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Make a MarkOne of the hardest things to do is to look at a blank piece of paper and actually DO something with it.  Sometime the thought "damn, I hope I don't mess this up" rears it's evil head or just simply "what am I going to put on it" can scare you into not doing anything.  It has been my philosophy to just make a mark.  Put something, anything down and get that dreaded blankness gone.  Make a mark, then make another.  Pretty soon you will have something that no one else in the entire world could have done, only you.

Welcome to the school of Make a Mark.



Draw Like Me...DON'T!

Make a MarkGreetings to my 7.3 readers!  I enjoy spending an hour or so looking at what folks put out on Youtube.  Albeit learning a new technique on the guitar, watching someone do something extremely stupid and laughing my butt off at them, or learning something new and exciting about art.  I did however, see a video the other day that truly bothered me. In the beginning of the video, it said in bold capital letters "WANT TO DRAW LIKE ME?"  I thought the hyper realistic drawing of SpiderMan looked cool at the end of the video, but in the end I have to say "NO, I DON'T WANT TO DRAW LIKE YOU, I WANT TO DRAW LIKE ME!"  I am not disrespecting the talent of the person who created the video as he obviously spent years learning his technique.  If I'm disrespecting anything, it's his bold statement then not taking the time to do some type of instruction along with the video.  But that's just me being a bit bitchy.

I don't want, nor can I draw like anyone else but me.  I may use techniques that other's have discovered many years before I was born, but I will only and always be able to draw like me.  I have had students say, "I wish I could draw like you" and I always reply with a comment that on the surface sounds rather brash.  "You can't draw like me."  Jeez what a jerk!  Fear not, I do follow it up with "You can only draw like you, and that's a good thing.  I will never be able to draw like you as I can only draw like me."  What!?!?  

I can only inspire someone to draw or paint.  They might learn my techniques but their life experiences are different than mine and their influences are different than mine, thus their drawings and paintings will be different than mine.  I was first influenced by the Sunday funny pages.  Peanuts, The Born Looser, Dennis the Menace, and Tumbleweeds among others.  Then I learned about Don Martin from Mad Magazine and my first steps into drawing real people, Marvel Comics.  When I got older, some of my friends were drawing things that I could only dream of drawing and I made the statement "Jee, I wish I could draw like them."  We all progress at our own speed and it depends on the amount of time we dedicate to what I'll call our hobby.  So I spent many hours drawing, sketching, scribbling, crossing out, being frustrated, then making something pretty cool.  

When I learned about other artists, Michaelangelo, Rembrant, Leonardo Di Vinci, Norman Rockwell, Richard Amsel, and Drew Struzan, my style and technique changed.  So, my style is a combination of cartoon, fine art, and illustration.  These are the influences make me the artist that I am.  Every mark that I make is based upon the artist that have influenced me throughout my life.

So go out and get influenced!  Copy a Rembrant or something drawn by Jim Lee or my friend Jason Palmer.  Learn something new and when you do I'd love to hear about it.  The only way that we get better at anything is learning something new.  Now that you're influenced, go out and make a mark.


P.S. Another great influence is nature.  Get outside and learn what influences the beauty of nature can teach you.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

Make a MarkToday I would like to talk about repetition.  When I was younger, I used to look at drawing or painting the same thing over and over as both boring and showing a complete lack of imagination.  Why in the world would you want to draw the same thing over and over again?  Especially if you killed it the first time!  Honestly, just drop the mic and walk away and start another piece that is completely different.  Several years ago, I  changed my way of thinking and it took a computer crash to instigate this change. 

One day at work I was almost done with this rather cool piece I was working on in Adobe Illustrator.  Then "IT" happened.  The sound of heavenly music came from the Mac and an icon of a frowny faced computer came onto the screen for a second or two then the screen went dark.  "Well that can't be good" I thought and I noticed that the computer had completely shut down.  With my fingers crossed I started the computer and low and behold the thing fired right up.  I knew I would have to redo part of my illustration since I hadn't saved before the computer died, but it was far worse than that.  The death of the computer corrupted the illustration and I had to start from scratch.  CRAP!  Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining or so I am told, you just have to look for it.  In this instance, the silver lining was this: I created the second illustration faster than I did the first and it was better that the original piece that I was working on.

During my years as a graphic designer, having a computer malfunction that ruins the project that I'm working on has happened several times.  So if you work on a computer...SAVE YOUR STUFF!  If you like to draw or paint things, do it more than once.  I remember the first several drawings that I did of Ray Hunt, a poor versions I admit that had glimmers of things to come, led in the end to the final piece.  As Ray himself had said on many occasions "Perfect practice makes perfect."

