How I make art before I make coffee.

Recently I was invited to participate in a lovely series called “The Original” Documented Life Project™”. Guest artists are asked to document their process in making a piece. I was emailed the following assignment:

“The theme for this month is ‘MAKING YOUR MARK (DOODLES & MARK MAKING). The art challenge for this week is ‘AS A FOCAL POINT’, and the prompt is ‘COMING INTO FOCUS”

I’m not always awfully good at following assignments so I just sort of did what I do. I hope they like it.


 

1dog-focus
The theme is “Coming into Focus.” It’s 7:17 a,.m. and I am decidedly not in focus yet. I need coffee and ink.
2-coffee
Purists may cringe, but I will be enjoying Trader Joe’s Half Caff® this morning.  In my advancing years, I find that if I drink a small amount of full-bore caffeinated coffee, I will snap peevishly at people all morning, be wrung out all afternoon, and wake up at 3 am, thinking about my tax return.
3-bread
This is pretzel bread.  It’s sort of a baguette but crustier and slightly salted.  Most importantly it makes nice crumb, pits, and crevices — ideal for close-up drawing.
4-eggs
Drawing, like all grueling physical activities, requires protein. Like Kevin Bacon*, I take mine in ovoid form. These are large brown eggs, free-range, organic, anti-biotic, hormone and steroid free. Despite all that palaver,  they still taste great with some Tabasco.
5-breakfast
This looks like a balanced breakfast — compositionally, if not nutritionally. But, before I can eat it, I must make Art Before Breakfast (yes, that’s the name of my new book, available wherever life-changing books are sold).
6-supplies
My trusty art cart. Ready to roll at any hour.
First I do a contour drawing with a brush pen, drawing the outlines of the major shapes.
First I do a contour drawing with a brush pen, drawing the outlines of the major shapes. Honestly, before I’ve had my coffee, this is about all the detail I can handle.
8-contour-details
Next, I draw some of the inside shapes. I define the contents of the plate, which keep jeering, “Eat me!”
9-shadows-lines
The shadows are super-long so I add their outlines next.
10-watercolors
I open my watercolor palette (various brands all squeezed into a metal box) and a big, fat, soft brush.
 I mix up some diluted Payne's grey and add the shadows.
I mix up some diluted Payne’s grey and add the shadows.
The shadows need  a second coat so I add more Payne's grey  so you can see its cool blue nature. It's the Miles Davis of colors and my favorite.  I eat it by the tube.
The shadows need a second coat so I add more Payne’s grey so you can see its cool blue nature. It’s the Miles Davis of colors and my favorite. I eat it by the tube.
13-toast-details
As the shadows dry, I scrutinize the crusty surface of the bread slices, pretending I am an astronaut mapping Planet Crumb. I use a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen (WS-BS 150, for you pen nerds).
14-toastB-details
Next I visit and chart the sister planet, Crusto Maximus.
15-coffee-details
There’s a lot of stuff going on inside my french press and now that I am pretty much awake, I can draw all the grounds and bits.
16-doc-martins
Good morning, sunshine! I pick out a couple of lovely yellows from my Doc Martin’s collections ( I have a bottle of every color they make and love to guzzle it).
17-yolks
I hit the juice and the yolks with a blend of two tones and various degrees of diluted Doc M. Pop!
I like my coffee with three or four browns and a purple.
I like my coffee with three or four browns and a purple.
I try to approximate the various light values as the sunshine passes through the deep lagoon of java.
I try to approximate the various light values as the sunshine passes through the deep lagoon of java.
Time to toast the bread with the same palette of browns and purple.
Time to toast the bread with the same palette of browns and purple.
While the paint is still wet, I sprinkle in some salt to suck up moisture and make an interesting texture.  Plus, it tastes better.
While the paint is still wet, I sprinkle in some salt to suck up moisture and make an interesting texture. Plus, it tastes better.
Okay, I'm starving and  the eggs are getting cold. So I pause to digest my subject.
Okay, I’m starving and the eggs are getting cold. So I pause to digest my subject.
As I eat, I think about the day ahead. I drew some hasty sketches to make up my to-do list.
As I eat, I think about the day ahead. Then, burp, I drew some hasty sketches to make up my to-do list. I use a dip pen and India ink. Which reminds me, I think I’ll have Indian for lunch.
Full tummy? Time for a little white pencil to add highlights and reflections to the glass 'n' crockery. Burp.
Time for a little white pencil to add highlights and reflections to the glass ‘n’ crockery.
I give my page a headline.
I give my page a headline.
I do a little journaling, commemorating the day, counting my blessings, splattering some ink.
I do a little journaling, commemorating the day, counting my blessings, splattering some ink.
The sketches look a little sketchy so I hit 'em with  a fresh coat of sepia Doc's. Martins.
The sketches look a little sketchy so I hit ’em with a fresh coat of sepia Doc’s. Martins.
Okay, time to do the dishes and get on with my day.
Okay, time to do the dishes and get on with my day.
What th'?  I left out a couple of letters. Squeeze em in, man!
What th’? I left out a couple of letters. Squeeze em in, man!

