People always ask me when I’m illustrating at live events ‘How do you do it?’ ‘How do you manage to just draw something on the spot in a few minutes?’, and my answer is always this: ‘I take my brain out…’
It’s a funny thing to say; ‘I take my brain out’, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s basically about being intuitive and not thinking too much, or rather, not thinking at all. I talk about actually ‘taking my brain out’ because that’s how it feels, it feels like my head is actually empty. My eyes are directly connected to my hand and there’s nothing going on in between. It sounds terrifying, I know, but trust me it works. That freedom of not having any thoughts or questions going through your mind is bliss and it helps you laser focus into what you’re doing. Moreover, you just act on what you see an, ,9 times out of 10, what you draw is right. Acting on instinct is true for most things in life but definitely when it comes to drawing. We’re told all the time that the golden rule is ‘draw what you see not what you know’ which is basically telling us to not listen to our brains.
So this brain-less drawing happens when I’m doing live illustration but doesn’t happen much in my studio. I always end up getting too carried away with ideas and before I know it, they’ve become finished pieces. I’ve never really been the type to sketch… And I think it got drummed out of me even further in my last full time job. Before I went freelance, I worked as an in house artist for a memorial company hand-etching artwork onto gravestones (odd job, I know, and maybe one day I will do a full post about it) but essentially there was no room for errors and definitely no sketching. Every piece started was a finished, final piece. Which is great for learning how to quickly and effectively execute an illustration but not so great for exploring ideas or improving weaker areas in your drawing skills. At the end of the day, that’s what sketching is all about, you’re actively learning and ironing out your mistakes. You’re trying something out, moving on to the next piece and trying something different.
As I want to get better at drawing spaces and interior illustration, I thought it would be a great topic for my little studio sketching session. Before I started drawing, I watched a video by illustrator Minnie Small on her 5 Tips for Drawing Buildings which I highly recommend as it gave me the confidence to ditch my ruler. I mean, using a ruler and being intuitive don’t really go together but I was just so worried about all the straight lines in rooms and furniture… Turns out, if you don’t think about it and be confident when drawing them, your lines don’t end up too wonky! Also, the slight wonky-ness gives your sketches some character and life… So, together with my favourite paper, pens and a new board of inspiration on Pinterest, I took my brain out and quick sketched for about an hour or so and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m definitely starting to learn more what gives illustrations their depth and perspective and what makes for an interesting illustration without any people in it.