Welcome to 2017! Learn-Grow Drawing

My first Learn-Grow of the year, an attempt to render the Truckee River’s “silvery rills” from our walk today.

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Overland Passages! I’m so excited for this year to start and to spend it learning and sharing things that interest me, I love, or, sometimes, that cause me pain, or anxiety, or despair. All of it geared toward learning.

A few weeks ago I started a post thread called “Learn-Grow,” in which I am going to share the results of choosing to learn to do something or to do something better that has always interested me, but that I’ve always felt I didn’t have the time or the blah-blah whatever to do. 

One of these things is drawing and I thought it would be a great way to begin the new year to get back to it and to continue the lessons I started in the last post.

There are 2 activities from the lesson on enhancing visual intelligence that most interested me the last time that I wrote on this that I want to focus on for now:

  1. Maintain a Sketchbook: Render at least one drawing of an actual object or person every day from memory.
  2. Draw Mental Images: Imagine an object or living being and draw what you are visualizing in as much detail as possible.

I don’t know if keeping a  sketchbook every day is going to work, but I’m going to do at least 2-3 a week, even if they are only a line. Also I’m going to play around with drawing digitally and with pencil. Since these 2 lessons are pretty related I am also going to just sort of conflate them into one. I am not going to share all of the results of this experiment, but I’ll try to keep my readers up to date on my progress good or bad.

The first challenge to this is trying to separate memory and image. I’ve become such a prolific capturer of moments that sometimes I’m not sure if my memory is digital or real. So the “from memory,” and “imagine” portions of these lessons could be some of the more difficult aspects (other of course than really drawing, but at least I know that I’m not good at that so it doesn’t matter so much).

The second immediate challenge is deciding how to keep this digitally organized. I am a bit obsessed by apps and so I’ve spent a good bit of time tonight deciding how I’m going to organize these. The pencil ones are easy enough, just snap a pic of a real object, but the digital ones are more of a challenge. I used to really love this app called Paper 53 as it let you organize drawings (never many, but you know), into a beautiful interface of notebooks. They have since updated, in my opinion much to the worse, to make the app more utilitarian and I’m just turned off by it, as well as they really want you to use their Pencil, an aftermarket stylus. So that’s not going to work. Instead I’m going to sketch in Procreate, the best art app I’ve seen, although just a little heavy, not much in the way of organization. So I’ll just export and save them into my journaling app, Day One. I’m sure this will evolve, so I’ll keep you up to date on that as well.

Thanks so much for reading these crazy jots and again, welcome to 2017, let’s enter it bravely and make it ours! 

Learn-Grow on Drawing


A doodle of the dusk. 

The idea that I should share what I learn rather than what I know (or think I know) has become a guiding principle in my approach to the world lately. It came to me through this blog; I decided that the goal for my posts should be writing about something that interests me, or that I have done, but with the challenge of learning and sharing something new about my subject.

The overall basic principle of it is that we grow through learning. That the chlorophyll of our minds is putting new learned information into it, and that sticking with stale or safe beliefs or pieces of knowledge is petrifying.

This thought process led me to consider what I want to learn more about, and that is how this new category of the blog came into being. My thought is to pick things I’ve always been interested in and to start to learn them, and to share the process with my dear readers.

I’ve been interested in drawing for some time, and I even have notebooks filled with doodles and drawings, but my education in drawing is pretty meager, so for my first Learn-Grow post series I am going to take on the challenge of deepening my knowledge of drawing and in sharing this journey. I am not sure exactly how this path will go, but I think that will also be part of the fun.

Since my time and budget is pretty limited, I am going to start this first through free drawing apps. I hope maybe to turn this into real personal instruction, but one step at a time. After deciding this, I looked around for learn-to-draw programs and websites, and eventually chose one called Drawspace, mainly because it had the interface I liked the most, but I think I’ll try at least a few of them.

The free options are fairly wide ranging here to get started, and for my first two lessons I chose pretty introductory ones: “Welcome to Drawing from Line to Life” and “Enhancing Your Visual Intelligence.”

“Welcome to Drawing from Line to Life,” is, as it sounds, an introduction and didn’t have too much in the way of assigned tasks, although the drawing of these two adorable border terriers (just like my dear dear Coco) warmed my heart (and made me want choke up a little). It also had some interesting information on pencil hardnesses and on sharpening pencils.

Drawing of border terriers!

The second lesson, “Enhancing Your Visual Intelligence,” was more intriguing for the confines of a long car drive and things to think about on a busy weekend. It is basically a way of thinking about training your brain and vision to actively participate in the creative process.

“You can enhance visual intelligence by challenging your brain to find alternate perceptions beyond the obvious and to identify more than one reality in a single image.”

There are a number of exercises here that I would like to try, so this lesson will probably go over a few posts, but for this weekend the only actual exercise we did was to examine clouds. (In all fairness, something we often do anyway.) On Renee and I’s post-ride walk we looked at and talked about the shapes in the clouds after the rainy day we had on Saturday. In one, I saw a pizza cutter and Renee saw a mermaid fetus, quite an illustration of the variations the brain can pick out of a cloud.

Not from this weekend but a very evocative cloud shape!

Do you see anything in this sky scape? Leave notes in comments!

More to come soon …