Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: What I Learned, How It Went

Is it really over???

I know I’ve said this a lot, but man, it feels like the challenge just started, yet somehow it feels like it went on forever.

I was so tempted to surprise you all and do one more week of the challenge to do some of the top requested drawings that are left, but my family is home on vacation this week and as our youngest has a birthday this week as well, that had to be my priority. I promise to get to that list soon though!

On to the recap!

What I learned:

The biggest thing I learned was that taking almost a year off from working is not good for me mentally. Every time I saw the boxes for my studio and office still in the sunroom waiting to be unpacked or my future office/studio still in shambles, I’d get more frustrated, anxious and agitated. Every day that I got to do a drawing, I felt all of that melting away. Yes, my boxes are still there and the office is no where near finished, but I had my joy back.

How it went:

I think this year’s challenge went a lot better than last year! I think knowing what to expect and what parts were going to be hard ahead of time really helped me prepare better. I also didn’t deal with the burnout like I did last year, although there were a few days where I just did not want to draw an animal again!

I also really enjoyed my followers on Facebook guessing the subject each day! I loved the interaction and their creativity in their guessing. I still owe them a cat’s butt at some point 😉

For next time:

I will definitely be taking the weekends off again. It helped prevent the burnout that I had last year, and even though we’re so close to school, having all three kids in activities, it just made life so much easier not having to worry about fitting the drawings in. I will also plan better for which month I choose for the challenge! This month was rough with all of the kid’s activities, so it made trying to get all the drawing, editing, and posting done around that was exhausting and stressful most days.

I will be making some drastic changes to the challenge next year. While I do plan on continuing the challenge, I will no longer be doing a drawing a day.

Wait, what?

I haven’t fully decided on the challenge title yet, but it will still be creating a full fledged piece a day, but it could be a watercolor painting, an oil painting, or yes, even a drawing. There were so many pieces I wanted to create this challenge, but doing them in just graphite pencil was…well, boring. It will also break up the monotony I dealt with this year. Last year’s challenge had a diverse subject list, and this year was mostly animals. While I don’t mind that necessarily, having other things like landscapes and sunsets and just some color thrown in is going to be so wonderful!

Differences from last time:

A huge gold star to one of my besties for recognizing a big change this year!!!! She asked me what I was doing different as she noticed a difference in the drawings from last year, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. This year I still had the same goals (increasing inventory, bettering my skills, learning that I can and should take the time for my art, etc.), but I added another one that I didn’t share: don’t just draw something just to draw it, but make it a real piece. What that translates to is last year I’d concentrate on the subject I was given to draw, but not always the surroundings (background, foreground, etc.). This year I wanted to have each piece be more like a snapshot in time, where there was a background, a foreground, the subject itself. It makes the pieces more well rounded, more finished feeling, and just better. I didn’t do it with every drawing, but the majority of them I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried it.

I sold drawings and had many requests for prints as well! Last year there were only a couple print requests and no drawing sold, so I’m not sure if it’s because I have a bigger following this year or maybe the drawings are better, but I am so encouraged and humbled. Thank you to everyone who requested a print or bought a drawing!!!!!

Products:

All of the originals that are available are in my Etsy store, and prints have started to roll out as well. Note cards will be coming once my office is put back together.

Other Thoughts:

Favorite drawing: It’s like making me choose a favorite child: I can’t do it! I really am so in love with each and everyone this year!

Least favorite drawing: Snake, but only because I had to look up snake reference images 😉

FAQ:

What are you doing with the list of things you haven’t gotten to?

That is a fantastic question, and one that I don’t have a definitive answer to yet. I still have about 20 or so suggestions on my list, and I have a few ideas of what to do: extend the challenge another week or two (or more like four to finish the list!), save the list for next year, or randomly do a drawing a day here or there throughout the year. I’m probably going to do the last option, so be expecting random drawings to pop up here and there before next year’s challenge!

 

You can view all of the drawings from this year’s challenge here.

 

What was your favorite drawing from the challenge?

