I want to get better at drawing. I can see scenes from the stories I write clearly and would love to illustrate them myself, but it takes a lot of skill and experience to draw from the imagination. The only way to get better at something is to do it regularly, to practice.
Inspired by Roz Stendahl’s Daily Dots and a group project called The Daily Potato, I’m doing a project I call Daily Orchids. I sit down every day and spend a minimum of ten minutes drawing one of my sister’s orchid plants.
Why orchids? A couple of reasons.
First, they are all blooming profusely right now, a welcome burst of color in the middle of winter. It’s nice to sit and look at them for a bit.
Secondly, they are a ready made drawing subject, always there. All I have to do is grab my sketchbook and walk into the kitchen.
Last of all, they are alive, but motionless. I love drawing animals, but they move a lot. (If you think the animals you see at the zoo are boring and don’t do anything, just try drawing them. You’ll find out that they are moving all the time.) Since I am trying to get my drawing mojo back as well as improve my skills, I wanted a subject that was going to make my task easier. Motionless is good.
I’ve drawn every day for nearly two weeks now, and at first it was rough. I was rusty. My hand seemed to have a will of its own, drawing what it wanted instead of what I was seeing. Then things started to get better. The petals I drew were closer to the shape of the petals I was observing.
Yesterday’s drawing session was the best one yet. I got lost in my drawing and had far fewer distortions than before. When I was finished, I was happy because I could tell the practice was paying off. And that reminded me of the power of habit.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.Aristotle
I don’t feel like my drawing is excellent, but it’s improving. So I will keep showing up to practice daily, and trust that making a habit of my drawing will make it better.
What habits do you have that help you improve your skills?