Taking the Challenge. EDM Challenge #1: Draw your shoe

I decided to try tackling the EDM Challenge after a multi-year hiatus. The Challenge is an incredibly inspiring and motivating series of exercises devised by the wonderful Karen Winters. It initially began in the EDM Yahoo group but has now become a part of the EDM Flickr and Facebook groups too.

Each week, Karen posts a prompt for a drawing subject and zillions of people tackle the challenge and post their results. It’s a great opportunity to compare and learn from others. You can find the list of challenges in the files section of each of those groups. Also I have included a page on this site with the list.

I’ve decided to go back a half dozen years and start at the beginning with EDM #1: Draw a shoe. I hope to tackle a new one each day or so (unless life intrudes in some horrid way or I lose interest, as is my wont).

I drew this shoe with my new Lamy Safari Fountain Pen, Charcoal Broad Nib (L17B) filled with Noodler’s Bulleproof Black ink. This Noddler’s ink is perturbing me a bit these days. Even when I leave it to dry for hours, it can be a little less than waterproof at times and can add a black tinge to my watercolors. It seems to vary by the paper, so I am not giving up on it yet. But I do love the handfeel of this big fat nib; it’s sorta like drawing with a charcoal stick.

I drew the shoe as a contour drawing, tracing around each hummock of shoelace and protruding bit of tongue. Then I want back in and drew the interior bits, making sure the laces crossed where they outghta, and that the nose of the shoes wasn’t too snub or too elephantine. At this stage the drawing looked amateurish and flat. So I added some cross hatching in places ( I always vow not to do shading and then give in and add light and shade. I just can’t keep myself to just drawing in pure line) and filled in the interior of the shoe. Then I took out another, older pen, my Lamy Safari Charcoal Extra Fine Point ( L17EF) and drew in the little holes and stitching and added another layer of crosshatching.

I was still wrestling with how to capture the lovely grey suede of my new shoe, so I hauled out my Daniel Smith paints and used a grey, Sodialite Genuine, keeping things fairly flat as I really wanted to make  a drawing rather than a painting. Next I added a coat or two of Cadmium Yellow   and a dash of Doctor Martin’s lemon yellow for good measure (I bought these shoes primarily for their canary yellow, delightfully cushioned soles).

Finally I wrote about my new shoe with the trusty ol’ steel nibbed dip pen.

The composition is a bit wonky as my page is square and my shoe is oblong but it’ll do for a twenty-minute drawing before breakfast.

On to the next challenge.

Oh, and if you have drawn EDM #1 and would like to share it, please post it somewhere (Facebook or Flickr or on your blog) and tell me where I can see it.

30 thoughts on “Taking the Challenge. EDM Challenge #1: Draw your shoe”

  1. Well, finally!! Someone else has issues with the Noodler’s Bulletproof not being waterproof!! That is why whenever I see someone using a fountain pen and watercolor I ask what ink they are using. I stopped using my fountain pens and went back to the Pigma Microns. I love using a fountain pen though. Glad to know it is not just me.


      1. Last year I wrote to Noodler’s and this was Dick Egolf’s (President & CEO of Luxury Brands, LLC) reply:

        Noodler’s Bulletproof inks become waterproof because the bond with the cellulose in the paper. However, they can only be absorbed through approximately 3 layers of the paper. Any excess will remain on top of the paper and that is what is causing your smearing effect.


        1. That is very interesting, Sheryl. I don’t know how to determine how many layers my paper has but just knowing that the ink should not be too thick is helpful. I have had different experiences with different sorts of paper but your info explains what factor impacts the waterproof ability of the ink. Thanks so much for taking it to the top of the vast Noodler empire and returning with gold.


        2. Yes, I was pretty perturbed myself last year, as I mentioned. After watching your first breakfast video I discovered the Fabriano Venezia books and had the problem with the Noodler’s ink and the Platinum Carbon ink from Japan. I don’t remember it happening with the Daler-Rowney spiral books I started with, but that paper was not meant for watercolor and buckled a lot. I love the Fabriano sketchbooks but honestly cannot figure out which paper to use with my fountain pens and either of those inks. I think the weather has something to do with it too–maybe it sits on the surface without drying more during the humid Philadelphia (and Abruzzo) summer months. It has happened in both places. Glad if I gave you useful info. Thank you for all of the inspiration you give.


  2. I was having the opposite problem with the Noodler’s Black, hoping it would bleed a bit to make a grey wash when I went by with my water brush. Nada. Nothing. And it hadn’t been on the page more than a minute. I have had the other side of the coin as well, though, so who knows? The bottle I am currently using was purchased at least 5 years ago, though. Maybe that’s a difference?