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Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 22

This morning my boys asked what today’s drawing was going to be. I said I wasn’t sure, but that I was going to be taking all nineteen suggestions left on my list, writing them out on slips of paper, and choosing a slip for each day remaining in the challenge. They both thought that was a great way to figure it out, and then my youngest said these six words:

“I hope it’s the dolphin today!”

I paused, and then said there wasn’t a dolphin on my list.

He said he had asked for one, and the more he talked about it, the more I remembered him suggesting it. How it never got onto my list, I don’t know.

And then we remembered another drawing. And another…and another….and even another.

I forgot FIVE SUGGESTIONS. My list went up to twenty four suggestions this morning!!! Yikes!!!!

At lunch time, I put all the slips into a bowl and my four year old buddy who was visiting today chose today’s subject from the bowl:

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Title: Badger

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

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Inspired/nominated by: Me, unintentionally. Back when I was drawing the skunk, I wanted to turn him into a badger. I had the idea of doing a realistic version of the different animal mascots for the Hogwarts Houses in the Harry Potter series, so here’s the Hufflepuff mascot! The only problem I’ve run into with doing this set of drawings is that I’m terrified of snakes, so choosing a reference image, studying it, and then trying to reproduce it will give me nightmares for at least a week….so I may have to rethink this series!

Favorite parts: His chin hairs! And his white face stripe!!!!

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Challenging parts: Getting the white fur to stand out from the background! I didn’t want to push the background too dark, but outlining the fur with a pencil or adding pencil lines for extra fur was going to either make it feel fake or make the fur too dark. What I ended up doing was taking one of my blender sticks and slightly outlining the fur with it. It turned out to be the same darkness as the background, but added just enough definition to the fur to make it stand out more!

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Product availability: The original drawing is available in my Etsy shop here. Prints will be available soon 🙂

 

What is your Hogwarts House? We have three Hufflepuffs (badger), a Gryffindor (lion), and a Ravenclaw (raven/eagle). Our cat would definitely be a Slytherin (snake)!!!!

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 5

This morning, I was so excited. We got a phone call around 5am that there was a snow day, so we had a lazy morning full of snuggles and sleeping in. We cleared the driveway of 12″+ of snow, and while we watched a movie, I worked on my drawing. It was going so well, I was going to not only have it done really early today, but also get the blog post written and scheduled to publish tonight while I was out with some friends, and it was going to be a fantastic day!

Well…you know what they say about plans.

After the movie was done, our youngest (who was home on Tuesday) moved from snuggling up against me, looked at me, and his eyes rolled. I put my hand on his cheek, and it was HOT. I grabbed the thermometer, and boom. 103.3. I grab my phone, ask the hubby to give him Tylenol, and call the doctor’s. It was a flurry of activity, scrambling to get our littlest dude out the door (who didn’t want to leave the comfy couch), get me dressed and presentable, and get on the road after a snow storm to the other doctor’s office half an hour away as our local one wasn’t open due to power outtages.

But we made it. It’s looking like our little has a virus, but we’re waiting on the 24 hour strep test (regular strep test was negative and he tested negative for the flu as well). He’s sleeping next to me on the couch right now, and I rescheduled tonight’s plans because all he wanted was his mama and to watch movies.

And that was more than okay with me.

Thankfully today’s drawing ended up being much easier, smoother, and quicker than I had anticipated because she somehow got finished:

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Behind the Scenes: Lassie

Waaay back in April of this year, our church held it’s annual short term missions auction. I entered a gift certificate for an 8 x 10 unframed drawing again, and anxiously awaited it to sell so I could start planning a new drawing.

This year was a little different; normally, the certificate will sell, and I will have absolutely no idea what the drawing will be until I meet with the winner (like any normal commission I do). However, I knew what it would be before the winner even was presented the certificate.

