Character Sketching and Surpassing your Self-Imposed Limitations

You know¬† that feeling you get sometimes…when you tell yourself I can’t…then you ignore that voice completely and do it anyway?

Well, I was astonished and so proud I ignored it completely! We had a long weekend home in February this year and, instead of feeling sorry for myself that I couldn’t go out, I had another brilliant epiphany… why not paint memories from my travels!

I mean, I spent money I should have saved on art supplies last November and I had some pep talks to myself in the weeks leading up to this painting which went something like this, you bought the damn supplies….so paint! How do you expect to see what you’re capable of and how far you can go with this if you don’t paint!!

I studied in Peru in 2016 for almost a year doing my MBA (of course….nothing art related) and it allowed me to see some beautiful people and places…my only regret now is that I didn’t take enough photos. But hey….a great reason to return!

So back to this guy….my roommates and I went to a festival in the heart of Lima and there were these characters amongst others that roamed the streets. It took me less than 48 hours and I tried to include some techniques I learned throughout my research….dry brush for the texture on his vest and wet on wet for his bottle. I really love how he turned out and he really motivated me to push myself to do more!

So I guess despite the fact that my studies weren’t art related, my time in Peru did in fact ignite my desire to paint again out of my comfort zone.

Beginning Art Again…

I started reading some of my books I have on drawing the human figure to aid me in executing a self portrait I had in mind to ensure I got a handle of the essential dimensions of the face in particular. I had this brilliant idea on the quest to improving my art, that I should tackle the more difficult areas in order to achieve my painting goals. What are those goals you may ask? Well…glad you did ūüôā

  • To produce more realistic paintings, not hyperrealistic, but paintings which reflect proportion, foreshortening and attention to some details in features
  • To execute paintings using watercolours and oil paints which I have always wanted to try but stayed away from for various reasons
  • To practice other art mediums such as sculpture and digital art and graphic design

So with those goals in mind, I started reading Andrew Loomis’ Drawing the Head and Hands….now…something I must confess, I can get distracted quite easily, so I only got to 35 of 140¬†something when I got the brilliant idea while practicing to use the watercolours I bought to start painting facial features.

I bought this small spiral watercolour pad to practice and hated how it turned out. The top was clearly my first attempt on different cheaper paper, the second was on better quality paper and the last was after using a tutorial I found on YouTube…needless to say that tutorial really helped in my understanding of making it more 3D.

I definitely want to keep practicing!


And so it Begins…

Thanks for joining me! This is gonna be kinda long but hope you stick it through…it’s been more than a decade in the making!

So you know the usual artist story….they’ve been drawing since they could remember. I was the same; except I stopped. I tried my best to become normal, kill that desire thinking to myself, oh you won’t be the next big thing, give it up… something regular…and so I tried, for over a decade. There were bursts of creativity that tried to overpower my outer need to kill my dream, and they succeeded briefly – but I stifled them again for the last four years.¬† And, now here I am.

It’s so odd…my life that is…the thought patterns that frequent my mind space, the actions that are actually executed and the regrets that spiral into a¬†world of worry. When did I¬†become like this? My worst nightmare….being one of those persons that speaks but never follows through on something they said they’d¬†do?¬† SIGH…..I am truly my own worst enemy!

From my high school days I was convinced that my life was destined to be that of a successful and multi-faceted artist….to 16 years later with a dwindling, slowly dying dream¬†that resurrects itself every couple of months or years with these visions of my success, being spurred by a new creative idea or simply being visually inspired by the work and success of someone else. With the proverbial hindsight being 20/20 as it usually is, I can’t help but wonder where I would have been if I¬†were allowed to follow my dream after high school.

I collected the various Art School prospectus, the world was my perceived oyster. I perused schools in France, the US and UK, excited with each one that was mailed to me. But it only opened me up to something that I thought I was going to do but had that dream denied by fearful parents who wanted the best for me and not have their only daughter pining away on street corners or living at home unemployed as such is the perceived life of an artist – dying to create…but with no paying audience willing to pay for and appreciate her efforts.

The quest to defy was in me when I started university, and I was insistent on doing a¬† double degree…one degree to satisfy my parents….the other myself…I mean it wasn’t the country or school I wanted it to be but it would have sufficed since I wasn’t financially calling the shots….only to be told I’d have to spend an extra year in school which would have added another year to their loan – a definite no-no.¬†That was the first time I turned my back on art…wanted nothing to do with those who were allowed to live their dream….seeing them as lucky, privileged, destined to succeed and I¬†began to place my art dreams in the memory file of no return.

Over time though, the fire wouldn’t die. It tore through me at times spurring me to do random things to make moves to get my dream back on track…random classes, a trip to Canada, online courses, an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design and self-taught study. It’s weird that the feeling to be creative doesn’t want to let me go…..I used to feel cursed for wanting to be who I wanted to….and with ‘friends’ that didn’t understand and made it seem like a unrealistic and lofty dream lovingly advised¬†that I should start being realistic with my choices…..I forced myself to become what I termed ‘normal’…don’t think about art…….just don’t……what and where could¬†it actually get you?

But it doesn’t want to die….creativity is a part of me and I am coming to terms with that.¬† I also know I¬†don’t want to die with the regret of not exploring who I’m meant to truly be. A part of me feels like exploring and living this artistic life is actually one of the secret doors that I must unlock where my ultimate happiness lies….career, social life, even a happy relationship. Which brings the million dollar question, if I know subconsciously practically everything I want is waiting for me behind Door #1…..why can’t I start????? Why do I get frightened and run away leaving that door in an abyss blocked by fear and uncertainty?

There’s this book I found ‘Art and Fear’ it’s speaks to a lot of the reasons why I haven’t made major moves to pursue this dream….it explains the blank canvases, the unopened paints and pastels, the unused clay and other materials that were bought with an idea in mind but the overpowering existence of fear of not being able to execute, which left them unused and bare.

How strange is this feeling to create when burdened by fear of your vision not coming out the way you saw it in your mind’s eye? How odd is it¬†when you’re also afraid of your possible success and being in the spotlight as a result? Now I get why some artists are tortured souls…..the thin line to create or not to create or living with the consequences of not doing so really do drive you up a wall…….the problem is how do I create despite these fears and an unending desire to be a successful creative?

With all this in mind, these quotes ignited this renewed drive:

  1.   I should create despite the outcome.
  2.   If I never start, I will never know how successful I could be.
  3. ¬† No one’s opinion should really¬†matter…this is just something I have to do for me.
  4.   The other side of fear could reveal something really beautiful.
  5. ¬† Other people’s success should not¬†intimidate me but serve as a lesson¬†to inspire into my own life.
  6.   There are only 2 options: make progress, or make excuses.
  7.   I want to be an example for my future kids and my future self.

And most importantly…”You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” – Les Brown

And with those words, so we begin…

Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul and you answer. ‚ÄĒ Terri Guillemets