Warning, this is a long post, but at the end are my personal reflections on this challenge that I hope will help you too!
Learning Time! (30 Minutes)
Yesterday, I tried making Loomis Method heads on my own while I watching a video and the results were….
So, I re-watched the first video I watched seriously on the Loomis Method, Proko’s first video out of the series to catch what I missed.
In my sketchbook, I wrote specifically what I’m struggling with looking back on the heads I drew. As I watched the video, I looking for the possible solution to those problems, and, sure enough, the solutions were there the whole time!
Sometimes, you need to watch something twice to get it.
But did it work, Ashley?
In the remaining time, I watched another Witcher video and sketched a few Loomis heads without any guidance, and yes, I already see improvements. They look much more solid, much less squished (not squished at all, I might add), and I felt like I had a lot more control over where the heads were facing. Plus, I focused more on the head shape rather than getting obsessed with the features.
Commissions (30 Minutes)
Due to the fact that it was News Years Day, my favorite art store was closed, so I wasn’t able to get a giant tube of Titanium White, which meant I was at a stuck point with my commissions. I will be going to my day job today though, and I’ll get a tube of paint on my lunch break!
So now I know my favorite art store gives its employees holidays off too! Splendid!
So what to do, then? Well… for the Draenei painting, I put a layer of silver acrylic paint on the subject, then finished the background.
A few months back, I painted a portrait on a silver background, and I liked the way it looked, so I’m using it here.
And it’s been slightly less than 30 minutes… so what am I going to do?
… 30 minutes of drawing whatever I want!
Actually, while I was drawing this, I was listening to pep talk which was essentially saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” It was saying that when you are on your journey to reach your goals, there isn’t a linear “I’ll do this, then this, then this, then I’ll win.” You’ll actually be wandering a desert, you’ll fumble, fall down, make mistakes, some of your effort will go to waste and you just need to figure out more what NOT to do rather than what to do.
It was very inspiring. That’s how I’m feeling a bit with my Trello board and getting my art to generate an income. So, that was something I needed to hear. There’s a lot I want to do, and I don’t know what I’m doing. It felt like I was being given permission to work on T-shirts designs on Tuesday then get a price list for commissions made on Wednesday.
Maybe that wasn’t the point, but that’s what I took from it.
Business (1 Hour)
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to PRIORITIZE commissions. The reason is because lots of people are asking me if I take commissions, especially since I started drawing fantasy portraits again, but no one is asking me to make cute coffee T-shirts…
…as much as I want to and spent all evening last night designing this only to realize I can’t sell it because “But First, Coffee” is trademarked, so I’m designing DIFFERENT coffee shirts instead…
So, today, I made a checklist on Trello to get my brain to prioritize that. Complete with deadlines and everything. I want to get my Character Commissions launched by the end of February.
Well, I have a little bit of time before I have to leave for my day job, so here are my reflections since we’re at the end of the 7 Day Challenge!
What was this challenge?
This challenge is to, before I leave for work and on my days off too, dedicate 3 hours of uninterrupted dedication to my art. Learning how to do something new or brush up on something I could improve on (30 minutes), commissions, projects for other people, etc (60 minutes), and working on only the business aspect be that learning how art business works or actively doing something to build my business or brand (website, creating merch, updating platforms less frequently used platforms like Tumblr, Patreon, etc) (60 minutes), then blogging (30 minutes- it always went over though).
Why did I want to do this challenge?
For starters, I was feeling more and more down. Maybe it was mostly the change in weather, but I was feeling less motivated. I went back to sleeping in until the latest possible moment, then most of the time, I didn’t want to do art.
I wanted to go back to working on my art every morning before facing the daily stress that comes with work. I also needed to update my practices. For months, even if I did wake up at 5, I was only spending 30 minutes on art because that’s what worked at a previous job I had where I started work earlier.
Now, my current day job starts later, so I have so much extra time, so it was less motivating to wake up even though I now had extra time to work on my goal of becoming a stay-at-home artist. I would work for 30 minutes, feel a little accomplished, then watch videos for entertainment, which brought in that sinking feeling of guilt that you get when you know you have something due, but you’re actively procrastinating. This wasn’t the case for me, but I still felt like I could have been putting my time to better use.
