- Composition was not solved.
- Very early on in this painting, I arrived at a composition that I liked, but I settled too quickly. The buildings on the hill were not solved early on, the sense of scale could be pushed further.
- No Reference.
- Civilization does not start abruptly. A town does not just begin all of a sudden, there’s a progression of buildings on the outskirts of any town, which lead into a denser packed city. If I used reference, I would have figured this out sooner.
- No Reference!
- The desert sort of looks like a desert, the town sort of looks like a town. The lighting kind of looks correct. Not good enough.
- Did not solve color or light.
- Before I jumped into painting finer details, lighting and color were not solved. I fought with it in the beginning, but never quite figured it out before I moved into painting if further. This led to a backwards approach, where I’m trying to fix my mistakes as I move forward This is a bad workflow, because it does not allow for what Bob Ross calls “Happy Accidents.”
I present the aftermath of yesterday’s 2 hour event – A Giant Leaping Through the Clouds.
Always reflect on what you’ve done, and try to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Sometimes that means coming back to it in a day, or looking it at backwards, upside-down, etc. If you don’t like what you’ve done, don’t beat yourself up about it. Whenever we draw, we’re improving. If you want to improve, then draw.
“Sow a thought and you reap and action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
I’m sure I am breaking a cardinal rule of language immersion by writing this. That is – never break from your target language and use your own. But does writing count? In any case, I’ll call this a Cheat Day, solely because speaking / writing in English after being attacked by Spanish all day feels like eating a plate of brownies.
I’ve been in Spain for a week, I’d like to take a moment in my own language to reflect on my experience so far. I’ve been journaling every morning for the past three years, but since I got here I’ve switched it up and am now logging my mornings in Español. It’s awful. I have no clue if what I’m writing is grammatically sound, and I fear the day for when I’ll have to go back over everything I’ve written at the end of the month – incoherent dribble from some Americano painfully rendering his days in a language he can’t properly speak nor write.
When I speak, I’m a monkey. But not your typical run of the mill eat-your-face kind of monkey. I’m a shy, bashful, nervous little simian who speaks about 12 semi-tones higher while trying to communicate. The people talk so much here, the whole culture seems to revolve around getting together to talk and gossip. You know that wonderful moment when dinner has finished but conversation is still flowing, and people aren’t in any rush to leave the table because they’re having too much fun talking and gossiping? The Spanish have a word for that – Sobremesa – which is a testament to how much weight they put on hanging out and talking. They talk so much, that everyone is typically talking at the same time because they never stop talking.
As an American, I have to say that I’m not quite used to this. I’m trying, but god dammit if there’s never a day where I’d rather stick my head in a boiling vat of olive oil then to mutter a few weak phrases I’ve memorized. Like a bad martial art, I have a handful of practiced phrases that only work at the right time. Like a bad martial art, I’ll need someone to set me up just right so that I can execute my practiced maneuver.
When you first jump into the learning another language, you’re mind isn’t as blank as you’d think it is. You can already speak a language, and you can do it very well. I don’t think we realize how good we all are at speaking our native tongues, until we really give a go at speaking another. There’s all sorts of techniques out there on quick ways to learn, on achieving fluency with minimal effort, but what does it mean to speak?
When you’re learning guitar, when do you say that you can play? To say you “Can Do” something carries a lot of weight. You are able to—what, exactly? Play a song? Mutter a phrase? If I can cook an egg, does that make me Gordon Ramsey? The sliding scale of ability does not link up to the words “Can” and “Can Not”; it’s like comparing black and white to a rainbow.
Bear with me for a moment, and try to imagine it how I see it: When you learn anything, think of it like an incomplete web starting a stopping in random places. This is how learning looks in the beginning. Your knowledge is sporadic, you may know a thing or two but the dots have not been connected. Sometimes, one piece of the web will link up to another, and the strength of that connection is dependent on the amount you’ve practiced it. These come in the form of epiphanies. As you learn more, this process continues, and the web grows larger and more connections are made. The web you’re left with is the accumulated, executable knowledge you’ve collected and rehearsed over a period of time.
I like the web idea, because it’s closer to nature’s process of building by accumulation. But we humans are not used to creating webs, we like to create square buildings. When drawing analogies to learning we’ll say things related to building a house, like “Work on your foundations first”, and “Only once the walls are up can you work on the plumbing” *wink*. But when executing, like speaking, playing music, or drawing, we’re not traversing through our building looking for a misplaced word, we’re scanning our tangled web of knowledge on a specific subject. After a while everything has an equal amount of importance, and the advanced topics are no more advanced than the fundamentals. Eventually, everything connects.
