When I first started sketching daily, I had high hopes of the level that my art would reach a few years later. It’s now been over three and half years and in many ways, the improvement has been rather slow. But, I realize now, I didn’t actually have a goal in mind. I just showed up sketching stuff. This was quite fun and took all of the pressure off me, but now I’m thinking about where I’d like to go next. As it turns out, learning to draw and paint was the easy part! Learning how I’d like to take my sketching to the next level is the real challenge. This month, I’ve been playing around with stylizing things a bit more and adding less detail, with varying degrees of success. I want to be a touch more illustrative with my sketches, and learn new techniques, but I also want to write books as well! It turns out, there’s just not that many hours in the day and even fewer when your dreams are still just your side hobby and not a full time endeavor. There’s only so much I can do in just one hour a day that includes both sketching and writing. But, that never stops me! And it’s amazing what one can accomplish in just a little bit of dedicated time each day. So, I happily recommend it to everyone!

Earlier this month, I drew three giraffes on one page, a challenging thing indeed. And I was rather pleased with the outcome. Then I went back to my archives and realized this was the 9th time that I’ve sketched a giraffe. Since I change things up daily this is a bit of a record. And because I only have around 40 minutes a day for my sketching, this means I’ve still only spent 6 hours of dedicated time studying and sketching giraffes. But, for me, that’s huge! If I tried to spend that much time drawing them in a single day, I’d never do it. In short, I somehow managed to trick myself into investing more study in this one animal and can now draw one from memory. There are no shortcuts when it comes to practice. It just takes time. My dog Phineas is another one of my favorite repeat subjects and so I was able to sneak him into one of my sketches during the holidays with just a few lines and color. What I’ve learned is that I’m far more comfortable at stylizing and simplifying something when I’ve studied it really well. Both to understand the most important lines, but mostly to get all of that detail out of my system first!

Every person is very different. The thing that makes us the same is that we’re always most comfortable with the things we do most often. And no matter what, the good news is, it just takes lots and lots of practice. That’s wonderful news because it means that anything is possible if we just invest the time to get there. Though I don’t have much time each day, that time adds up and I always learn a little something new in the process. It’s all a matter of baby steps and though I would love to be able to do what the “big kids” can do, I’m just not quite there yet. Sure, I have my own style and charm, but the actual skills are hard won by doing at least a little something each day. I encourage everyone out there to sneak that extra little bit of time in every single day to DO whatever it is you’d like to get better at doing. If nothing else in this journey, I’m proven beyond a doubt that it’s totally possible to make something every day. Unlike me, you don’t have to actually post it, but I personally find that’s a fabulous part of the process. It’s like when I was a kid and I eagerly showed my mother what I made that day, excited to try again the next day, while learning how to grow.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, Opus (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, and Indigo. (my “Vintage” Trio!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Tulips Watercolor Vase - Doodlewash

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23 thoughts on “Learning How To Grow

  1. I love stylizing – I think you learn the shapes more completely that way. You would think that after learning realism, stylizing would be easy, but it’s the other way around. Realism is just including all the details. Stylizing is including only what is important. I’m so glad you show up every day with beauties like your tulips but I hope you do take enough time for your writing. The muse gets mulish if you try to thwart her wishes!

    1. Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 hehe… yeah… mine has been a journey of seeing only the most important details instead of ever one of them at once! lol And yes, I want to make a bit more space for my writing this year. That muse can get rather impertinent if ignored! hehe

  2. I soooo admire your commitment! I couldn’t do it! Every single day – no matter what! That is really really something!

    I get those dreams of yours too! To paint and write for our full time thing – oh how wonderful that would be…….

    1. Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, I keep telling myself… okay you’ve proven what’s possible you can take a break now. But, I’m addicted! lol But, I may likely take a posting break at some point to focus on my million other projects. Here’s to that dream of painting and writing full time… even if it comes when I’m 80, I’ll be a happy man! hehe

  3. Hi Charlie, there isn’t enough time in the day, huh?! 😉 I think that we all grow when we practice our art making, sometimes we ourselves don’t see it as much as those around us! 😃🌿 I see your art is growing! I like that you continue to explore and create in new ways… keep up the great work! 😍💕🎨

    1. Thanks so much, Jill! 😃💕 Yeah, I totally can’t see it! lol But I’m still having fun so I just show up and try things. Thrilled you see improvement there! And you’re right, practice is the best thing we can do. We definitely grow each time!

  4. I watched a lecture on watercolor wherein the artist set up a Still life and then painted it over and over. More than a hundred times I think, each time paying attention to different things one color, one black and white, one blues, one abstract. You get the idea. Each one was different, yet the same. He said he learned tons from doing this project.

    And yes. I was living in northern Wisconsin and dating this guy who took me to a local place were they had comedians in once a week. They announced a content in a few weeks. He said, let’s do this. I said sure, why not. So we signed up. I obsessed and wrote what I hoped was a funny set. Five minutes. An eternity really. The night came and there were only 4 of us doing it. I drank some beer courage and when the real comedians were done, we each got up there and took our shot. And I was funny. Seriously funny with some duds, and timing issues, but funny enough to take home first place. $100! My date took 3rd. I bought the rest of the beers. Lol Afterward, one of the real comedians came and talked to me and told me with some work, I could go on the circuit. Not bad for a small town library director. I never did anything else like it, but I do count it as a life highlight.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, painting and sketching something over and over again is truly the key. I need to steal time to try that more often. And yes!! Now, I DO remember that story… hehe… for some reason the stand up thing, which is huge didn’t stick as much as the fact that your date took 3rd place. LOL That’s awesome!!

  5. The beauty of having to steal time to do the things you love, is that you never get writer’s block or fear of the white page! You just get on with things. Once things stop being your treat and become your job, the pressure mounts. However, I agree it’s impor to show up, and keep evolving.

    1. I’m sending you the biggest virtual hug right now my friend! 😃💕 Thank you for that! I do think that keeping all this a hobby has made me strangely more productive. hehe There’s a trade off to be sure. If this were my full time gig, then it would become something I HAVE to do instead of something I simply LOVE to do! 😉

  6. Charlie said, “anything is possible if we just invest the time to get there.”

    Words to live by!

    As for the painting…I love the flowers, the glass, the water, the rocks–
    all of it a cohesive family that pleases all the senses.

  7. And I want to learn how to sketch/paint like Charlie. Fast, simple and beautiful. I have seen the results from practicing. I was looking at some of my work from 5 years ago, big difference now…..thank goodness! I always tell my students to sketch the same thing every day for a month. Then at the end of the month, go back and compare the first day and the last. You will see a difference.

    1. Aww thanks, Lori! 😃💕 hehe… I actually hope to provide more info about how I approach things soon. Mostly, it’s boiled down to, pretend you’re 5 years old and set an egg timer. lol And yes! I’m so thankful for my blog as I can look back and see the last time I painted a particular subject. There’s something a bit more refined there now that I rather enjoy.

  8. I’m longing for spring, so your flowers are welcome!
    Your advice is good…whenever I’m panicking about having time to do something, if I just do a little bit in the time I have, I can see enough progress to make it feel doable. It all adds up. (K)

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