The 30-day Challenge #9: Draw/Paint a Picture a Day

From spreadsheets to pencils

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Debbie Black continues her quest to take on a new monthly challenge every 30 days. 

BEFORE I BEGAN

I haven't drawn or painted a picture since I was in school. And even then I didn't do Art at GCSE level or higher, (in fact I chose CDT instead – Craft Design Technology). 

I was very excited about my trip to Ryman's to get some stationary for my challenge. I grabbed a 30-sheet sketchbook, a pack of pencils and rubbers and the most pitiful miniature set of watercolours with a paintbrush that, quite frankly, I shouldn't have bothered with. But, nevertheless, I was ready.

WHERE TO START?

Of course, I didn't attempt to start my first drawing until late at night. So there I was, sat in my bed with the pale light of my bedside table lamp glowing onto my sketchbook, thinking where do I start?

Dale, my fiancé, suggested I draw something from the @blackjaguarwhitetiger account on Instagram, as I'm in love with it. So actually my first three drawings were pictures I copied from there.

I became obsessed with my challenge.

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ALL NIGHT LONG

Soon, I became utterly obsessed. I drew for hours and hours every night – sometimes until 4am – becoming so absorbed in it that I didn't even realise what the time was. 

My family then asked if I would try and draw them from a picture. Obviously, people are ridiculously hard to draw, but at least they were my family, so if I made them look terrible they wouldn't be offended. I drew my mum first – she was pleased, as she said I'd made her look 20 years younger.

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THE HALFWAY POINT

I realised that all I had been doing so far was copying pictures and some people might not even consider this drawing in the true sense. So I did decide to mix it up a little bit and draw what I could see in front of me a few times, but they were really boring pictures, as it was generally whatever was in my bedroom - like, my wardrobe.

I only painted once and it was shockingly bad because of the aforementioned pitiful paint set I bought – the tiny paintbrush basically disintegrated as soon as I tried using it to mix any of the hard colours with water. 

I also tried out a couple of drawing apps on my iPhone, too. One was called 'Sketches', which allowed you to sketch from 10 different tools and a multitude of colours to 'draw on the go', as it were.

I'll spare you an example. I preferred drawing with an actual pencil.

AFTER

I realised that drawing was a sort of escapism for me.

I put my heart and soul into this challenge at the beginning. So much so that I think I burnt myself out too quickly. I was so exhausted after the first couple of weeks of drawing into the early hours of the morning that I ended up being unable to finish some of my drawings in the latter part of the month. I was spending too long on them.

I realised that drawing was a sort of escapism for me. When I was obsessed with making sure a foot looked like a foot, I wasn't thinking about anything else. It was just me, absorbed in my little drawing world. It was therapeutic. I look back on my sketchbook fondly now. I might even buy another.

TOP TIPS

  1.  Invest in some good drawing/painting paraphernalia – you will enjoy the experience more if you're not fighting against your tools. (Plus, the results will be better.)
  2. Start simple – I recommend drawing from pictures at first. It will help you get used to your pencils and with perspective.
  3. Don't get disheartened – there were some days that my drawings were just awful, but everyone has bad days. Persevere and be rewarded.
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