Don and Linda are dear friends of ours at church. Earlier this year, they lost their beloved sheltie, Lassie. As soon as I saw Linda bidding on the certificate, I knew I’d be doing another pet portrait if she won:

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Rain on the Lake

This week’s featured piece:

Title: Rain on the Lake

Medium: Watercolor

Size: 11″ x 14″

When: Fall 2014

Time to complete: A few hours over 3 or 4 days

Purpose: To see if I could do it (I’ve never really enjoyed watercolors and have found them difficult to use) and to work on building a portfolio of items for the art show in December

Problems I encountered: Getting the trees dark enough was pretty difficult. I had a hard time getting them dark enough without becoming big black blobs. Finding that happy medium between dark enough yet still tree-like was a challenge, and I think this was actually my second or third painting of this subject before I felt I got it right.

The clouds were also on the tricky side; getting them dark enough in color but still light enough in weight so they looked like clouds took quite a bit of time.

Favorite part: Um….everything. I’d love to own this piece, but if I kept all the pieces I loved that I made, I’d run out of wall space and would never have anything to sell!

Least favorite part: I don’t think I have anything that really bothers me about this piece!

Product availability: This is available as an original, a print in two sizes, and in my Landscape note card set!

 

Have you tried watercolors before? What do you think of them?

Hollands Vault Mural, Part 3

This week I was able to put in almost 10 hours of painting time. A lot has changed, and I can’t wait to show you everything!
Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you’ve missed them.
This week I have added dimension to the balloons…
Started putting a horse in…
Blocked in the main bottom features…
Started adding a race car (Ka Chow!):
Added more horsey details…
Finished up a princess…
Worked on another princess in her tower…
And worked on a grounded flying object!
And I still have eleven more characters to put in! I can’t wait to show you them all 🙂
What’s your favorite part so far?

Big Announcement!

Did you guys see the announcement yesterday on my Facebook page? It’s pretty exciting; I get to cross something off of my bucket list!

When I was in college, one of my drawing class instructors did a unit on bookmaking. We had to make up a book, either fully drawn or a combination of writing and drawing, and then we had to make the cover and hand bind it. It was a great project, and I did a children’s book based on something my daughter loved. During that assignment, I fell in love with the process, and ever since then I’ve wanted to either write or illustrate a children’s book.

Well, now I can say that I am going to be a children’s book illustrator! How exciting is that?!?

I’m going to be collaborating with an author friend of mine, RV Hodge. He has written a chapter book series that is amazing (Book 1 and 2 are available now, Book 3 is coming out in May!), and is in the process of writing a children’s book series. The series will be about twelve books, and if all goes well, we hope to have 3-4 books available by the end of the year!

The first story is simply wonderful, and I can’t wait to share more details with you all! Make sure you follow me on Facebook; there are a couple pictures up of illustrating prep, and trust me when I say that there are a lot more to come!

You can read RV’s original announcement about the children’s series here, and then the announcement of me as his illustrator here! Stay tuned to his blog for more announcements over the next few weeks 🙂

Daughter of the Universe

This week’s featured piece is one of my favorites…

 

Title: Daughter of the Universe

Size: 20″ x 30″

Medium: Graphite and acrylic paint on paper

When: Drawing 2 class in college, Fall 2004

Time to complete: A couple weeks

Purpose: Class assignment

Thought Process: This professor liked to get us to think outside of the box. It helped us to think more creatively and stretch ourselves, which for someone like me that prefers realism, is a good thing to do once in awhile.

For this assignment, she gave us a piece of paper with two columns on it. In each column were words or parts of phrases. We had to choose one word/phrase from each column and that would be our title for our piece we were to create. All imagery had to reflect that title in some way. As you can see, I chose “daughter of” and “the universe”

I remember I was really struggling with not being literal in my imagery! I think my first sketch was a girl sitting on a star. I remember my teacher coaching me by telling me to not think of “daughter” and “universe”, but as things that symbolize them. We threw around words and ideas of what a daughter was, what she symbolized, or things that she would use. One of the ideas was a pearl necklace, and using it as a string of stars. I liked that, but my professor wanted me to stretch even farther. 

As I reviewed our meeting notes later that evening, one word stuck out at me that someone had mentioned: innocence. I did some research online, and found a picture of a beautiful white water lily. Lilies are my favorite flower (doesn’t matter what kind!), and it just resonated with me. I did cheat and chose a group of stars for the universe, but as the lily and the stars normally don’t appear this way, it was okay for the project.

