don't/won't listen to the voices. That's why they're non-creative.
So how can you become more creative?
By trusting the voice in your head.
Hopefully it's your own internal voice. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's ghosts or animal spirits.
Even if the voices aren't yours you should follow them. At the very least you'll be a lot more interesting.
Write, draw, paint, knit, latch hook, glue, bedazzle, and otherwise do whatever creative activities the voices tell you.
Just know this...
When you finally begin to listen to the voices you're very quickly going to shut them out again because a lot of what you create will be garbage. And that's okay!
You were garbage at walking when you were a toddler.
You were garbage at coloring when you got your first box of Crayons.
You are garbage at everything until you spend enough time being bad at it.
And then you'll be good at it.
And if you spend enough time being good at it, you get to be great at it.
There's a universal truth that creatives get past but non-creatives don't:
Creating something bad is still better than consuming something someone else made.
With a little practice and a little time some of what you create will be good, and that's great.
With a little more practice some of the things you create will be great, and that's fantastic because THOSE are the things you can then develop into something special.
I have another secret for you. That voice? It's been with you always. It's been whispering "what if" and "why not" and "kiss her/him" and "don't be so hard on yourself" your entire life.
You voice is your muse and your muse is you. So you should listen to it. Always.
Mine whispers to me to tell silly stories and draw silly pictures.
Yours is the one that's been cheering and applauding and shouting whenever you create something no matter what it is or how it turns out.
How do I know?
Because your mom told me. (wink)
But how do I really know?
Because that voice is the thing that led you here and, if you're willing to listen to it a little more it will take you where you've always wanted to go.
And don't listen to anyone or anything other than that voice... your voice...your muse...
...and of course, me.
Nope. Not good.
It's weird but the sketches look better in my notebook than they do here.
I outlined the pencil with a Sharpie to make the edges more crisp, or at least stand out better. I think that might have something to do with it. Or it could be the specific and limited color pencil palette I chose for this page. Or it's all of it. Or none of it.
Either way, I don't like it so back to the drawing book.
Maybe tomorrow I'll try warm-up sketching with a single subject instead of going for lots of different ones...
Nothing to see here.
Just some warm-up sketches I do before I draw a bunch of other stuff that usually all end up looking a lot like my warm-up sketches anyway.
So that got me thinking... what if I start tracking my warm-up sketches over time? Will they improve more quickly if I'm being intentional about them?
I have no idea.
But I'll let you know somewhere between the next ten to one hundred posts.
I started out sketching a red ghost, then a yellow Eugene Levy-looking ghost, then aliens?
And then Halloween ghost aliens.
Makes perfect sense...
Okay. Last one...
Instead of replicating and/or color correcting popular picture book art using vector graphics, I wanted to try and merge two of my favorite characters, Gerald McGrew and Little Elliott, from two of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss and Mike Curato!
It's hard to tell the difference from a distance, although when you zoom in there are plenty of discrepancies in line weight, color and even shapes. But the overall effect is pretty good, I think!
Okay. I think it might be time to admit defeat.
For the last few weeks I've been working on my Inkscape vector art skills by taking the original artwork of my favorite children's illustrators and trying to recreate them in a digital medium. And while most of the time things work out great, for heavily hand-drawn or hand-painted works like the one from my friend Ludwig Bemelmans here... it's a challenge.
I usually set an informal timeline of no longer than a couple of days to complete any particular work but this one has taken weeks to just get this far. And while I know I can definitely get it to a state of "pretty good" I'm also an incompetent enough artist to know when I am simply out of my league.
I'll never get anywhere near as good as the original, and that's fine. That's what makes Bemelman's work so iconic. If it was easy to replicate there would be lots of other books out there illustrated in the same way.
So while I may be admitting defeat for this particular challenge I learned a LOT while trying to figure out how to digitally recreate a beautiful painting. So in a way, maybe I'm a little more competent (or at least a little less incompetent) than I was before.
And that's really the point of the whole exercise. To practice, to learn, to improve, and to try again.
This site is a place where