Work Rhythms

Yesterday I mentioned going analog for my planning. Well, that’s still awesome, but today I tried to do something with one of my favorite digital tools.

It’s a timer app on my phone called Clockwork Tomato. It’s a Pomodoro Timer (for the Pomodoro Technique) that you can set up to remind you to get up and move at certain intervals.

I can usually only find deep focus for about an hour at a time, and I like to get up and stretch quite a bit, so I have MY custom little timer set up to go off every 19 minutes for a 1-minute stretch-and-drink-water break.

Every three rounds and I get a 15-minute break to stretch out on the floor, do some light exercise, go for a walk in the woods around the cabin, or read a little bit of a book — then I’m back at it!

I love the simplicity of the technique. It keeps me energized, focused, and limber. Most importantly, it gets me up out of the chair! Rhythms are important for more than gesture drawing, they’re essential for maintaining your health, posture, and energy.

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Analog Geek

I really love technology. I love finding apps and programs that make my work easier. I love to tinker and create templates and checklists and systems…

But I decided to try something new today. Instead of typing out my morning journal and planning…I did it on paper. With my fountain pen, because I can’t COMPLETELY un-geek.

And you know what? It was incredibly effective. By not cracking open my laptop and letting 5 tabs open up in the middle of my writing…I was able to get it done in record time. By slowing my thinking enough to WRITE it by hand…I was able to think more clearly.

Now — I’m a convert. Or a revert. I haven’t done hand-written journaling in about 3 years, but I will be from now on.

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Not a Mechanic

The starter went out…and I tried to fix it.

I learned a valuable lesson while trying to fix the starter in my car, though…I’m not a mechanic! I’m pretty good at tinkering with things, doing minor repairs to my vehicle, being MOSTLY self-sufficient.

But I’m not a mechanic, and the starter is a very difficult part to reach in a cramped engine bay. So I decided to hire a mechanic.

That’s a good thing to do, honestly. I spent half of my work day yesterday failing to repair my vehicle. How much more bandwidth would I have had if I’d just outsourced it to someone who was more efficient, more effective, and just overall better suited to the job?

Probably a lot. Just a thought.

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Welcome Home

I got home from vacation yesterday at approximately 430 am. And promptly went to sleep. I didn’t get to follow my regular protocols for the drive home, so I needed a day of recovery.

That’s hard to pull off with kids! But it’s nice to be home and back on track.

I’m very much an introvert, so I love being at home, I love my solitude. I love quiet time to sit and think. I’ll be pushing for more of that in my life over the coming months.

How about you? Do you prefer to be around crowds or to sit in a quiet room with a sketchbook? I’ll take the sketchbook, please!

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Create

I got to sit in silence today while I was doing some digital painting. I got to create in solitude.

And that’s what I love to do. Create. Creation is an act of building something, pulling an idea from your mind and making it real.

Our imagination, our ability to build, it’s what separates us from everything else. We created language, we created art, we created architecture. We create.

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Super-Powers

I just drafted a long email for my subscribers about super-powers. And how creativity is one of the ultimate super-powers.

It’s part of what makes us HUMAN. To create. To build. To innovate. Destruction is natural for the rest of the animal kingdom, but humans create.

That’s not to say that humans aren’t destructive. We all have the capacity for destruction, as well. But just because we can, does that mean we should?

I choose to create, not destroy.

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Hard Reset

The last few weeks have been hectic. I bit off more than I could chew and I burned out.

That’s right. I failed by taking on too much. I just couldn’t keep up with my basics. The fundamentals slipped. I may have been drawing almost every day over the past week, but I didn’t post it. I’ve been working incredibly hard on the Drawing Foundations launch and didn’t give myself enough time to take care of myself or stick to my regular routines.

Then I have another business, and one in the works! Trying to build Affinity Art Co. from the ground up (and relying on other people to help with that) has been exhausting.

In a recent email discussion with a friend, I told him that I was trying to do less STUFF so I could really focus on the few things I take on. Single-tasking.

Without realizing it, I lied to him. What I thought I was living wasn’t the truth. The truth was that I do a lot of stuff. And I haven’t been able to commit to it all. Yesterday, after doing my weekly review a day late (and my monthly review to look at the last month and plan for the month ahead) I came to the realization that I have too many projects.

I also made the decision yesterday to do a hard reset on my commitments. I’m clearing the table of everything I had on it, then slowly placing things back (in order of importance) until the table is set nicely.

My health comes first. Without being in good shape physically and mentally, I won’t be able to perform at my best. So I’m sleeping more, drinking more water again, and exercising daily. My diet didn’t suffer during this intense period of burnout because I have an amazing wife who stuck to her routines, even while her husband was going mad.

My regular habits come next. What are the things I truly want to commit to in my life? My family and creating. For me, that means spending quality time with my family, creating art, and teaching. So the daily drawing is happening again, and I’m taking a vacation with my family this week.

Drawing Foundations v2.0 took a toll, and it’s still not a finished project, but I need to take a breather. So my social media is on hold, my other business is on hold, and Affinity is taking up a minimal amount of time.

Extra commitments (other than unfinished, urgent projects) are on hold. At least until I swing the pendulum back toward balance over the next week. It’s time to breathe and hard reset.

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I Had To Laugh

No, this is not my normal drawing routine, but by the recommendation of Chris Beaven, I’m working my way (slowly) through Kimon Nicolaides’ The Natural Way to Draw.

These lessons are incredibly difficult and take a lot of focus! The results aren’t things that one would normally show off, but I have no shame! I’m already a professional production artist as a tattooer, so if my clients get scared away by funny blind contours…well…those aren’t my kind of client!

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A Challenge of Contour

Today’s exercise was an interesting and challenging one. I’ve done blind contour drawings before, but never with so much attention to the senses.

This is the first block of the first exercise from Kimon Nicolaides’ The Natural Way to Draw — and I’m surprised at my results. Yes, she’s wonky, but most blind contours are…well…messy. And I tend to not worry about contour when I’m doing drawing.

I’ve been trained much more in line with constructive drawing rather than what I’ll coin “natural drawing” for now (until the textbook tells me otherwise.)

It’s nice to step outside of my comfort zone to see what new methods, mental representations, and techniques I can pick up. And it was incredibly challenging!

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