I started the 100 faces challenge on September 22nd, 2017 where I aimed to draw one face every day for 100 days. I was aiming to finish the last day of December – but Christmas, travel, illness, and procrastination got in the way and I finished on February 11th, 2018. I wrote this post on the day I finished this challenge – but I forgot to post it somehow. So to compliment my Draw This Again video – here is a look back at the challenges an I found and things I’ve learnt.
Challenges I Faced (Gettit?! FACED!)
This challenge was simply being bored with drawing the same thing every day. Up until this challenge, I had drawn almost every day for 6 months – but I drew whatever I fancied: one day it was a life drawing study, the next two snails kissing, or maybe the lunch I had eaten or a plant I had brought. I have always loved variety – and sure, faces are varied, but they all have a nose and a mouth and those pesky eyelashes. On the nights I didn’t want to draw yet another portrait, I would either half heatedly sketch a face or skip it. I don’t know which one of these solutions is worse. Luckily, this didn’t happen too often.
Lack of ideas
This is the opposite of the above challenge Some days I needed a break from portraits and just felt like sketching in my sketchbook. The problem was – I couldn’t think of anything to draw except faces. Faces faces faces! It was all I was drawing and all I could think about, which was pretty frustrating. Needless to say – I didn’t do much sketchbook work during those 4 months.
Phoning it in
As I’ve said – sometime I just didn’t want to draw another face. On the nights when I pushed myself to sit down and draw – I phoned it in. I rushed through the sketch, not really looking for the important details – the curve of a nostril, the placement of a freckle, the shadow under a jawline – and just estimating. A couple of times this method really worked for me. I remember drawing this face above and really not wanting to draw that night. I think the fact that I didn’t care, that I wasn’t stressing over getting the details right, allowed me to free up in my drawing and I ended up really enjoying myself and I think the result is pretty good!
Trying to learn too much at once
I was trying to improve my portraiture skills, but I was also learning to art again after years of not using my hands. I wanted to try everything at the same time. I used pencil, ink, brushes, watercolour, markers and even jumped back into that old familiar and comfortable digital art. I found it wasn’t the best idea to try to learn a new technique and a new medium together. I couldn’t focus on one thing, so my drawing skills improved more slowly. When I realised this and focused on just the skill of drawing – using a pencil and paper – I found I improved more quickly.
Stuff I Learnt
Apart from improving overall on drawing faces, the things I learned during this challenge can be popped into three categories.
I learnt to see. My artistic eyes strengthened as over time I was able to correctly measure the face – the distance between the eyes, the angle of the mouth, the height of the ears – etc. I was able to draw, look at the reference and see where I had gone wrong, assessing and changing as my artistic eyes became more skilled. This is such an amazing and frustrating feeling though, as our ability to see is always evolving. I can look back at a face now and see the flaws. But I know I will look at the last few portraits I drew that last week of the challenge (that I thought were pretty good!) and see the many flaws of those in a couple of weeks.
Over the last few months, I have felt more comfortable and confident drawing. After spending 10 years on the computer, going back to traditional methods was scary. My fingers didn’t move like they used to, I was heavy handed. I didn’t feel that ease as when I was a teenager, drawing for hours. The pencil was a stranger, the paper only had one zoom level – and don’t even get me started on sharpeners! Drawing over the last few months has helped me become acquainted with these tools. Like an old friend, we have grown apart but we still have all our memories to keep us together.
I tried lot’s of different mediums and though I am not adept at all, I have found some I truly love and can’t wait to explore more. (Multi-liner and watercolour I’m looking at you!)
I played with different styles – and while I don’t think I have a “style” yet, I can see similarities between my drawings. This thing with me, is I get bored easily and I love experimenting. I don’t know if I’ll ever stick to one medium long enough to grow a succinct style, but I sure am going to love that journey!
I played with my iPad and experimented with colour. One thing I have found I love this challenge is working with a limited colour palett. This is something I would love to work on in the future.
I sat down every day (mostly every day) to create a daily drawing habit – I’ve grown to look forward to those couple of hours I spend at my desk each night – working on my skills, and listening to podcasts or YouTube videos. It has become a kind of me-time.
I have become a lot more confident in my art. Even the nights I make some blatant mistake – I can still see areas I like, areas I’ve improved on and it feels good. Seeing the improvement has definitely made this challenge worth it. I still have a long way to go, but I love this journey I am on. I have also noticed how I need to work with lot’s of different mediums and try new things constantly. I think one of the things I love about creating each day is the opportunity to try something new. Even if it turns out like this terrible picture below, it is still fun to try new things. You can’t be scared to experiment – because you may find a hidden gem in a new art supply or that you love a new technique. Each trial and error will be sewn into the fabric of your creative being – helping you become a unique and multi-faceted artist.(Or so I like to hope)
Knowing that I will continually improve in these aspect makes the days when I draw something crap a little less dark. Just keep on drawing and in no time you will surprise yourself with your ability.
Of course, there are still so many things to keep working on. I may have a break from people for a while, and when I return I would like to focus on improving eyelashes, hair, and shading. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences with this 100 day challenge. It wasn’t perfect, but neither am I! Would I do it again? Of course! It taught me so much and I have enjoyed at LEAST 87/100 of those days. I’m just glad it wasn’t a 500 day challenge!
I recently re-drew an early portrait and was pleased with the result but still see a ong journey ahead of me – which I can’t wait to start. So what’s next for me? There are so many things I want to improve or learn to draw – fish, plants, animals – bodies to go with all those heads- but I think for the next few weeks, I will chill out and draw whatever comes to mind. Check back soon to see what I’ve been up to!