Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Week of Art Before Breakfast

As I mentioned previously, Danny Gregory's Art Before Breakfast starts with a week's worth of drawing exercises. And without further ado, here's what I produced over that "week" (I fudged it a bit, and did Saturday and Sunday's drawings on Monday and Tuesday):

In many respects, I'm seeing these drawings for the first time myself. One of Danny's bits of advice is to finish the drawing and immediately turn the page. The worst thing you can do is dwell on how badly you flubbed a drawing. And so after every drawing, that's exactly what I did. To keep myself from cheating, I used a binder clip to both mark my place and keep me from browsing previous days. Here's how every day started:

And so when I look at these drawings, I'm actually quite pleased. I'm also a bit surprised. I attempted to draw our library two different times, and both attempts came out more or less the same.

While Art Before Breakfast would like to teach you to draw better, that doesn't strike me as its primary objective. Instead, it's making two key claims: first, that drawing has huge benefits. For example, you'll see details around you that you never noticed,or you'll experience the same joy of flow that comes with meditation or Yoga. Second that you can gain these benefits even if you don't think you have the skills or time.

In many respects, my little week of drawing supports these claims. While some of the drawings were frustrating to make, other's surprised me with how enjoyable they were. In a few cases, the exercise called for just drawing the outline of a scene, and I found myself itching to fill in the details (versus, say, itching to burn the sketchbook).

Perhaps the best example of Art Before Breakfast influencing me is this little sketch here:

I made this sketch in my notepad while waiting in my car for an appointment to start. I stated by just drawing the stop sign in front of me, and before I knew it I was filling in the details of the scene around it. And just like that, the 10 minutes I could have frittered away on YouTube, was spent creating something.

Before you rush off and buy Art Before Breakfast, assuming it will unlock your inner art genius, there's a few things you should know.

First, most of the advice in the book I'd already picked up from Gregory or others. Still, it's impressive to see what effectively took me years to catalog, splayed out in a couple of pages.

And second, I found the emphasis on trying to make art in just a few minutes to be stress inducing in its own right. I've learned that step one of making a drawing needs to be having a internal discussion: what am I actually seeing here?. If I feel like I've got just a couple of minutes to get the drawing done, that critical step gets thrown out.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going to go from here. But I've got an empty sketchbook, a pen and a world class cheerleader in Danny Gregory; what else could you ask for?

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