Anyways, enough rambling. I needed to expunge some English out of my system like a bad case of diarrhea, and damn does it feel good. Not deviating away from a target language is like waving a glass of wine in front of an alcoholic – it’s right there, it’s so easy, all you need to do is take it. But the times when you spend the most effort, when you’re so fed up you want to punch yourself in the balls, is when real learning is taking place.
What it is.
The Rapid Failure method is a technique for memorizing the combinations of simple forms that, when combined together, create something complex. Everything we perceive can broken down into simple shapes, which is a key principle in drawing. If we memorize those shapes we can develop a mental roadmap that allows us to depict whatever we want, whenever we want.
I developed this technique while looking for a way to incorporate spaced repetition in drawing, thus allowing me to draw from memory. I wanted something simple and quick and so far, it’s worked. Here’s how to do it.
How to do it.
- Attempt to draw the object from memory, as best you can.
- The drawing will no doubt be abysmal, but it’s important that you record a starting point for later comparison.
- Open up Google and look for clear and precise reference photos, all from various angles.
- Don’t dive too deep into details or anatomy just yet — look for large forms that you can commit to memory.
- Compare the reference to your previous attempts.
- Put the reference away and draw the object from memory.
- Focus on one or two major shapes, and draw them several times from several angles.
- Look for your mistakes a calibrate accordingly.
- If you feel inclined, try drawing the entire object.
Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to every single quadruped that lives or has lived on planet Earth.
As the name implies, it’s important that you move rapidly. But when I say rapid, I don’t mean move the pen as fast as you can — it means to not stop, to move steadily and continuously and to fail with purpose.
Use a pen. It should be obvious that you’re not going to be erasing anything, and you want your lines to be bold and visible.
Working this way provides some great benefits…
- When you fail on purpose, the fear of getting it wrong evaporates.
Improves line quality.
- Line quality comes from confidence and control.
Increased awareness of form.
- Form is paramount to a good drawing.
- If you focus only on large shapes, you’ll naturally become bias towards depicting form over detail ( which is a good thing ).
The shape, form and construction of various objects is transferable.
- Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to almost every single quadruped living on planet Earth.
If you have any questions, agreements or feel like antagonizing me, or a way this technique can be altered and enhanced, do me a solid by leaving a comment below.
Good luck, and have fun failing.
Everything in existence — be it biology, computers, science, art — builds upon foundations from the past. Singular blocks are combined to create a new structure, which are combined to create something new, which are then combined with something else to create something new.
Always create, and keep everything you make. Finished products come from a collection of small finished products, and everything you make can become a building block for something larger. It doesn’t matter what you do, this method of creation and collection can be applied to everything.
A batch of work from last night at the Artisan Asylum. If you live in the Somerville area and have nothing going on during Tuesday nights, how come you’re not coming to this?
I’ve been using a technique that I had no idea I was utilizing until last night. I suppose it resulted from banishing pencils from my toolbox a while back and sticking with a pen, which forced me to draw the figure on my first and only pass. It don’t know if it has a name, but let’s call it Triangulation, for that’s essentially what I’m doing.
Using the above image as an example, It’s almost impossible to determine the length of the model’s right leg without any other frame of reference. This is why we sketch form and proportions before adding details. I hate doing that — I like going straight to the details. To find the length of the leg, I picture a triangle where one point is on the tip of the shoulder, the other on the tip of the knee, which finishes on the pelvis. This creates the necessary angles, thus the necessary distances, I need to draw correct proportions. I do this all the way down the figure, triangle after triangle, stroke after stroke.
Triangulating the angles of the figure is a simple concept, yet the challenge lies in pulling off the correct stroke in a single attempt. You can see in the above example that I made some errors, particularly in the shoulders of the top two drawings, where my initial angle was off. Errors were made because I didn’t calculate the correct angle before laying down the stroke, thus I had to recalibrate. Other mistakes are due to a lack of confidence, which — I confess — is fucking unacceptable.
The above 5 minute drawings are my favorites, for when you have so little time you don’t have space for second guesses. You do, then you proceed. Drawing this way, it all comes down to the quality of the stroke. Everything else — anatomy, shading, weight, etc — is basic fundamentals.
What sets you apart from everyone in your profession is your past knowledge. Looking at business like an artist, an architect learning to program, a tennis player becoming a roboticist, a fashion designer designing music are a few examples.
Combining unrelated fields creates a whole new field.
Don’t learn one thing, learn many.
If you’re able to read this, that means your life is filled with options.
Subtract the unnecessary and you’ll grow as an artist.
Work first, learn later.
Hit your boundaries then figure out what is required to traverse them.
You’re brain will thank you later.