With just two months left of this project and AprilMayJune right around the corner, time is getting tight but I’m still very optimistic with where this project is going!

Hitting Some Snags

River Drawing
A very messy first attempt at a landscape drawing

Something in my last blog post that I said I would try to do over spring break was draw a lot in order to get a lot of practice in. However, This proved a lot harder than I thought it would be. Since I had originally wanted to focus more on landscapes, I found this stock drawing on DeviantArt that I thought would be a great starting point. From there, I started drawing what you see on the right, a task that took up over three hours though I don’t have a lot to show for it.

Something I struggled with a lot while trying to draw the trees was what technique I should use. In my drawing, you can see I’ve tried three different things: using a small brush to draw individual leaves, using a large brush to paint the background one colour and adding detailing with a smaller brush, and using a pattern brush that creates a texture similar to that of leaves. However, after erasing and redrawing everything multiples, I came to the conclusion that the reason I was struggling so much was that none of the techniques I was trying created the texture I really wanted for the drawing.

At the same time, though, I was watching this video by Sara Tepes on how to improve your artwork. One of the points she brings up in the video is to have a focus for each drawing. This, I believed, was where all my problems were stemming from; I was trying to do too much and I should zero in on something and focus on it before trying something big.

Because I noticed that the part of my drawing I was having the most problems with was achieving the texture I was trying to create, I decided to focus my next drawings on sketching out different textures.

Some examples of the sketches I’ve been doing

To do this, I picked out a few of the textures that I would most likely be encountering while drawing landscape paintings and I decided upon leaves/bushes/trees, rocks, and wood as they are all large parts of nature.

I then went online and searched up some tutorials on each of the tree topics. While I was initially looking on Youtube, I actually found a lot of Pinterest tutorials to be very helpful for what I was doing and followed the tutorials on there to develop my skills further.

As you can see when comparing the sketches I did on the left compared to above, I have improved immensely by having a focus when drawing.

Something that I found difficult during this process was not blending too much and leaving a little roughness there to give it a little more texture as well. You can tell I was having trouble with this on the bottom right tree trunk as you can barely tell that I’ve added lines up and down the tree as well as random darker and lighter spots to imitate bark and the non-perfectly-cylindrical shape of a tree trunk.

Of course, this is not to say that doing this kind of style is bad; different people enjoy different types of drawing. However, through experience, I have found that I prefer a more realistic drawing style and will be trying to mimic that in my digital drawings.

Six Hats

This, for me, was one of the most interesting chapters in How to Have a Beautiful Mind as it was an entirely new concept to me and it brought a new layer to the conversations I have.

Blue Hat – Process Control

We primarily used this hat at the beginning of the meeting when I was describing what I was hoping to get done during the meeting.

Mary: Since you couldn’t bring your laptop, are there any things you wanted to talk about?

Me: I would like to kinda discuss where this project is going and what the final presentation is gonna look like and I also have a few questions about landscape drawing I’d like to ask you so that should take up most of our time.

In addition, I used the blue hat to control where I wanted the conversation to go by organizing the rest of the meeting in terms of hat colour as follows: white (what I have done so far), green (brainstorming ideas), red (initial feeling of each option), yellow hat (why each option should be considered), and then black (which option achieves what I want for the project the best). Another place where I used the blue hat was when we were talking was focusing each portion of the conversation on the correct colour rather than straying off. For example, when we were using our green hats, I quickly used my blue hat to say that we would not be using our black hats to judge the ideas being put forward.

White Hat – Information

After initially setting out how the meeting would go, we then switched over to the white hat when I described what I had done since our last meeting.

Mary: Well what have you done so far?

Aileen: Mostly, I’ve been working on sketches since our last meeting to focus in on skills.

Other than this instance, the white hat was only used sporadically throughout our conversation. This is because a lot of what I wanted to discuss was based on opinions rather than facts so this hat was only used when we either needed more information to base our opinions off of or when our conversation sparked a specific question. An example of the former can be found above while an example of the latter is:

Mary: One of the problems for printing that big might be the dpi.

Me: What dpi do you recommend, then?

Mary: 300’s the standard.

Green Hat – Generating

Because the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss what the final product is going to look like, we used a lot of the green hat next to brainstorm a list of potential learning centre ideas. To start this process, I first described the two scenarios I had initially thought of in my proposal; they were either setting up a trifold and doing a timeline-like display showing how my skills improved through time or doing a similar thing digitally if I didn’t want to print.

Because the conversation that occurred while brainstorming new ideas is too long to transcribe, I will summarize what happened instead. One of the first things I did was set out that any ideas would be good ideas and we wouldn’t judge any of them yet as that is more of a black hat task. We then went through a variety of ideas, such as doing a timelapse and showing that or doing a large central finished piece surrounded by various sketches around it that led up the main drawing.

Red Hat – Feelings

After having brainstormed a list of potential ideas, we then used our red hats to go through them and weed out the ones that we could just feel weren’t right.

Mary: What about the timelapse idea then?

Me: I’m not a big fan of the idea and it just doesn’t feel right.

Although I do offer what could be considered an explanation (that it doesn’t feel right), it is still an expression of what I feel rather than a concrete reasoning behind not liking it. Thus, this small snippet utilises the red hat.

Yellow Hat – Value & Black Hat – Judgement

After initially weeding out some of the ideas we had come up with while using the green hat by applying the red hat, we then moved onto using the yellow and black hats at the same time to pick out the pros and cons of each idea.

Me: What might be some difficulties with [the central image idea]?

Mary: Well sometimes when you print something it doesn’t look as good as it did on the computer. Also, when you print something big you need to be careful about the dpi.

After using the yellow and black hats to judge each of the different options, we came to the conclusion that, despite the issues listed above, doing a central finished drawing with various sketches I did leading up to it around it would be the best way to draw people in while still showing progress.

Putting the Hats Together

Following that, I then decided to get some preliminary advice from her about how to draw landscape paintings. One of the ways I did this was by asking her to give some tips as to how to draw different textures, such as leaves and wood.

Me: One of the things I’ve been struggling with a little while sketching is getting textures to look right. I feel like I can never get the shading to realistic and it’s a little frustrating.

Mary: Could you maybe show me some examples of what you’ve been drawing?

Me: Oh okay *sketches out the kinds of things I was doing and explains the different ways I’ve been approaching things*

Mary: Well one thing is that these are all really close-up and when you’re doing landscapes, you’ll be drawing from far away so you don’t need all the details. Especially for things that are even further away.

Me: Oh so unless it’s really close, I don’t really need to emphasize the details? That’s really useful to know cause it’ll decrease the time I spend on all the little things. Thanks for the tip!

During this small snippet of our conversation, I used the red hat when I was describing the problems I was having by expressing how I was feeling and I then used the yellow hat to indicate how Mary’s advice would benefit me. In addition, Mary used the green hat when explaining an alternative way of approaching drawings, which was to vary how detailed the different layers of the drawing are.

With that being said, we are at the end of yet another blog post. As for short term goals, for the next two months, I will be focusing on just drawing one thing and doing it well. Hopefully, I’ll have a lot of progress to share with everyone in my next blog post!

Nothing can be done except little by little. – Charles Baudelaire