For those of you who follow me on instagram and who subscribe to my mailing list (if not, then you should 😛 ), you will probably have noticed that I’ve been spending a lot of time recently concentrating on my pointillism ink drawings. I thought it was about time I was very honest with this…I started the 100 days of drawing challenge, whereby the only rule is that you have to create one drawing per day for 100 days. That could be a doodle on a receipt, or a small masterpiece, as long as it’s one drawing each day. Now comes the honest part…I failed, miserably. Yet my downfall was somewhat of an inspiration: I really liked what I was drawing, and my drawings really pushed my artistic abilities and presented me with new inspiring challenges to overcome. I found that I was trying to draw animals that I have never attempted before, using techniques I had yet to invent, and I was choosing compositions that seemed daft to even try and accomplish. It was brilliant. I became very involved in each sketch, spending hours a day working at new techniques, and in turn completing one picture in one week, rather than in one day.
I think this has been a very important aspect of my artistic journey, learning that I pride myself in achieving one drawing of quality in a week rather than seven “OK” sketches; but also that I become easily consumed by my work. Each illustration became a small obsession, and nothing else really got done. For this reason, I don’t think I can say I’ve given up on the challenge entirely, I’ve just adapted it somewhat. I’m setting myself a new challenge! To create 100 drawings in one year. I hope that by this time next year, I have one hundred illustrations that I am pleased with, that mark my progress in a significant yet timely fashion. It may seem like a bit of a cop out but it would seem fair to say that I get far too involved in my artwork to effectively run all the other aspects of my business or life in general. It’s very difficult to draw one drawing a day when you’re already running a full time art business, trying to keep up with orders, meet deadlines, write blogs, newsletters, attend art fairs, and generally keep sane. It’s really not realistic when you become so intune with your drawing that anything outside of it’s progress get’s left behind. I just couldn’t leave it alone as a nice little sketch for the day.
By trying the 100 days of drawing challenge I actually found that I had the tools I needed to illustrate animals that I assumed would not look right with pointillism. I have always used pointillism to create dense textures like the wrinkled skin of an elephant’s trunk, or the smooth surface of a turtles shell. I always associated the nature of fur with soft pencil lines and subtle gradients of whole shading as opposed to the mottled effect of dotwork. When in fact, I found that delicate application of ink dots and randomised intervals of placement, allowed me to layer the textures I needed to create the soft tonal patterns of fur. If I applied this in various forms then I could create an effective contrast between short and long fur. I found that I could use a mixture of light balance and depth of detailing to convey movement that worked well for unconventional compositions (as illustrated by the fox’s posture).
Below are the two pieces that I have been experimenting with the most throughout my “failed” challenge. I still have some tweaks to do before I am satisfied with them. I know that I can improve my technique in the time to come, but I am very happy that I have developed ways to use pointillism for soft and subtle details as well as dense and coarse forms.
Once completed (if a drawing is ever actually “complete” I’m not sure I’ll ever know), I plan on offering both the wolf and fox as limited edition giclee prints, and open edition tote-bags. For now though, I will return to pyrography for a while, as I also have another exhibition to prepare for….more on that to follow.