* I love Kevin’s latest.

 

95 thoughts on “How I make art before I make coffee.”

  1. Very nice, Danny. They will love it. I’ve been drawing regularly since I read Everyday Matters years ago, and last year and this year I did the Documented Life Project. More inspiration to enjoy the moment and really see!

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  2. I was super excited when i saw your name on the DLP list of guests at the beginning of the year, and even more thrilled to see what you’ve done of the prompts, I’m sure they’ll love it. I love your style as usual, I wish i could draw that well.

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  3. Thank you, Danny for joining us on The Documented Life Project. I am loving your breakfast! Your approach to your process was very informative and entertaining! My favorite combo. Looking forward to seeing your new book.

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  4. Danny, this is phenomenal! Like it? We LOVE it! Your interpretation of the challenge is genius! Thanks so much for being our featured artist this week and letting us into your head as you ‘document’ your morning breakfast ritual – I don’t think I will ever look at my breakfast quite the same way! You are a class act!

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  5. Thank you thank you so much! What a creative spin I could put on my morning prayer and gratutude/to do list! What a way to start the day vs grumbling at the early hour of the alarm.

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  6. Fun, informative and a cool end result…with the rest of the day ahead of you! Yay! Thanks for the neato-keen tutorial!

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  7. Fun.
    I’m not such a purist, especially in the morning, for breakfast, the only meal I really cannot do without. So, I make it and should I want to draw it I’d take a photo of it with my cell phone, then eat it – not the cell phone – then draw it. Full tummy preceding full art conscience 😉

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  8. Wow..i loved reading and gawking at your every mark..as i sit hear eating practically the same thing..although not as pretty looking…I love how you took us through each step with ease..and shared some of your mark making tools..it looks great and im so inspired to maybe capture my dinner tonight..Thanks for a great spread..!

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  9. Loved your gorgeous breakfast spread..Thanks for sharing your tools and process..I was reading while eating basically the same breakfast..although it did not look nearly as beautiful..I may capture my dinner tonight..thanks for such great inspiration..!

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  10. Thanks Danny….I always get a new “tip” whenever I watch or listen to you. Have a GREAT first full day of spring! Can’t wait for the next sketchbook skool klass to begin.

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  11. I absolutely love this and the page spread/journaling is awesome. I want that cart, where did you get it? The pile of tools and paper next to my reading and drawing chairs is growing to unmanageable proportions.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your process – the step by step outlined above is revealing and helpful. I have some of those Dr. Martins dyes somewhere around here from college, I’ll have to pull them out, I wonder if they are still good!!!

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  13. Danny, Thank you, your art is a great inspiration ! I love how you developed the challenge.
    Looking forward to document my breakfast as you did. Your Sketchbook Skool on line is also amazing.

