I did it! I started, finished and shared a brand new drawing every single day of 2018, even when I was under the weather, traveling or without a decent internet connection.
I resolved to draw every day to counteract the rustiness I was feeling when I picked up a pen or pencil. I’m happy to say that after 365 days of practice, I feel more in tune with my drawing hand than ever! Hooray!
In spite of that success (or maybe because of it?), I’ve decided not to continue in quite the same way in 2019. I’ll explain why later, but first… some drawings!
Social media makes it easy to quantify which drawings resonated with others, but it’s pretty useless for conveying which I was happiest with. I thought it might be fun to share my personal favorite drawing of every month, regardless of popularity.
The simplicity of this one appeals to me. I also like that it’s a complete little scene.
Likenesses are tough, and I’m as guilty as anyone of over-rendering to compensate for that. So I was happy that these Beatles drawings seem recognizable with relatively few lines.
This may be my favorite of the year. Again, very few lines, but this is how Wonder Woman looks in my head.
Shadow of the Colossus is such a classic, evocative game, and the remake’s screenshot mode gave me a wonderful reference for its third colossi.
This mermaid feels like she’s underwater, at least to me. I see myself taking more risks here with color. I also like the slight tilt of her head.
Ghostbusters were a huge part of my childhood (especially the toys), but for some reason I’ve struggled to draw Slimer. After wasting an hour or two on an unsuccessful attempt, I doodled this version in barely any time at all. It taught me to loosen up a bit and embrace a sense of play in my drawings.
Usagi Yojimbo is one of my very favorite comics, but this may be the first time I’ve been happy with how I’ve drawn its protagonist.
I emailed this to creator Stan Sakai and received a very nice response:
It really looks great! I especially like his expression and the blades of grass in the background and your use of colors.
A lighthearted take on a real one-legged seagull my mom saw for years at a specific coastal spot. Probably my favorite attempt of the year at a “no outline” drawing.
Birds are fun to draw. Lots of angles and contrasting shapes.
This may be the most accurate drawing I’ve done of how it feels when I get a bad headache.
I’m not sure why switching Photoshop brushes caused a Louie del Carmen drawing to fall out of my Wacom pen, but I’m not going to question it.
I’d decided well into the project that my very last drawing of the year should be the same as my first, which was Yoda:
For the last few months, I made a point of avoiding that first drawing so I wouldn’t be influenced by it. Comparing the two now, I’m surprised by all the differences. The later Yoda’s expression is warmer and more nuanced. The lines are less labored, with more “thick to thin” to convey depth. And the colors are more vibrant and adventurous, varying the hue and not just the value.
Finishing the last drawing was an emotional experience. I felt thankful to reconnect with a skill I’d taken for granted, proud of the results, and both sad and relieved for the project to be over.
Listening to My Brain
For most of 2018, I was surprised by how naturally the habit of drawing had segued into my daily routine. Some days were harder than others, but overall it felt like I could continue forever.
But something changed around late August or early September. I felt as creative as ever, but my ideas weren’t fitting the constraints of the project. I’d think up a drawing that might take two days to finish, for example. Or I might feel more like writing or prototyping than drawing.
At first this mental friction was frustrating. I’d enjoyed the process for eight or nine whole months… why couldn’t I just keep going? But eventually I realized that this was a positive outcome. My creative synapses, newly renewed, wanted to branch out (as they had for most of my life).
I may do another daily drawing project if I find my discipline slipping again, or even just for fun. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to sharing whatever creative things I’m compelled to make, whenever I choose.
My sincerest heartfelt thanks to all my family, friends, collaborators, peers and mentors for encouraging this project. I’d thank you individually, but I’m afraid I’d forget someone. To quote Mike Myers as Phillip, I always felt “surrounded by a lot of positive support.”
If you’re a creative person (or would like to be) and the promise and potential of the new year is stirring feelings of motivation within you, take advantage of that! Whether it’s every day or one and done, whether you share it with the world or keep it to yourself, you should do it! Remember:
Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.