My First Month of Drawing in 2012

Portrait studies three years apart

While procrastinating, I looked at my early work. Here’s my first digital portrait study:

Iris Hopp 09032012 digital

And here’s my latest portrait study:

Iris Hopp 20150205 - portrait study ref 2h

After feeling in a slump for two weeks, I managed to cheer myself up 😀

There’s still room for improvement! Up to the next before&after!

Maybe that’s a trick to remember? Go back & look how for you’ve come – even if it’s been only weeks.

– Iris

The Freedom App: blocking the internet so you can get back to work

Why are you reading this? Are you procrastinating? Please keep reading… It’s a jab at myself, because my favourite online pastime is reading blogs & forums. 🙂

When I’m tired, I have trouble concentrating and “checking my mail” turns into a blog binge. Does that sound familiar? Yes, it’s the “just one more” syndrome.

If you ever had that experience, let me introduce you to Freedom. It’s a little app that blocks your internet connection. Yup, that’s it. Nowadays we really got a program for everything 😉

Do I use it often? No, only when other procrastination-battling techniques fail. I actually like having access to the internet during work. When painting digitally, it happens that I want to find a reference or look up a function of the painting program (for example, drawing a grid). For studying Japanese I often used an online dictionary. Even when I wrote this little article, I checked the internet a few times: I looked up links and pricing.

Still, sometimes I just need the app. Especially when I feel tired… My mind wanders off and I open a browser without thinking… Accidentally procrastinating? Does that even make sense?

At that moment, it’s very handy to just click on Freedom and block the internet for an hour. Then whenever I mindlessly open the browser, I am reminded “Oh right, I was working!” and get back to it.

That sounds a bit weird. I really hope that I’m not the only one…

Can you get around it? Yes, just reboot your computer. Heck, you can even disable it with the task manager. If you don’t want to work, you won’t. This tool helps you to keep working but it won’t force you into it. 😉 A little assistance for when you have concentration difficulties. Which I have way too often!

Let’s look at the practical side:
Freedom gives you a trial of five usages. After that the app costs $10. You can download it here: https://macfreedom.com/

There is a similar app, Cold Turkey, which offers a free version. For your web browsers you have site-blocking plugins like Leechblock for Firefox and StayFocusd for Chrome. I tried them all. Why did I choose the paid Freedom app instead? Its simplicity charmed me. A few clicks and the internet is gone. Poof. Just like that. The other apps need you to block individual sites one by one. There was always a new, unblocked blog lurking to take me away.

By the way, did you know that Chrome lets you play a little game when you don’t have internet connection? Check it out!

Iris Hopp - chrome dinosaur no internet connection game
Look, it’s proof of me studying Japanese! Not like I have been playing this game for procrastination purposes… By the way, it keeps track of your high score 😀

 

Time for some internet-free drawing! Do you get distracted by the internet in general, or by specific sites?

– Iris

Are you scared of drawing? Draw or Sleep!

Procrastination is a biggie. Who doesn’t suffer from that time stealing demon? It’s a challenge for everyone: students, office workers, parents, presidents…

Iris Hopp - I'll get to it (procrastination)
“I’ll get to it…”

Hello, I’m Iris and I’m a recovering procrastinator. 🙂

In my last post on procrastination, I wrote about figuring out whether you are working or fake working.

But sometimes I know that I’m wasting my time. I know that I should be drawing. I know that I’ll feel bad later.

I’ll just eat a little snack… Oh, let’s do this first… one more episode and then I’ll…

There’s this one thing you have to do… You don’t feel at ease, because it’s gnawing in the back of your mind. You haven’t finished your work yet. You should be working. What are you doing? Why aren’t you working? No matter how high you turn up the volume of your music (or video), you cannot drown it out.
You just don’t want to get started.

It took me some years, but I found a solution! A surprisingly simple one…

Draw or sleep.

When you have one big, scary task to do, but you aren’t doing it:
You either do it or you sleep.
Iris Hopp - face construction practice maleDo you have to work on it now? No. But you can’t avoid it either. Until it is finished, you aren’t allowed to do anything else but sleep or work on it. You can’t even eat until you’ve started the task. Okay, a sip of water is fine (don’t want to damage our health here).

Not going to draw? Okay, your only alternative is going to bed. No music, lights out, not even daydreaming. Just concentrate on falling asleep. No, you don’t even get to read a bedtime story (Amazon link).

At times I actually fell asleep. Are you tired? It is possible that you aren’t working hard, because you are actually tired… exhausted… That happens a lot late in the evening or at night. “I’ll start when…” and even if you try, you can’t concentrate so you end up procrastinating. When you go to bed, you fix the cause of your procrastination!

But most of the time you are procrastinating because other stuff is 1) more interesting 2) less scary. Laying in your bed is less scary than working. But since you aren’t allowed to do anything but just laying there – not even fantasizing about unicorns – it is also incredibly boring.

So you’d rather work. Before you starve from not being allowed to eat.

I love the method: either I end up having a well-deserved nap or I end up starting the job!

Next time you find yourself procrastinating – stop everything. Do you have to start working? No, you just have to stop doing anything.

And then you choose:

Draw or sleep?

Iris Hopp - sketchbook page

Tell me how it works for you! 😀
As for me… eh, well… goodnight!

– Iris

Inspiration or procrastination?

Iris Hopp - Inspiration vs Procrastination, angry eyes

It’s a trap! The simple trap I fall in every day: pretending to prepare for action instead of taking action.

