Thursday, July 22, 2021

T&T Thursday!

Last T&T Thursday Alex shared her journey to drawing excellence. Knowing how it can be done shows us the way. Knowing the benefits shows us the why!

No Excuses!

By Barbara Weeks

Did you know that until the late 1920s - early 1930s drawing was part of the regular school curriculum? While not one of the 3 Rs, it was considered an important tool for developing concepts, sharpening thought, and sharing ideas. 

What Happened? 

One of the major factors was the development of photography made drawing seem like an unnecessary skill. In more recent years, computer advancements in the visual communication field made drawing appear to be unimportant even unnecessary but things are changing. 

Why Draw?

Whether it’s called drawing, sketching, or doodling, today, we’re rediscovering there are real benefits to drawing. If you're an experienced artist looking to reboot or a newbie looking for kindred spirits, this is for you.

Benefits of Drawing
  • Improves eye-hand coordination
  • Improves memory
  • Improves communication skills
  • Relieves stress (Have you seen all the coloring books for grown-ups that are in the stores?)
  • Increases creativity
  • Increases observational skills
  • Increases attention to detail
  • Records ideas
  • Increases positive emotions (Why do you think restaurants give crayons an paper to children?)
  • The more you draw the better your drawing skill
  • It's fun
And this is just a partial list!

Drawing relieves stress, preserves a memory, and conveys ideas.

Want to Draw More but Need a Nudge? 

We know the benefits of drawing; it only makes sense to draw more. It’s funny that two of the causes for drawing less are now big helps to start drawing more – the computer and the internet. 
There’s an internet group out there made just for you and your sketching needs. FaceBook offers an almost endless list of groups that unite like-minded sketchers for encouragement, inspiration, to share information and sketches. There are drawing quests issued on Facebook and Instagram to challenge you to draw more. Post your work, add the proper # and join in the fun. 

Enjoy and share sketching online communities – Sketchbook Work, Urban Sketching, #EDM2015

On location sketching:

Sketchbook work:


The challenges vary and crop up seasonally. Search these hashtags for ideas:
  • #inktober
  • #everydayinmay
  • #uskchicago
  • #doodlersanonymous
  • #usk

    Working for years as a graphic designer, I reached a point when I felt handcuffed by the computer and missed the creative boost of sketching by hand. That’s when I discovered Urban Sketchers (thank you Gabi Campanario!) and Everyday Matters (thank you, Danny Gregory). They were the beginning. There was no turning back! I found I didn’t need  an excuse to draw, I had reasons to draw. 

    How about you, why do you draw? Do you have a favorite group?

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    Monday, July 12, 2021


    Let's Sketch

    Chase Plaza

    Sunday, July 18

    12 PM - 3 PM


    This month's meet up will be at Chase Plaza in downtown Chicago. There are wonderful sketching opportunities at this location including the Chase building, the plaza and the fountain, and the Chagall mural, 'Four Seasons'.

    We'll meet at the stairs on the Monroe side. 

    Thursday, July 8, 2021

    T&T Thursday!

    Paka 2021

    Thoughts on Talent

    By Alex Zonis

    Many times, as I am sitting sketching in a park or a cafe, someone would stop by, look over my shoulder, and then say with a wistful air "I wish I had your talent… I'd like to draw too…"

    I usually hesitate to tell them, but I will tell you: I have no talent.

    What I have is an incessant desire to make images. I have persistence and tenacity. I gave up on instant gratification and the need to look good right away. I bought in on an idea of 10,000 hours. But talent… no, definitely not. But let's examine the situation with more attention.

    For decades I did not draw or paint or make art, because I was convinced that I had no "talent". Fairly late in life I came up with a rebellious idea that I don't actually need this thing "talent" to draw or paint. Ha! What a liberation it was! I took a pencil and did an exercise from a drawing book, the year was 2009:

    I did more exercises from books, and interestingly enough my drawings got better.

    Then I came across a book by Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers: The Story of Success" and read about 10,000 hours concept. 

    The idea is that you need about 10,000 hours of practice to get good at whatever you want to get good at. I did the math: working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, gives 2,000 hours of practice in one year. In 2010 I'd barely scratched the surface… I realized that I needed 5 years of dedicated practice. I also realized that I don't need "talent", I need skill. That was doable, and I got to work.

    These are some examples. 






    I have done my 5 years - 10,000 hours and much more! I have moved from being afraid of putting a pencil to paper to being a professional artist and a painting instructor. 

    Here's one more thing to keep in mind. In the beginning of your 10,000 hours quantity is more important than quality. 
    There once was an experiment in a pottery class of an art school. For one semester a class was divided in 2 halves. Students in the first group were asked to make one single pot each during the time of that semester, but it should be the best pot they ever made. The grade would be given based on the quality of that single pot. The second group was asked to make as many pots as they possibly can, quality and beauty not important. These students would get their grades based on the number of pots they made, the more the better. As you probably guessed, by the end of the semester pots produced by the "quantity" group  were better and more beautiful than single pots made by the "quality" group. 

    This example comes from a book "Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. You can get this book from Amazon for under $4.00 used. It is a little book - 120 pages, small format - with a lot of wisdom. This will be the best art book you ever bought.

    A practical and observable shift in quality of work occurs through practice and work. "Talent" is not even a part of this equation.

    During my years of practice and self-study I arrived to several conclusions that I want to share with you:
    • If you can write a grocery list - you can draw too. You have all visual and motor skills that you need.
    • There is no such thing as talent. Talent is a man-made construct that is not really helpful.
    • Drawing can be taught. Why do you think there are so many art schools and art teachers. Find the right one. Teaching yourself works too.
    • Practice and time on task is all there is. Don't just trust me, try for yourself. Then come back in 6 months and thank me :).

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      Thursday, July 1, 2021

      July Muse


      July Sketching Prompts

      Show Us What and Where

      • July 4    It "says" summer
      • July 11 – Street furniture (hydrant, mailbox, etc.)
      • July 18 – Something tiny BIG
      • July 25 – The oldest thing you see

      Have fun!

      Want to keep up to date by email? Fill in your email address in the place provided in the upper right corner under the banner. We look forward to hearing from you.