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  14. oh my, oh my, oh my! This made my whole entire day- I mean weekend…I mean month! This made me laugh, take stock of my day and rethink my breakfast too! I am so so happy to finally see what you were thinking and am hooked on your stories! You totally rocked this, like you do all things! KUDOS!

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  15. take two. i think my first comment is floating around in cyber space! oh my this is so awesome! It really made me laugh out loud, take stock of my day and rethink breakfast for sure! Your cheerful, witty outlook on everything is contagious! this truly made my week! You totally ROCKED this , as you do all things! KUDOS!

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  16. IF i waited to draw the eggs they would be in the garbage disposal. Eggs — and only eggs — must be eaten hot. Nice layout. I make coffee and draw whatever while water is heating and coffee is stewing in French press. If I didn’t do that I might never make a mark as I run a full time business . . .

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  17. This is wonderful…the pictures, the commentary, the spread, your imagination. Just the whole thing. Happy to meet you in blogland through DLP. Thanks for participating

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  18. OHMY Gregory – thanks so much for taking us through your ‘breakfast ritual’… I love to watch all the steps in the drawing. I am a ‘morning writer’ instead of drawing, but I might try a drawing tomorrow (after my first sip of coffee… I really need at least one sip of extra strong coffee before I can do anything at all! Have a great weekend!

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  19. Hi, I’m visiting from the Documented Life Project. I love your journal page. It is so fun and sketchy. I like that you don’t seem to take yourself or the project too seriously. I loved it when you said… well, I just kind of do my own thing.

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  20. I am so excited that you agreed to be a featured artist with us! I absolutely LOVE your page and laughed all the way through the commentary. What a delight to read about your process and gain more insight into how it all came together. Thanks so much for sharing with such detail and for joining us!! If you are ever in Asheville, NC I recommend Mela for dinner. Their Pudina Naan and Madras Jihnga Masala are amazing! http://melaasheville.com/ Have an awesome weekend!

    Like

  21. I just loved your interpretation of the DLP prompt this week!!! …and I really love your clever pictorial/writing style. Quite fun to read!!! Thank you so much!!!

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  22. Thanks for the invite to breakfast! Enjoyed it and your entertaining banter. Nice addition of brownish color in the Miles Davis grey. Loved how you included tiny sketches of your to do list. Great interpretation of the inspiration, thanks so much.

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  23. Hello Danny! What sunshine you bring in your art and your attitude. Everything seems happy. I really enjoyed watching your creative process. Hope your don’t mind me saying this but if you added a bowl of fruit, say berries, to your meal it would be healthier and also give a little color to your piece. Can’t help myself saying it I guess it is the health coach in me. Hope you have a wonderful day and thanks so much for sharing your art and a little piece of you,

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  24. I’ve loved you since your first Breakfast, and this one is equally delicious, even if I don’t eat eggs or drink coffee! Thanks for reminding me why I art journal!

    Like

  25. I’m taking note of your blog, since I visited via art5academy. Funny, fun and instructive. I smiled the whole while, and I am fascinated. I’m telling my son who sketches to check out your work. I love words, I love visual art, and I love coffee. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. Well this made me 1) hungry and 2) depressed thinking I will never be able to even draw eggs LOL Great post and page made me laugh out loud!

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  27. Fabulous! I love the drawing and your typography. Thank you for leading us through your process. I have been eyeing up that Dr Martin’s ink for a while so I am pleased it got your seal of approval. I am doing the DLP too. I am still fermenting an idea for this week’s prompt. PS Your breakfast looks delicious.

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  28. Thanks Danny for sharing this – There’s so much useful info here. Beautifully presented in a cogent and humorous personal way. Great for SBSer’s. A couple of nerdy questions – what size sketchbook are you using? Sequentially do you always do your headline and journaling notes after drawing?
    Timewise, about how much time are you allowing for that not including photos of course?

