Sketchbook Revival: Day 4 Session 2

This session with Suhita Shirodkar (suhitasketch.com) was an exercise in looking that ended up with a drawing.

If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edward’s, you will appreciate the similarity with Suhita’s method of drawing.

You have to stop naming things so your brain doesn’t get in the way of looking at your line.

Suhita pointed out that this is something our brain has to do to help us interface with the world…to read, understand common symbols, and communicate.

When drawing, however, this natural function of the brain can override what we are looking at and superimpose our conception of a thing over our perception of that thing.

The reference photo Suhita selected was very complex with odd angles and an intermingling of the two subjects. She focused us on just one line at a time, and the relationship of the next line to the line we’d just drawn. Perfect way to work through the “problem” of a complex subject.

Perfect way to work through a lot of life’s complex problems…start with a part and keep moving forward.

The Unflappable Molly

A close friend commissioned me to make a drawing of every member of our dog walking group.

I’ve been stuck on Molly. I have many great photos from her Mom and friends, and I started a very different piece back in June (or was it July) of 2021.

That piece just wasn’t speaking to me. I’d started it in the style of another of the drawings I’d done, but it just didn’t suit Molly as well. So I dragged my feet…there was no joy in Whoville.

In the last month I decided to walk away from that drawing entirely, which was a first for me. It came with consequences in the form of self-doubt. Had I lost my mojo?

In the lead-up to walking away from that drawing I was also busy with my business, and I had not been sketching or collaging or doing anything creative outside of work. I felt a creative constipation of sorts.

The holiday break was good for me because I just started playing again. The value of play can not be overstated. As a creative, sometimes you need to make something really bad, or good, or somewhere in between with nothing riding on it. There’s no pressure, just “pure” creation. I use quotes because pure isn’t really the right word. It’s more about letting go of any preconception or intentional design and just seeing what happens.

All of Molly’s pictures are in an album and I would flip through them every now and then. Molly is very much her own dog. She was a stray that adopted her family, and she has ideas about when things should happen. She’s a private dog…preferring to go off trail a bit to take care of business. She doesn’t waste time with too much jumping around and wiggly butt greeting. She tolerates her pack mates and she is sometimes protective of the group. But she is an anchor to the group. She is a founding member, and she is solid and reliable Molly. Ever present but not overly affectionate to the group.

This means the photo I eventually picked is probably not her most flattering, but I does match my experience of her. Aware of me, comfortable with me, but ultimately not impressed by me. I’m also making progress on it, and this morning, the sunlight coming through my front door threw a rainbow on the endeavor. I must be on to something.

Personal Project—2022 Planners

Inktober and other fun projects took a back seat this week because a personal project arrived!

Opening this box was like Christmas morning in October. I was so excited for these to arrive!

2022 calendars have been on my mind recently because I receive several wall calendars in the fall, and they are usually accompanied by donation requests.

Still, It occurred to me that a calendar would be a great piece of swag to send my clients as an end-of-the-year thanks. Instead of another wall calendar, though, I thought a planner might be more fun. My business is publishing, after all, and 2020-2021 have been far more digital than print. I’ve been itching for a box of fresh printing to arrive on my doorstep.

I wanted the planner to showcase my design tastes, and the artwork needed to be mine too. I crawled through datebooks and sketchbooks going back to 2006, and pulled some of my favorite pieces. There are a few below. Every month has one or two pieces of art, and there is room for making notes/doodles/to-do lists.

The planner contains my personal and professional brands because it is where my art and my design world meet. Twenty have already shipped with hand-written notes and, yes, a couple of business cards, to my clients from 2021. And some of these will be thank-you gifts to the people who have been so supportive to me as I’ve built Nan Mellem Publishing.