Problems I encountered: Getting the graphite to be dark enough without turning shiny was really hard. Getting the graphite even dark was tricky! It took forever and was physically painful at times with the repetitive motion of drawing it in.

Favorite part: I don’t know, but I think this is one of my favorite pieces that I’ve done. There’s just something about it that I love!

Least favorite part: The fact that although I love it, it never feels finished. I take it out of the frame once or twice a year and work on some parts of it, fixing shadows, things like that.

Fun tidbits: I always get so many compliments on this piece! It hangs in our house, and I remember we had some friends over for dinner one night, and my girlfriend was staring at it during dinner. I thought something  was wrong, but she said she just couldn’t stop looking at it, that she loved it. When I thanked her, she asked where I got it and I told her I drew it. She didn’t believe me at first!

This piece moves around our house on a regular basis! It has hung in our bedroom, on a wall in our dining room, on two different walls in the living room, and is now on a different wall in the dining room 🙂

The upper left corner where the stars are? The misty part? That was totally unintentional. It was my arm and hand gave out from all the drawing in the dark graphite, but I couldn’t leave it white! So I smudged graphite around a bit, blending it into the white paper, and it turned into the misty area. Because the graphite was too dark to be erased, I painted stars in with white acrylic paint.

Questions on this piece:

Will this be available as prints?

Eventually! I think it might even end up as a note card as well!

 

What imagery comes to your mind when you hear “Daughter of the Universe”?

Q&A: Prints

This week’s topic: Prints!

What are prints?

The easy answer? Prints are basically a printed picture of an original piece of art.

However, there is a lot of work and care that goes into the making of each print. Each piece of my work is either scanned or photographed and then edited on a computer, making sure each print looks as close to the original piece of work as possible. Then I do test prints, making sure the resolution and colors are all good; this is the most stressful time for me as I’m a perfectionist! Once test prints are approved, I will print each image on high quality, acid free cotton rag paper. Once the ink is good and dry, they are each individually sealed with two coats of a special varnish that aids in protecting for water, UV rays, and scratches. They are all hand signed once the varnish is dry, and then packaged up in an acid-free bag with a backer board. The backer board is for packaging and transporting purposes only; it helps the print to not get bent and wrinkled, and is not intended to go into a frame. Right now all of the prints also come with an acid free, archival quality off white mat.

Can all of your pieces become prints?

Unfortunately, no. Some original pieces (like some of my Throwback Thursday pieces) do not have high quality pictures taken of them, so the quality will not be high enough for the prints to be made. Other pieces cannot be made into prints as whoever commissioned the piece has not given me permission to use it for other products.

However, most of them can be! If you see any piece you like either on the blog or somewhere on my website, check the prints section of the store to see if it’s available. If it isn’t, send me an email at shawnaapps@gmail.com and I’d love to try and create it as a print if I’m able!

What sizes are they available in?

Right now just two sizes: 4″ x 6″ (matted to a frame size of 5″ x 7″) and 5″ x 7″ (matted to a frame size of 8″ x 10″). I am looking into expanding the sizes, even doing some images as large as 11″ x 14″ if possible! I am also planning on having prints available without the mats; I know a lot of stores sell frames with mats as well as without them, so having both options available is beneficial to you.

Are all pieces available in all sizes?

No. All pieces can be made into smaller sizes, but not all of them can go bigger. Depending on the medium the piece is originally created with, the piece just doesn’t transfer well to the bigger size. For example, my Snowman piece is adorable as the 4″ x 6″ print. However, I printed it as a 5″ x 7″, and even after re-editing it, it still was very washed out. This is more because my watercolor style is very soft than anything else; a drawing would probably be able to transfer to the bigger size much easier. 

Why do you make prints?

This is a great question. I make prints for one reason: it’s a more affordable way to have art. A lot of people love my work (thanks, guys!), but can’t afford an original piece, and I completely understand that. This is a way for them to have something they love that works with their budget.

Let me know if I didn’t answer all of your questions in the comments below!