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  29. This is great… love seeing your step-by-step as I have been making small sketches of my meals before eating for the last 3 weeks. Now I am ready to break out and do something larger and more detailed. Thanks for the inspiration. AND I am loving your Art Before Breakfast book.

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  30. Loved your post and seeing your process! Sensible, humorous, and is making me hungry! Love Payne’s grey and Doc Martin inks- always favorites in my studio as well. Loved all your details!

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  31. Thank you for the entire post and prompt Danny! Having breakfast while I journeyed thru was all the better. Thank you for your refreshing reminder of how wonderful (essential) early morning art can be. 🐷 There should be a bacon emoticon!

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  32. This is just fabulous! I am in love with watercolors and enjoy seeing how others use them. What a great way to do art before/with breakfast. I have to admit I was worried about your eggs getting cold!

    If you have a sec, I’d love to know what kind of journal you are using. I like the idea of one that can take the watercolor without too much bow and lays flat with the nice binding. Been on the search…Thanks!!

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  33. What an awesome post! Inspiring and so funny. Thank you for putting a smile on my face and stirring my creative soul with your process.

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  34. Love your sketch!! I love sketches with watercolors. It’s the vision I had of what Art is to me when I began my journey into Art a few years ago. Though I am not there yet, one day I hope to be. Your work is truly inspiring. (((HUGS)))

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  35. I loved the look of the shadows. When you showed us the last picture of the full spread, it had totally caught the bright sunlight coming through the liquids and the solid dishes making the long shadows. Magical. Thanks Danny, best, jess

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  36. Fantastic. Love this step-by-step approach with its storyboard quality. Hoping to get Art Before Breakfast for my birthday this Saturday. Woo-hah! Thank you for sharing your process & thoughts & love of life so generously! (Oh & I reposted your What If The Purpose of Life piece on FB and got a wonderful discussion going. You rock!) X

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  37. Danny, I love your humor and artwork! I do think that this is the stuff of art journaling – recapturing life with joy! Thank you for posting this piece of inspiration.!

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  38. Danny I am impressed with your daily ritual of art before breakfast. It is a good way to be sure you get it in and makes for a great way to document your day. Thanks so much for sharing with us. All of this group are so wonderful. Glad to have you among us.

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  39. I have never seen/read anything like this Danny – wow. It was like I was sitting right there beside you – watching you, hearing you, smelling the coffee, fixing the meal… just a great experience. I just can’t fathom that you sat there and did that so easily – sketching, writing, creating – before/during breakfast. Just AWE STRUCK. Thank you so so so so so much for BEING YOU. I’m still smiling. WOW. j.

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  40. Yum!!! You made me hungry. I am so jealous you can enjoy a delicious breakfast and have the time to draw it. I wish I can have every color of the Doc’s Martin. maybe for my birthday.

    Love Kevin’s too 😉

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  41. I love this spread: eggs, coffee, long shadows, calligraphy and a visual todo list. A great start to the day. I hope it was a good one.

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  42. Omg I LOVE this!!! Your to-do list sketches remind me of the illustrations from my fave childhood book ‘BFG’ by Ronald Dahl!! I’m totally inspired right now!! Thanks for sharing!! P.S…I DIED when I saw the “Fat Ass Markers” box in your art cart😂😂😂

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  43. Popping in from DLP…….love your narrative!!! And your sketch, of course!!! I couldn’t help laughing at the thought of doing such a sketch with my egg breakfast – it would be stone cold by the time I’d finished the paynes gray! Perhaps I could try with a fruit salad brekky???!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  44. Cool graphics! and i Love the ADD with KB ! The ADD industry is getting so much better Danny !
    No need for much change in here. (I remember an little interview you had about your opinion about the add industry trends, etc)

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  45. That is Brilliant Danny, most peoples minds do indeed thing like that, the trick is to bridge the creative gap and put it on paper, procrastination is the bug bare of creatives IMHO, so I’ll stop typ………..

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  46. Wonderful interview… I have to purchase all your books…so inspiring and a delight to read…I need my daily dose of Danny art.

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