Hi everyone! My name’s Kate. It’s super nice to meet you! I’m an artist and this is my first blog post. I hope this blog will be focused on what I’ve been up to, and more importantly, sharing some of my process and experiences related to the world of illustration.
Here’s a gif of me introducing myself...!
I thought I’d start out by talking about a fitting subject matter, how to get started on a drawing.
So, how do you get started? There can be a lot of roadblocks in creative work of any kind, and I want to share a few things that help me get going and/or bring a project to completion. When we get started on the process of creative work, we might have a ton of motivation, we might feel inspired, or we might not be feeling it but we are forced to start (either from self-discipline or usually in the case of a client project).
Acknowledging that this can be a challenging process, there are a few strategies that I use to get through moments of hesitation.
For me, using one or more of these 5 thought directives can help to jumpstart my imagination and get me through the workday.
1. Activate the blank page.
Some people might call this warming up, but since I may or may not take initial scribbles and sketches all the way to the end of the process, I like to describe it as “activation”. Since I like drawing characters, I’ll usually start by blocking in extremely general shapes and lines that describe a gesture for the character. Since I’m not overly committed to any of these marks at the start, it makes the starting approach a little more manageable. Using an eraser and light pencil marks that don’t push into and damage the paper (if you want really clean lines, don’t leave any dents as it will interrupt your surface), we can play around with emotive poses and postures that describe the body language of the character. If we find a series of lines that we feel work for the drawing, we can begin to commit to those lines and continue building up value over time. Eventually, this will lead to a more realized image that is built on expressive line and bold experimentation. And, added bonus, your hand will be all warmed up too!
2. Look through old sketchbooks and revive old ideas.
Though it can be somewhat painful to leaf through old sketchbooks, it can be worth it when we’ve hit a creative roadblock and need something to re-energize our process. Sometimes, we may find a past drawing that challenges us to re-create it from a - new and improved - present perspective. This can be really empowering because we can, point blank, see where we have improved over time and where we may be stagnant in our quest for artistic improvement. Since we have already had some experience with drawing the subject matter in our old sketch, we can reinforce the lessons we’ve learned since creating the initial drawing. The new drawing is bound to impress upon its completion, since you will be able to see all of your improvements, and this is super satisfying. Sharing the images on social media also promotes your progress as an artist, and will likely serve as inspiration to other artists who aspire to improve as well. Giving back to the community is always good, and you might get some pats on the back along the way!
3. Have faith that things will improve.
Making art is hard. That’s why it takes practice and discipline! As we bolster our skill through day-to-day drawing and painting and take the time to improve how we see the world, our progress may not always be so obvious. It is always really satisfying when a drawing just goes the way we want it to, but that is not always the reality of practice. When we have faith in ourselves and are determined not to give up on our work despite the challenges, we always come out learning something that we will use in the future, whether we like it or not. If a drawing isn’t going the way we planned, it doesn’t mean you won’t learn something along the way about how to achieve your goal in the future. In fact, persistent practice can be a way for us to learn about the specifics of our goals and motivation. Which leads me to my next point...!
4. You do you.
Sometimes people may have strong opinions about who they expect you to be as an artist. My advice is to draw what you want to draw and don’t let anybody bully you into creating work about something other than what you love. It’s great to take on challenges and open up your subject matter when you feel things might be getting stagnant, or if you want to improve on something that doesn’t come naturally to you. But, don’t be bullied into not drawing because someone believes you should only be making one kind of art. You’ll learn leagues more from drawing something, anything, that you are truly interested in, than if you try and force yourself into another person’s idea of who you are as an artist. Sketching can be a way of processing and understanding our thoughts, which otherwise only exist in our mental space. We can begin to understand ourselves, our goals, and our place in the world through this process, so don’t let anyone thwart you or bully you out of it! It’s too valuable and personal of an experience to let someone just take it away.
5. You don’t always need a purpose or goal.
Related to point 4, we don’t always need a goal to get started. Sometimes creating artwork with a specific meaning behind it can be super motivating, such as in any kind of activist art. But, one of the magical parts of sketching and drawing is that it can reveal things about who we are and what we care about. It can be a way of determining what our goals are and how we might execute them in the future. Listen to your instincts while making work, and let yourself draw from many sources as you go. If we trust ourselves and have patience, we will sort out our goals over time, which can continue to serve us motivation.
Time to get started! Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and I really hope these tips help you along in your illustration and art journey as much as they have helped me.
Let me know what helps to get you started on an illustration or drawing!
Don’t forget to add me on instagram @oxcoxa, where I frequently post progress videos and finished drawings in all their glory!
Let me know if you liked this post, and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day. Until next time!