This challenge was a way to better manage my time outside of work.
Did this challenge accomplishment what I wanted?
Not only did it accomplish what I wanted, but it even brought me things I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. My portraits are improving, but just the learning part helped me feel energized and challenged, I got a lot of work done on my projects, and the business side is much more organized, but I’m also EXCITED about trying so many new things and feeling better about myself as a person for trying something that I will not excel in everything at right away.
I think this was thing that motivated to get up at 5 am the most. When I had this time dedicated just to learning, even if that was brushing up on things I learned a long time ago and needed to maintain. My brain felt stimulated and challenged.
The active learning where I had to force myself to evaluate the progress I was making especially so.
I think it’s important to remember that art is something that you can always be learning how to do better. How to improve and add even more beauty to this world. It was fun to keep progressing and figure out what I did to get over hurdles. Hopefully I can make this a daily thing and learn even more stuff!
I always have something I could be working on. Even though these “commissions” were just things for family members (who tend to be more forgiving when life gets in the way) it felt great to be continually making progress. At times, it was a “Learning Time” in and of itself (What do you do when someone gives you a bad reference?”
Business is a completely separate ball game from art, and I don’t think a lot of artists want to put the time and effort in to make this work (and no wonder, enough time and effort goes into art making as it is). For a while, trying to get the business side of art going was stressful because a) there are so many streams of income that your art can generate and I want to try them all. Sometimes I get excited about one stream of income one day then a different one the next and b) when I did get super into something to promote my business and brand, I would stress that I’m not getting any actual art making done.
This is why I spent an entire hour every day dedicated to it because of how big and how many factors there are.
Trello has been a life saver because I can put my ideas in one place, have checklists and progress bars that give me that sense of, well, you know, progress, and be more organized and less stressed.
I feel like I now have given myself permission to try different and new things and giving myself time to figure out what works best for me. I’m also having fun with it.
Not only that, but what if my effort is for naught? What if I spend hours say, researching how to and designing T-shirts, and nobody buys them?
Well, I learned all this stuff along the way, how online shops work, how marketing works, and I have cute coffee t-shirt designs that I can add to my portfolio in case someone down the line wants to hire me for such a thing.
I’ve been struggling with self doubt and fear of trying new things because what if I spend all this effort only to find I’m just wasting my time? This week, I learned those fears are invalid. None of it was a waste of time, I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, and eventually, something WILL work. Art and art business is hard work.
The alternative is not putting in the hard work, staying still, then coming at the end of my life regretting not putting a little extra time into doing something I loved just because of the excuse, “it’s too hard.”
Sorry, I know this entry was long, but it was meaningful, and thank you so much for going on this journey with me. If you’re an artist, I HIGHLY recommend taking part in this challenge too. I learned a lot and no doubt you will too.
As tradition dictates, I stayed up until midnight, had alcohol, and had a nice, quiet party at home. Didn’t drink too much, so I didn’t wake up hungover, but I did wake up with much little and much less quality sleep. STILL managed to get up at 5 anyway though because my alarm went off and there was no way going back to sleep would improve my sleep quality, so I might as well get up.
To wake myself up more, I took a cold shower and got to work.
Learning Time (30 Minutes)
As kind of a mini celebration, I’ve decided to draw Loomis faces while watching the Cell Block Tango from Chicago.
Hehe… “Artistic differences…”
I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep, but other the side view on the second page here, I wasn’t super happy with them. I’m planning to try again tomorrow and if I’m still not happy with it, I’ll watch the tutorial videos again. I think I need to measure the spacing on the eyes better.
Commissions (1 Hour)
So… I stupidly thought I could get away with using Titanium-Zinc white for the commission I’m working on, but it’s not blending the way actual Titatinium white is supposed to so, I’m going to get a tube of Titanium White today and continue it tomorrow.
So, instead, I spent a whole hour on the Draenei painting!
I drew the preliminary sketch on the gessoed paper that I prepared yesterday. Now that I’ve started painting on it, I can say with confidence now that the Arches canvas paper IS as good I hoped.
Business (WELL over 1 hour)
As many of you know, I have a Redbubble account where I’m selling cute coffee mugs, but did you also know that I have a TeeSpring account with practically NOTHING on there?
