When I first started to draw, my goal was never to make pretty pictures. If you’ve read my book Everyday Matters, you’ll know that I came to drawing as a form of meditation, a way to ground myself in the real and actual rather than living exclusively in my rather tortured brain. My practice was to draw the things around me, in a straightforward, observational way, using just a cheap pen and a sketchbook. I was making a record of my life, of the quotidian beauty that surrounds me.
So, could I use the iPad to keep doing this? At first, I couldn’t as I kept tripping over my enormous toolbox. The ability to tweak every line to a fair-the-well would distract me from making a strong connection between my brain and the object I was contemplating, I’d keep switching up pens, erasing, undoing, tweaking colors and so forth, all of which would shatter the meditative spell I was used to. I was overwhelmed by my options. If one is used to taking a gentle stroll through the countryside, being dropped into a Formula 1 racer without a driving license would be understandably distracting.So I dialed back and just focused on just making a simple black line. I drew my most familiar subject, a floral tea-cup, which I had drawn dozens and dozens of times over the years. These drawings were familiar and comforting but were like driving that racecar in a school zone. I wanted to open things up, to expand beyond where I’d been and get comfortable using my new toys.
I tried one colored pencil next.
Then I tried getting even more hands on — by drawing with my fingers.
Then I added a colored background and got a little abstract.
Finally, I tried a bit of whimsical collage.
These experiments showed me I could do what I’d done in my sketchbook and also go a lot further — if I took baby steps. Slowly, I began to capture what was around me, just as I had when I started, twenty-odd years ago: adding one tool at a time until I felt comfortable with it, then trying another.
I’d originally spent a year drawing with a Uniball roller pen. Then I’d added a felt marker, then a single grey brush marker. Then a handful of cool and warm greys. Next one orange, then a green and so on. After another year, I filled an entire sketchbook with colored pencil drawings. Then I got my first watercolor set. In all, it took me at least four or five years to consistently make reasonable color drawings in my sketchbook. I’d have to have a little patience to feel as comfortable with my iPad.
After two more months of work, I could draw things that looked almost photographic. My ultimate goal wasn’t to make this sort of art but just to push myself and my tools to see what I could do with them. The more familiar they become, the more transparent they are, letting me focus on my subject without thinking about knob twiddling and technowizardry.
My goal is to stay in the flow, even through this sheet of glass.
(To be continued)
11 thoughts on “Pad and i: 7. I’d like to make a toast.”
I’m always happy to see what you’ve been up to but also your thought process behind it. I like how you are always, ALWAYS conscious of your intention. Happy New Year, Danny!
So very helpful; thanks again for sharing so clearly how you have found and continue to find your way as you create. This one is a special “keeper” for me!
Happy New Year, Danny
Very inspirational. I’m have to keep my ‘race car’ brain from being overwhelmed by seeing your progress. I want to make all of that same progress right now! But I remember: one drawing at a time. Thank you!
Inspiring and instructive start for 2018 Danny. Thank you.
Thank you so much – my husband got me an IPad for Christmas and I’ve become frustrated with my inadequacies and the poor results I’ve had… I appreciated your wise words and how you reminded me to slow down – one day at a time – one sketch at a time! Thank you! Have a great one!
I would be interested in a Sketchbook Skool Klass on using digital tools to make art.
I have enjoyed watching your journey and watching you change and grow. I find your art story very inspiring.
I just got my iPad Pro and pen/pencil. I’m trying some stuff out using Paper. I would love to see a lesson or two on how to be successful on the iPad. Looks like you are doing pretty well with it,
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I enjoyed this a lot!
Danny Danny Danny, you’ve nearly convinced me. I believe in your relentless authenticity, but going digitally just seems like going against the grain. I spent the majority of life on a monitor in the design world, now I pride myself with dirty fingernails and the smells of the materials in my studio. Am I just living in an old art world that I’m trying to discover for myself? How many senses are we willing to sacrifice? Your thoughts?
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