Making Progresss by Working Slower

CathrynWorrell_slowandsteady

My main piece of creative work over the past few weeks has been a single drawing. I originally estimated that it would take me 2 weeks to complete but it’s actually taken 3 weeks from start to finish and sometimes that’s felt a bit frustrating.

During this year’s 100 Day Project I often spent hours each day working on a single illustration. It wasn’t good for me but it became a habit and finding a balance again is trickier than I expected.

Because I’m trying to work at a slower, steadier pace again, I’ve been quite strict about how much time I’ve spent working on this drawing each day. This probably skewed my judgement about how long I’d take to get it finished but luckily there wasn’t a hard deadline.

Mouse Timer

To help keep myself in check, I’ve got back to following the example of my friend, Michael Nobbs, and setting my timer for 20 minutes at a time, with my goal being to spend 20 minutes each day working on the drawing.

Sometimes I’ve done 2 or 3 short work sessions in a day, but more often than not I’ve just spent 20 minutes each day on this piece of work. Not only has this meant that the paint can dry between layers but it’s also allowed me to come back to it each day with fresh eyes, which has probably helped me to avoid making mistakes. It also helps me to keep a gentle sense of momentum with my work so that I can see progress without falling into the unhealthy cycle of boom and bust with my energy that I have a tendency towards.

It can feel really satisfying to work on a piece of work from start to finish in one day. What I’m now realising, though, is that the work I made earlier this year would probably have turned out better if I hadn’t tried to produce quite so much of it, or if I’d at least done what I’ve done in the past and set some sort of boundary in terms of the pace or size of my work.

I’ve now reached a point with my current drawing where I’m feeling ready to start a new piece of work and I’m pleased with the way I’ve approached this one. I think it’s been good for me and also good for the person who will own this drawing.

Now the challenge is to maintain this pace and not slip back into unhelpful habits!

 

Urban Sketching in Highgate

CathrynWorrell_KarlMarx_Grave

Earlier this month I went out for the day with Urban Sketchers, London and we sketched in Highgate, in north London. Almost everyone seemed to spend most of the day in Highgate Cemetery, which is where I sketched Karl Marx’s grave, probably one of the most famous there.

CathrynWorrell_Highgate_Cemetery

I also managed to get in another quick sketch from a spot that’s not on the main ‘trail’ in the cemetery and it was very peaceful. This was in my Hahnemuhle grey sketchbook using an HB pencil and a 0.3 Unipin pen.

There’s not much shelter from the elements in Highgate cemetery but we were really lucky with the weather. There was a thunder storm but that held off until the end of the day, by which time most of us were under the shelter outside a cafe back in Waterlow Park.

CathrynWorrell_Pond_Square_Highgate

After lunch and before the rain started I made a start an a third sketch. I ran out of time, and although part of me would like to finish it off at home using a photo for reference, I quite like leaving some of my urban sketches unfinished because they tell the story of the day.

Our next outing’s planned for Spitalfields Market on 14 October so come and join us!

100 Days of Hand Lettering

Today I finished my 100th piece of hand lettering for this year’s 100 Day Project. I’ve made 1 piece of hand lettered work every day since 4th April. It’s been a big challenge and some days I wondered what I’d got myself into. I’ve digitised some work but I actually settled into working in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook a lot of the time. I also combined some of my hand lettering with other work that I was doing on any given day.

Let me know in the comments below which one is your favourite, and if you’ve been working on the 100 Day Project, leave a link to where you’ve been sharing your work.

My Current Daily Art Kit

DailyArtkit

At the moment I’m working on the 365 Days to a Portfolio Project, which involves making 3 illustrations each week, and my 100 Days of Hand Lettering, which I do every single day. I usually combine the 2 when they overlap just to make life a bit easier, but it’s a lot of work. And because I didn’t have enough going on (!) I’m also taking the latest Sketchbook Skool klass as well, which lasts 5 weeks.

I’m sharing my work every day on social media so I thought I’d explain here a bit more about the process and the tools I’m using pretty muc every day. They’re not all pictured here. Most of them are but these are the main things I use each day.

An A4 sketchbook.

I’m using a Seawhite of Brighton Creative Casebound sketchbook, which has nice smooth drawing paper and is hard bound. I’m using that to draw out my hand lettering every day. Sometimes I use pencil first and then ink it but mostly I just use a pen (hence the spelling mistake I made in one of the quotations you can see here!).

Micron pens.

I have a selection of Pigma Micron pens, which I’m using for my lettering and they range from 005 to the Pigma Graphic 1 and they work nicely on the smooth paper in this big sketchbook.

Surface Pro tablet.

I’ve been digitising most of my hand lettering so far and to do that I scan the sketchbook and then clean things up and edit things together in Photoshop so the Surface Pro, together with my Bamboo stylus, comes in handy for that, as does my laptop.

A5 Watercolour Moleskine Sketchbook.

On days when I don’t digitise my hand lettering I use a page in my A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. These are one of my favourite all-round sketchbooks to use regularly. I like the size, the landscape format and they handle watercolour paint pretty well.

Watercolour Paint.

This is my medium-sized palette from Winsor and Newton which I use most days for non-digital hand lettering and other sketches and drawings. The bright coloured blobs of paint inside the lid are gouache paint which I just mix from the tube and clean off every so often.

Paintbrushes.

I use a whole range of paintbrushes but my favourites at the moment are from Rosemary and Co. I especially like this mop brush for creating big washes of colour for backgrounds.

A5 Mixed Media Sketchbook.

This is the sketchbook I use most often. It’s a Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook and I really like the thick paper (although I think my favourite is their Beta sketchbook because the paper has a bit more ‘tooth’). I haven’t tried yet but it’s really smooth so I think it would handle Copic markers nicely.

These are the core of what I use to make my drawings and illustrations each day at the moment. Sometimes I also add in some coloured Uniball pens, Gelly Roll and Gelly Glaze pens, a pencil and watercolour pencils for sketching.

What are you favourite and most useful tools that you use regularly?