The Upside of Lockdown

Day 30 of UK lockdown…

I accidentally threw my spoon into the bin today instead of the teabag, I’ve got near constant coffee jitters… And worst of all, I have creative block.

Up until the 3-week extension was announced, I was managing with the current circumstances. Being locked up indoors, I’ve had more free time for my hobbies and my art, I even picked up a couple of commissions, whilst also operating my usual working days.

The commission was the straw that broke the camels back, unfortunately, as the commissioner bailed last minute, since then I’ve had pretty major creative block. When I feel like drawing, I ask myself “What would you like to draw?”, and my brain does a remarkable impression of a particular John Travolta gif, So I decided not to “draw” per se…


Skin tones practice

Instead, I decided to go back to basics and learn more about my materials, so I started by making some swatch sheets of my favourite supplies. It took some serious hours, but it was worth it! Being able to see every colour of my 120 piece Faber-Castell pencils, and my 150 colours of Prismacolors at a glance has made me curious to draw again. It also helps to show you which colours don’t match up to the name or the colour of the pencil itself (Prismacolour beige sienna I’m looking at you) meaning you’re less likely to fluff a drawing later on. It showed up some pencils that I’ve been neglecting as well because I wasn’t sure about the colour!

Seeing the new options of colours helped get me back in the mood to draw, and even gave me an idea; but it was pretty far out from my usual style, I knew some more practice would be needed before I was confident enough to start. So, using my swatch sheets to pick out the colours, I started making some test pieces for different methods of shading and blending, slowly refining the process; mixing different brands of pencils, trying different papers, and even testing out some supplies that were totally new to me. FYI coloured pencil blending solvent is scary!

My always helpful desk cat, Fred

To some people these little side projects may seem like a waste of time or even money, but every step is like a small burst of personal gratification; you feel like each bit of progress or improvement is an achievement, getting you closer and closer to your goal.

Now I know which colours to keep a stock of, and even have an excuse for a little bit of online retail therapy to give me something to look forward to! Learning these new skills has made me excited to put them into practice, and may even give me something to add to the portfolio in the future, so I’d say its time well spent.

Now, I’m off to order some new gear, move Fred off my desk and fish the spoon out of the bin!

Wish me luck…