Below, are two images that I created in a 3D application.  There is about six months and four different versions between the two images and you can see how repeatedly doing the same image can work out to some really great results.  

Now get out there and make a mark.  Then make that same mark again.  I bet after you make that mark for the eighth or ninth time it's a hole lot better than the first.


Duncan Duncan II

Sketching and Stuff

One of the biggest errors that people make when they are beginning to draw is that they are "trying to draw."  Hey isn't that what we're trying to do here?  Yes, and no.  Every good drawing starts with an equally good, if not better, sketch.  

SKETCH (skech)

  1. a simple or hastily executed drawing or painting, especially a preliminary one, giving the essential features without the details.
  2. a rough design, plan, or draft, as of a book.

The above definition is from and for today's lesson I think it works quite well.  I would however, like to add to draw lightly.  One of the easiest ways to draw lightly is to hold your drawing tool lightly.  If you look down and see that the tips of the fingers that are holding the pen are nearly white, you're holding it too tightly.  Put it down and take a walk.  No, seriously, walk away for a little bit and relax.  Hey, it's just a sketch, relax and have fun!

Holding your pen or pencil too firmly is not your fault.  No, it's not!  Stop saying that it is!  You have been trained your entire life to grasp your writing utensil firmly when writing.  However, you are not writing, you are sketching so hold that pen or pencil as loosely as possible.  A loose grip will result in a loose and free sketch and that could end up a very loose, free, and hopefully interesting drawing.  Don't worry of you continue to be a bit heavy handed at first, with practice lightness will come.  I promise!

Pull out that sketchbook and the drawing tool of your choice and get to sketching.  Have fun and make a mark!



The Camera in my Mind

I have always enjoyed drawing from the images that are running around in my head.  No matter what someone says about it I know that the drawing is and what it's supposed to look like.  Sometimes, the image is put there by a book that I am reading, or a movie that I have watched.  More than likely though, it's from something that I have seen in the world around me.  I call those images "drawings from the camera in my mind."

Since the reference material is limited to what I have seen and the way that my mind has interpreted/remembered it, it will never look exactly like the thing that I saw hours, days, or even weeks before.  Heck there are some images that I haven't drawn yet that are literally years old.  It's kind of like taking a picture with a film camera and not having the film developed.  Eventually though, the images end up in a drawing and sometimes they even look like I want them to look.  If you use the camera in your mind for your reference, don't expect it to look exactly like what you saw.  Unless that is you have an eidetic memory in which case I say go for it pal!

If I want something to look like the thing that I saw, I'll pull out a reference image and work from that.  Since almost all of us have a smart phone with us these days, take a photo if you can of something that you find interesting.  Then refer to that.

Wether you use the camera in your mind or the camera in your phone, have fun and make a mark!


Basic Shapes

I enjoy drawing in public.  If I'm in a restaurant, doctors office, the DMV, anyplace where I am waiting for something to happen I like to pull out a drawing pad and a pencil or pen.  You would be surprised how many people that I get to meet by doing this.  Many come up and say "oh you're really talented," which is a great boost for my ego, while others look longingly and lament how they would like to draw.  This is how a typical conversation goes:

Stranger: Oh, that's so nice!

Me: Thank you.

Stranger: Have you been drawing a long time?

Me: Since I was three or four.  It was how my mom kept me quiet in church when I was little.

Stranger: (Laughs) I wish I could do that.

Me: Why don't you?

Stranger: I can't draw.

Me: Sure you can, you just have to learn how to see.

Stranger: Huh?

Me: You know what the basic are right?  A circle, a square, and a triangle.

Stranger: Yes, but what does that do with drawing?

Me: If you can make those shapes, you can draw anything.

Stranger: Really?

It's at this point that I will point out some light fixture ore piece of cabinetry that at first glance looks like it would be very difficult to render.  We then start looking for the basic shapes and I sketch them very quickly.  It is at this point that the once stranger is normally turned into an art buddy.  I can't tell you how many times I have people telling me they were going to go home and try it out.

One big comment that I receive is "I'll never be able to draw like you." and that's a true statement.  Here's another true statement, I will never be able to draw like you!  I see the world though my eyes, from my perspective.  How in the world could I see things or even draw thinks the way you do?  

Now it's your turn.  Forget what your eyes are seeing, it's not a cabinet, it's just a bunch of rectangles.  When you break something down to just the shape, drawing becomes easy.  Don't worry if your sketch doesn't turn out perfect.  Get another piece of paper and make some more marks on it!

Hey, go make a mark!