Professional Development or Charity Learns to Draw Again

When I first came in contact with German culture face-to-face, I suddenly thought, "Wow, I really am German."  The precision and effectiveness, the stoic and reserved personalities, the (sometimes illogical) adherence to rules all resounded with my being.

Being an adult living thousands of miles from parents and mentors, I don't have anyone really standing over me, telling me what to do.  This isn't always appealing to my personality.  I like structure, deadlines, and specific goals.  As such, goal-setting is an important regular part of my life.  When I'm not in a regular cycle of goal-setting, evaluating progress, and adjusting goals, I feel out of balance.

Since I finished my university art program, I've made very few art pieces; as such, I made a goal in January to make one finished piece of art each month of 2014.  It didn't have to be conceptual, just finished. January 31st I was sitting in my flat with fingers shining with the gleam of graphite and an eraser running clean-up duty along a pencil portrait, trying to restore the highlights to an image drawn from a digital photograph.  The lack of a live model left the drawing feeling flat, as did my 2H pencil, which refused to shade beyond middle gray.

In February, I had a bit more success.  I'd been doing a couple of watercolour units with my students, and I began to grow jealous of their work.  This led me to starting a watercolour painting of my own during one of the lessons.  As a result, my February art piece was already finished mid-month.

Then March hit, and brought sunshine that tempted me out-of-doors.  Though I'd bought rough and inviting paper and quality watercolours in February, the seals remained just that.  But, being a good German, a commitment is a commitment, and this 31st of March, I sat down to draw at about 10 pm...after a day of teaching and an evening of bilingual parent-teaching lessons.

The result is a not-so-finished, annoyed-with-myself self-portrait. I drew with my eraser too far off to be used, a bad lighting set-up, and a heavy head which wouldn't maintain a consistent position.  It's no surprise that the drawing lacks accuracy and a full range of middle values.  But, I write this as a good German who desires and dreads accountability.  So the teacher is now become the procrastinating student, a bit embarrassed to show the results of half-hearted, too-late effort.  Hopefully April's work will be better.


  1. If you're having trouble conveying volume when drawing from a photo, I can recommend this book by Andrew Loomis. It's the best drawing teacher I've ever had, since it establishes an intuitive process for understanding the form, and thereby "constructing" heads and hands. It really is an amazingly useful book.

    1. The whole book?! Holy Moses! Thank you for this link! I've only seen a couple of these pages before. Andy Loomis is awesome.

    2. If you like that one I'm sure you'll appreciate this:

  2. Speaking of making goals (mine is writing 500 words / day), I just posted this productivity calendar on my blog. I think your German side might find it helpful. Plus, it's full of outlines to color in.


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