Learning curve.

I’m a bit under the weather as I’ve not seen much progress in my work.  The drawings remain almost the same from when I just started to where I am now.  I admit that my confidence with simple pencil and paper have grown and that’s showing in my work, but the poses, the core value of them, remain the same.

So I see this as a problem.
I now know where I want to go, but I don’t feel nor see much difference in how I work.

With this in mind, I started scouting the internet.  There, most if not all artists say the same thing “Practice, practice, practice.”  But practice what?

I’m confident in my anatomy, proportions are good and everything is connected as it should be.
“Learn from reference.”
This was another way what most artists seem to say.  But learning from reference, in my case, means see the pose and draw it… Which is what I am doing and have been doing through out. Yet I still have this issue.
So I turned to ways in which artists in Asia work.  When I was in China, seeing the work of the students there was miles and miles apart from what I was doing.  Their knowledge of anatomy, form, line-weight all of that was godlike compared to what I produce.  With this in mind, I tried to find how they work.. Which was hard to say the least.

Due to the firewall of China, not many artists there are able to share their work on the typical media sites that the western civilization use, and those who do share only their final product but not the process of how they practice or work.
Then I turned to twitter, knowing that I was following some Chinese and Korean artists there, I was sure that I had found something about a way of practice a few months back.

It was a large stack of drawings that was posted by a Korean artist, one every page there was the same drawing, over and over and over again.  A torso, hands, arms, forearms, shoulders, knees, calves, legs, fingers, so so soooo many fingers and hands..

I think.. I think that the practice that most artists talk about is to be repetitive. Drawing the same thing over and over again to a point that it becomes normal to you.

I decided to turn to my mentor, an artist who I’ve been following for years who was now offering mentorship and I was lucky enough to snatch a spot.

Previously, she assigned me homework to work on my values.  To do this she wanted me to take a reference (she’s a portrait painter) of a photo and drawing the same picture within 5 minutes. The final two pieces were 10 minutes and then the last one I could spend all the time on I needed.


She wanted me to think of shapes when drawing.  To think in simple shades and shapes to build up the drawing.  As you can see in the picture above, The first one I went in as I typically do, draw a head, a neck, eyes, hair.. and then the time was up.  The second one I approached differently, starting with the shirt and then the head, but started with the values too soon and ran out of time.  The third one was a bit of a combination of the first two but still not there.  I sat back, frowning at what I had created.  I was unhappy with the outcome, I didn’t have enough time, I could’ve done better, all that went through my head, just self criticizing myself into a crippled state. I tried again.  This time I started with the larger values that I could see.  The grey background, the black shirt and hair, ‘white’ face and black eyebrows.  This seemed to help me a lot.  So I tried again.  This time, because I already knew about the larger shapes, I was able to spend more time on the face, even though it had less values in it, I felt that I was getting there.  Eventually, the last picture was me putting all of that which I had done before into practice and now, because I had all the time I needed, I was able to focus more on values.

If this works with portraits, why wouldn’t it work with life drawings? Taking a reference and drawing it over and over again with a small amount of time to do so?  To understand the shapes and correct where I need to correct to then try again?


This is what they do in the artschool in China, so why shouldn’t I try the same thing? It worked with my portrait homework.

I see this as a massive learning curve.  Analyzing my work whilst working on the same pose over and over again, to know exactly what I am drawing and where I am lacking, learning from the mistakes I’ve made and really getting to know the model’s pose.

For the next week this is what I will be focusing on, submit the work to my course leader to see what she thinks of this new plan of approach.  I’ve read the books, the practice that I’ve been doing so far clearly hasn’t given me the outcome that I wanted, I know my goal that I want to achieve and I really hope that this is the way to get there.



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