End of Commercial.
I want to put these stores to better use, so I spent Business Time researching how to make them more effective.
This morning, I was inspired to research Marketing. I understand that one of my strengths is that I have the ability to create things that you can put on shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
I’m finding that I’m really enjoying having an hour dedicated to just learning and putting into practice strategies on building the business itself.
I should mention that to help organize the business side of art, I created a Trello board. It’s filled with ideas, lists, etc
Since I have no attention span, the Trello board helps keep me focused on organized.
While ideally, I should only be focusing on one project at a time, I’ve never had success with that. Worse yet, one day, I will research on how, as an example, to set a web page and price list for commissions up, but the next day, I want to quit half way through and design coffee mugs instead.
The week after, I’m inspired to continue on the price list, only to find I had no idea where I left off.
Trello fixes that by having a list of all my projects right there with the progress I’ve done on each project so that I know where I was and what resources I was using.
A huge part of this journey is finding out how to be the most productive and reach my goals while working with how my brain naturally works, which I’m finding I prefer to work on a variety of my own projects at once and a smaller amount of time daily dedicated to each one rather than power through one thing at a time as quickly as possible.
This is similar to how I was in school, had a lot of school subjects, but dedicated a certain amount of time to some projects one day and others the next day.
Well guys? One more day to go, and if wake up tomorrow, we’ll have won the 7 Day 3-Hour Workweek challenge! Yaaaaaay!!!
Waking up at 5 am every morning is not impossible! I see that now!
Day 5 of waking up at 5 am and dedicating at least 3 hours to working on art. Every day it feels like it’s getting easier. This morning, I had that feeling again of not wanting to stay in bed because I was too excited! I wanted to get up, learn how to improve my art, work on art I’m making for other people, AND forwarding my art practice as a business.
The most exciting thing about being a neophyte in the art business world is the struggle it takes to get there, and joy you feel from the little wins along the way.
Learning Time (30 Minutes)
I’m sick of the Loomis method… so I’m gonna keep doing it! A huge part of learning art is understanding it’s not all going to be fun. I’m also finding that sometimes it’s hard to learn new things partly because it’s easy to think, “that’s just my style.” Having your own style is great, but I personally believe learning what’s worked well traditionally as much as possible can help you create a unique style that you can get excited about.
It’s more fun to break rules if you know what they are.
I watched another video, and then I spent the rest of my time watching a clip from The Witcher, pausing the video, then drawing heads using the Loomis method. I think for the next couple days, I’m just going to do practice. If I run into problems, I’ll rewatch the most helpful videos.
When actively learning, it’s not enough to follow along to a video, you also need to apply it practically.
Commissions (1 hour)
So… I didn’t do a whole lot with the Draenei commission. All I did was get canvas paper and gesso it. Also! I have affiliate links below, so if you could just click on those I would appreciate it a lot.
I’ve been using this gesso for a while now, and I gotta say, I absolutely love it! Painting on it is really
I’m going to be honest, I haven’t used the oil painting paper yet, but I’ve seen Lena Danya use this paper for a series she did called OilTober (1 small oil painting every day in the month of October and all of her paintings turned out beautiful). So, I’m going to trust that it work… plus it’s a bit spendier than your average every day paper, so it BETTER be worth it!
I’m pretty sure it is though, it really took to the gesso, when I applied it, so I’m already excited thinking about starting the painting tomorrow!
I ended up spending the remaining 30 minutes cleaning up my art studio. Not a bad use of time!
What about the other commission, I hear you ask?
Forgive me, I have to take a moment to publicly praise my mother profusely.
Now, the other commission I’m working on for a family member… the one I haven’t been blogging about… has been very frustrating due to the references I’ve been working from (this has been a valuable lesson in taking commissions when the reference photos- though they might be nice photos- don’t translate well to painting).
Luckily after talking about it to my mom, she IMMEDIATELY found me a reference photo that not only had much better lighting and color, but also the figure was in a somewhat similar pose to the reference photo that was giving me trouble!
Hooray! Thank you Mom!