Time to draw? Let me check out this video on the anatomy of ears and the new paintings by this amazing artist and this tutorial on correctly holding a pencil and…

I pull this all the time – and I am sure a lot of you recognize the situation…

Studying? Let’s check out this blog post on speed reading, so I can study with more efficiency!

Blogging? Oh, better research the ideal length of a post instead of actually writing one!

Working? Time to write a detailed planning on how to use the time I could spend working instead of planning!

It’s quite dangerous because you feel busy, but you are not doing anything. For an artist, the most common traps are:

  1. Looking for inspiration
  2. Looking for reference

I had to stop myself. It took me a while to distinguish between work and fake work, but I found a trick. If I’m not creating right now, I ask myself:
Am I doing this because it…
“Might be useful” or because it “Answers a problem”?

For example, watching interesting tutorials might be useful.Drawing along with a tutorial on how to draw legs because I’m stuck in my current drawing, that’s an answer to my problem.
Reading Lord of the Rings because it might give me inspiration for a painting? Nah, not so useful. Googling “Devil May Cry castle art” because I want to know how to make a castle look like an evil bastion? That’s more like it!

Devil May Cry - Castle Concept
Seriously, Devil May Cry knows how to give it evil vibes.

Now what can you do when you need inspiration?
Try this little tool : http://www.magatsu.net/art/index.php

What if you need a reference?
Google your keyword and don’t allow yourself to scroll down the first page.
Now, of course you can have fun. My problem is that I started lying to myself – I pretended to work when I was goofing off. Afterwards, I felt bad… Now when I goof off, it’s well-earned!
Let’s become more productive! Now tell me, was this post an answer to your problem? 😉

– Iris

How do you become successful thanks to someone saying that you can’t?

When you want to become an artist, plenty of people will say that you can’t. How do they help you become successful? Because they tell you why you fail.

The perfect example is this talk, “Why you will fail to have a great career”.

Just reading the title, doesn’t this feel like a very negative video? When I watch it, I feel energized and motivated.
Say what?
It took a switch in mindset – from feeling afraid to feeling inspired.
When people tell you to give up…

“There’s no future in art.”
“You’re not good enough.”
“You should get a real job.”

Just ask why. I don’t even argue with anyone. I ask why, listen to them with a bit of nodding and then go away or change the subject.

“Why?”

Often you’ll find that they don’t have a reason for saying so, they’re just being negative! But when they do give you a good reason for failure, you will also know what you need to become successful.
What reasons for failure does the video give you? Lack of passion. Not aiming high. Making excuses.
If you turn those around, you have the tools for success: work with passion, aim high and go for it!

“I had a dream once, kid. But… but then you were born.” – Larry Smith

– Iris

Why would I end up an artist? I wanted to be a caveman

Caveman artist

What do you want to be when you grow up? At 23, I finally have an answer. I want to be an artist.

It took me a while to decide. In university I mixed culture and biology. Yes, it was interesting. I dissected a rat and then went to a lecture on Asian art. As a teenager, my dream was opening a pet store. My childhood dream was becoming a caveman. Weird how I went from dreaming of lush, curly hair all over me to plucking of my eyebrows.

Why art?

I have always been scared of art. I couldn’t paint like Rubens. Drawing was nothing but frustration. No talent, no future.

You need to be born with a gift for art.

That’s what I believed.

But a new idea sprang. You could learn. I understood that Rubens didn’t come out of the womb with a pencil in his hand. He practiced. All the great artists practiced. They got better till they became masters. What does this mean? That there is hope.

Current artists show  that you can go from an average doodler to a professional painter. Do you want examples? There’s Algenpfleger (before & after), MindCandyMan (before & after) and Marek Okon (before & after) .

I had to start somewhere.

A lot of art books are step-by-steps or aimed at artists with experience, but luckily some people recommended me books to get started. Books like “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” (Amazon link) assume that you have zero experience and teach you drawing methods instead of only showing you steps.
I started drawing just one hour a day.

I saw my art improving every day! This was my progress in one week:

Ivy leaf - first drawings by Iris Hopp

I passed the first stage. I went from being an “absolute beginner” to being just a  beginner. There is much more to learn… (wait for it, I’ll show you my level of car drawing in just a second). I want to be a good artist. That will take time and effort. That will take an awful lot of drawing practice!

My plan is to create a portfolio and go to art school. This means self-studying art for half a year. Isn’t it contradictory to first study art and then go to art school? There are two reasons for this. First of all, I will know whether I have the drive to buckle down and study art. Doodling is fun. Measuring perspective and analyzing anatomy… well, that’s not as fun as doodling.

The better my portfolio, the higher my chance of getting into a good art school. I have a lot of stuff to learn.

For example, drawing cars. Don’t laugh, but this is my attempt at drawing cars:

car sketches sketchbook

See? I am nowhere yet. The good side of sucking really bad is that there will be improvement. Even if I don’t get on Rubens’ level, hard work will get me beyond where I am now.

It takes some courage to acknowledge failure. I have a Tumblr to showcase my “happy accidents”. Those paintings made me go “Ooh, maybe I do stand a chance”, but I was hiding the bad work. Even worse, there were weeks of not painting at all.

“Don’t be upset with the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.”

I have to draw every day. I don’t want to be a caveman, I want to be an artist. A pretty good one.

– Iris