Do you draw every day?
Daily drawing is probably the best way to quickly sharpen your illustration skills in my experience. I’ve been drawing more or less every day for nearly two years, and I see dramatic improvement in my sketches already.
I know daily drawing likely sounds overwhelming when you’re just starting out. Don’t feel discouraged; you don’t have to complete an illustration, just get in the habit of putting pen or pencil on paper at first. Even 15 or 20 minute sketching sessions help you develop as an artist.
Now it can be tough to produce consistently as some days you just don’t feel very creative. One way to maintain your focus is by concentrating on a specific technique, such as shading or perspective. Another option that I think you’ll really enjoy would be joining the #ZenArtChallenge community with me!
Why I Joined the Zen Art Challenge Community
I discovered the Zen Art Challenge through Instagram, and I’m having a lot of fun participating with daily doodle prompts. I’ve found these drawing exercises are a fun way to unwind after work and get in much needed illustration practice.
Before I started the challenge in July, I found myself in a bit of a drawing rut. Back in January, I vowed to shift from learning patterns for practice to shunning all forms of inspiration or copywork. I wanted to embrace originality and get away from derivative work, so cutting myself off from new Zentangle patterns seemed like a good way to achieve my goals. While I think the last 6 months have been productive, I struggled with the pressure to create purely from imagination and memory. I noticed this especially on weeknights when I’d convince myself I was too tired to draw well.
‘I can’t really think right now’, I’d tell myself, ‘I’ll just end up making sloppy mistakes.’
I’d often give in to this negative thinking and only end up drawing for a few minutes before calling it a night. Then I happened to see a post about the #ZenArtChallenge on Instagram, and decided to give it a try. I’m happy to say I’m enjoying the creative stimulation as well as interacting with other artists in the Mindful Creativity with Tangles Community.
#ZenArtChallenge July 2017 Week 1 Illustrations
Here’s how it works. Group owner Heather Buchman puts together a month’s worth of daily Zentangle patterns which you can sign up to receive via email or simply Google the pattern names to see examples and steps online. You’ll find advanced artists as well as beginners in the group, so you’ll fit in regardless of where you’re at in your artist’s journey. The way you choose to use the patterns remains entirely up to you. Some folks incorporate the patterns into larger pieces on a weekly basis whereas others (myself included) just draw the patterns in small boxes or daily planners. Personally, I like to use the patterns as a base and then put my own spin on things. I also start my sketches in ink to stay in the spontaneous freehand spirit. Here’s what we’ve done so far for Week 1 in July:
An easy floral pattern I attempted late at night with sloppy results.
One of my favorites from Week 1. C-Yeah gives you a lot of freedom to add your own touch and plays well with other illustrations.
My least favorite pattern so far. I found it too simple to be flexible and got bored with it pretty quick. I probably won’t draw it again.
Pystyl works as a standalone pattern, in little flowers, or as a repeating background.
Boundary gave me a Halloween kinda vibe as I think it resembles an eyeball. I tried to get away from that in my sketch by slanting the bulbs and shading them with Stippling.
I enjoyed this pattern and tried to give the balls a sense of motion since they remind me of Christmas bells.
OOF makes an excellent background pattern that can be simple or quite complex depending on your vision.
I plan to post my work in weekly roundups like this one, so stay tuned for Week 2 sketches.I hope these doodles inspire you to join the Mindful Creativity community!