Business Time (60 Minutes)
More researching on what it takes to set up painting workshops (well, setting up my own drink n’ draw). I contacted a couple local churches I attend as well as looked up references for the painting I want to make. Since I’m planning on hosting these workshops in March, I want to make a pretty landscape with Fethard Castle from Ireland.
It’s really nice to have a chunk of time set up just for the business aspect. Sometimes, when I’m researching business practices, updating my website, Patreon, or other things that are not directly related to art-making, I kind of feel guilty not spending time doing art making, but when I have that time SCHEDULED, I can relax knowing that time is just for business.
Thank you, everyone for sticking with me this long! Let’s see if we can last all 7 days!
Wait… tonight’s New Years Eve.
Tradition dictates that I must stay up until Midnight…
Is it to keep yourself from quitting your task early? Sure, I guess, I thought so anyway, but sometimes, more importantly, they keep you from going too far over!
Learning Time (I don’t know how long, but definitely WELL over 30 minutes)
More Loomis Method studies! I’m already sick of it, but I’m going to keep practicing until that becomes my new habit. I feel like I’m already seeing a drastic improvement in my art, so that makes me very happy!
I followed along this 9 minute video. Which is why I didn’t set my timer, but then, as I think was a good call, I kept pausing the video, re-drawing the exercises, and really tried to make sure I absorbed the work.
The below video by Robert Marzullo was fantastic! While I think Proko did a great job with the practice and introductory side, Marzullo started off going into detail about the shape of head (even mentioning the fact that the top of the head kind of goes up at an angle on the sides which is really helpful. He doesn’t give you too much information at once, and really encourages practice and repetition, which is very important.
So, yes, Learning Time was a lot longer than usual, but that’s not a bad thing.
Commissions (Again, longer than an hour combined)
I finished the drawing of the Draeni! The next step is to draw on canvas paper and start painting it. I was a lot more strict about the time this time.
The private commission though I spent about an hour on it.
Business, Business, Business…
Again, this took more like an hour and a half.
I spent the first half looking up what it would take to get a Drink n’ Draw going… when I realized that after the start up cost (canvases, easles, etc) would be recuperated if everyone attended the first one, It could potentially bring in a lot more money…
So, the second half was dedicated to researching what it would take to get an LLC. I currently get a commission a couple times a year, but if I was to get really serious about making AshMeyerArt into an actual business, I REALLY don’t want the IRS getting grumpy at me.
So, looks like I’ll be failing this challenge somewhat this week. The art gallery I’m working at is currently setting up the new show so, I have to leave early to go to services beforehand. BUT I still got up at 5 am! So this challenge is a success in my book.
Life happens, but this time, not because I slept in!
I thought about completing the rest of my three hours after work, but I will most definitely NOT be able to work on commissions after work. I want to work on commissions when I’m at my best. Drained, tired, and exhausted after a long day at work is NOT my best.
I did do my learning time, and I should be able to do business related time after I get home from work. We’ll see.
I watched the last part of the three part Loomis Method video series I started yesterday about using the Loomis method intuitively (or, drawing mostly from observation, but letting the Loomis method guide you). Since that video was 15 minutes, I watched another video from Fine Art Tips (sometimes it’s helpful to listen to the same technique from different people.)
Breakthrough! So, you ever get these moments where the simplest things just don’t occur to you until they’re explained? Well, for the longest time, I thought that this part of the Loomis head…
… was for the eyes. No. It’s the BROWline, for the eyeBROWS. Hurg. Man this makes so much sense. This has been bothering me for years! I always thought the eyes went there, then I got perplexed as to why the eyes looked so high!
So did I fail? Sure. Technically. Am I excited for tomorrow? Hell yeah!
Commissions (30 Minutes)
Well, it turns out I had some extra time for commissions after all. Not a whole hour, but I spent 30 minutes on the Draeni with the Loomis method in mind. Not. a. bad. deal. I’m going to spend possibly one more hour total on this drawing, then I’ll move it to oil painting paper.
Ha! Ha! Haha! Hahaha! I ALMOST just turned my alarm off and went back to sleep, but I DIDN’T! I think my brain is really liking the idea of getting up and having a set art routine because while normally I would’ve lost this battle, I couldn’t fall back asleep because I was too excited to get to work!