  3. Danny I love this post. I have the same pen & nib & ink and the same problem with Noodlers, it seems on paper where the ink does not sink in easily, such as some watercolor paper. If it sits on the surface it smooshes later under the watercolor. Anyway,I get motivated by you and your stuff! Thanks for posting!


  4. Danny, I love your books and your posts…. I took your class at the Open Center several years ago, and it literally changed my life. I have given your book… Creative license… to so many people. So today, I decided to start the EDM challenge, and I posted #1 on the EDM Facebook site! Thanks


  5. Danny, I’m sure it will be great fun to compare your current series with what you did years ago when going through the challenge. You certainly have a great start going here. With regard to the ink issue, I’d suggest giving the Platinum Carbon Ink a try. You can order a sample of it here if you don’t want to get a whole bottle without trying it first: http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Sample_Platinum_Carbon_Black_p/is-plat-inkc-1500-1.htm . The Noodler’s Bulletproof Black only becomes waterproof when it contacts the cellulose of the paper. Sized paper can interfere with that reaction. The Platinum Carbon Black is much more waterproof. Noodler’s Lexington Gray is also totally waterproof, if you like not-quite-black inks.

    I’m really looking forward to getting your new book when it comes out. That was a very touching video you made about it.


  6. Danny, it was exciting to see your post on our Facebook page. I love your drawing and the details on your tools and materials. I did the June challenge with the Every Day in June/July Facebook group and really improved my drawing skills. I bought your book “An Illustrated Life,” and was so inspired that I drew it for EDiJuly challenge #3, Draw A Book. I’d been trying to be a painter when I’m really a drawer…Thanks so much!


  7. “i also recommend the shoes” …hihihi…you are so funny!! :0)

    I’ll try to keep up with the challenge …if i don’t …please …someone …has to give me some “s…t”…it helps to get me back on track….:0)


  8. Hei. I have recently bought (and read) your book Every Day Matters. I must say it inspired me to go back to an old passion of mine, which used to be drawing. For some reason I let it go and now that I started doing the challenges (trying to start from #1 and go as far as I can) I have been surprised to see I’ve been too busy to notice all the beauty around me. Thanks to your book, now I am addicted to drawing. I stopped being too critical with myself and keep on drawing with the hope that one day, as you said, “the landscape will change”.
    I’m still at the beginning, but if you like to drop by and have a look, you are welcome.

    EDM#1 - draw a shoe


  9. Can’t tell you how delighted I am to see you doing the challenges. It is such an encouragement to all who have gotten started in this journaling adventure to see what you choose to draw each day with the prod that Karen has listed. Doing the list has helped me so much distract myself from the sorrow of losing my husband and daughter in law. It has given me a purpose for a few moments each day and lots of wonderful new friends on Flickr. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I,m trying to get the word out on my Flickr page each day, so others can enjoy you sketches too!


  10. Thanks for planting the idea in my brain that I want to do the challenges as well. I’ve managed 2 so far – I’m not a very quick sketcher. (Although, the sketching is not SO slow, it’s the coloring/painting that takes me longer.) Here’s what I’ve completed in the last two days:
    Draw your shoe: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sketchingchris/7516143928/in/photostream
    Draw a lamp: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sketchingchris/7516144172/in/photostream

    I hope I’ll find the time to go on with this challenge – I’m enjoying it very much! (And it means I have to tackle my weaknesses and try things I wouldn’t have tried otherwise!)


  11. […] start is working through some of the Everyday Matters prompts. I was inspired recently by seeing Danny Gregory start on the list (again). And then Tammy at Daisy Yellow decided to do the set, […]


  12. I saw a posting on Daisy Yellow, and hopped over here. I decided to take the EDM challenge
    and work my way through the list to sSee if my drawing skills are still there. I sure did my portion of drawing back in the days when I was in art school. I was curious to see how rusty my skills would be when I would start drawing ‘the real stuff’ again… it has been 25 years but I was happily surprised by my own work. You can find EDM #1 here: http://www.maritspaperworld.com/blog/?p=7637 (I will upload it to flickr too)


  13. Hi Danny, I’m a friend of Jane LaFazio and have been a quiet admirer of you and your work for awhile. I teach art at a continuation high school and have showed your work to my students as inspiration. I don’t have much time to paint anymore, but every summer break I try to do little drawings in my sketch book. I’m following your challenges this year! Today I finished # 5. I’m posting on my facebook page if you want to see. After I draw, I always remember how good it makes me feel and I think…”Why don’t I do this more often??” Retirement is only a few years away! Keep up the great work! https://www.facebook.com/susan.clark.35


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