I’m a happy bird! ^_^
So! Here we go!
Learning Time! (30 Minutes)
So, I think my Learning Time is going to focus soley around portraits, at least for this seven day challenge.
Face proportions is something I’m really trying to get better at, so I watched 2 out 3 of Proko’s videos on the Loomis method:
And I followed along!
Learning Time ended up being slightly longer than 30 minutes because one of the video was 12 minutes and the other was 20, but still. Good to have a minimum
Commissions (1 hour, 30 minutes each)
I started painting my private commission, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do because I painted the wash (where you paint the whole canvas a single color), and since I’m going to be painting whites on it next, the wash has to dry. I spent the remainder (and then some) of my time watching a video about making art from bad reference photos (which is the situation I’m currently in, and will not be the last time, I’m sure).
Then I spent 30 minutes working on the final sketch of the World of Warcraft portrait before starting the actual painting. Personally, I don’t think I’m super pleased with the placement of the pauldron (though the client did want to have it accentuated in the piece), but when I showed it to him, his eyes lit up and he said, “Woooow!” So, he’s happy with the progress so far, and since this is his character, his happiness is slightly more important than mine. So all is well. ^_^
Business (~1 Hour)
Now this is the part where I dedicate time, not to actual drawing and painting, but to the business side of art. Whether that would be the website, merch, applying for grants, etc, etc).
I decided to finish uploading my Source of Strength series coffee mugs to RedBubble (I know, it would have been to get that done BEFORE Christmas, but hindsight, 20/20 yadayada.)
Uploading the rest of them took significantly less than hour, but it was something that was nagging at the back of my mind that I’m finally done with, so yay!
I got two of my coffee mugs last week. They’re really great! The printing turned out splendid, they don’t heat up too hot when you pour coffee (as is a problem I’ve run into with cheap coffee mugs), they’ve gone through the diswasher a few times already and the images are still crisp and clean, and I just love them! I only have two, might get the rest of the set at later points, but I’m happy with I have for now. ^_^
I finished the book, Show Me Your Work by Austin Kleon. This little book is a list of 10 steps to getting your artwork out there. Here’s what I learned today:
7. Don’t Turn into Human Spam– I thought “Human Spam” meant being one of those irritating people who is constantly trying to sell your work and push it on others, but it was a lot more than that. It was wanting to sell your work, push it on others, and NOT want participate in other peoples’ work. Don’t be that guy at an art gallery who won’t stop talking about how great your gallery is, how great your projects are, without giving a toss as to what is it about your visitor that made them want to visit to your gallery in the first place (spoiler alert, they’re not coming back). Kleon also recommends that you don’t be that person that drains other people of their energy. Also, make some time to hang out with people in the real worls.
8. Learn to Take a Punch– Let your critics take their best shot, and know when someone is critic or a troll.
9. Sell Out– Often, when someone is accused of “selling out” it’s generally by jealous or scared people who resent or fear the change when someone starts making money from their work. Now, if you’re doing things you don’t enjoy just because that’s what makes money, I think you’re going to burn out very quickly, but yeah, if you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re making more money, then don’t be ashamed!
10. Stick Around. Ironically, this is where the author recommends taking a break, or a sabbatical, but no matter what you do, don’t quit. Take a hiatus, but don’t give up. Always come back.
2. Commission Work (1 hour, 30 minutes each for two commissions)
Same deal as yesterday. I’m working on two different commissions right now, but one of them is too personal to share. The other is a draeni shaman. Yesterday, I got the face that I want, but today I was focusing on the shoulder pads.
Here’s one of the character references the client sent me.
And here’s the face!
There wasn’t enough room on this scratch paper for the shoulder pads, so I had to draw a new picture. I feel like the shoulder pads are blocking the image a bit too much, so I’ll fix that tomorrow.
3. Business Related (Supposed to be 1 hour)
So, it’s supposed to be one hour, but I have to leave for work early today, so it’s only 30 minutes today. I spent 30 minutes on this sketch yesterday, so I spent an hour total on this sketch as an example of a “1 hour sketch” option for when I open commissions.
And that’s it for today guys! I got up at 5am, spent the designated amount of time on each thing, and I’m feeling pretty good!