Stop making excuses! Start making Art! | Skillshare Projects

Cathy Abbott

Childrenswear designer, London



Stop making excuses! Start making Art!


My name is Cathy and I am a childrenswear designer.   I'm very lucky to have a job  that allows me use my creativity and imagination.   However the way that we work these days means that I spend most time in front of a computer and I started to feel frustrated that I wasn't being physically creative or making any of my own art, with my own hands.  So a couple of years ago I decided to start keeping a sketch book again.

I started with very good intentions and a sketch book covered in motivational stickers!  However, it has been hard to keep the momentum up and now I have dozens of half filled sketch books.   Which is why I have enrolled in Sketch Magic to try to get into the habit of creating a little bit of art everyday.

I always have a million reasons why I don't sketch, but none of these are very valid.   I have loads of art equiptment and I can always make time for things that are important to me.  But the main thing that holds me back is fear and procrastination.  I am my biggest critic,  I am never really happy with the artwork I produce, it could always be better.  But I just need to over come these hang ups and to stop judging my work before it has a chance to develop.

Sketching also seems quite self idulgent, I always worry that there are more important things I should be doing.  It is something that I am doing just for me and it can sometimes be hard to justify why it is important and neccessary.   

I also fear spoiling my sketch books! I worry that what I add, might detract from what is already in there.   I fret about what to put in and getting everything just right, and often practice on scraps of paper first.   (which sort of defeats the object of having a sketch book!)

But as Ria has said "the Antidote to fear is Action", So I'm really hoping that this class will help me to stop making excuse and start making art!

You can follow my progress here.

Day 1

The brief was to use whatever materials you had around you.   I decided to use these coloured fineliner pens that I have had for ages but have never really used.


Pens are usually used for quite precise/technical drawings.  But today's brief was about mark making so I wanted to explore diffferent ways of using the pens to make marks on the page.  I started by drawing these repetitive loops on the right hand side of the page. I didn't want to think too much about what I was drawing.  So by using a simple lines and shapes and then repeating this action over and over again, I was able to let go and allow the patterns and shapes to emerge.
I then moved on to cross hatching, creating lots of small rough rectangles, building them up to create a random patch work effect.


I wasn't completely happy with the way the patchwork was developing.  I found the pen marks quite heavy and thought the colours were a bit too stong.   I wanted to try getting softer results from the same material,  so started to create spots, by building up lots of tiny dots and just using the the tip of the pens.


Day 2

What to draw?  I picked out "My Home Town" from the magic bowl.  London, is where I live and where I grew up.  And I absolutely love this city!

The tool I selected was a medium sized brush.  I didn't have a lot of time so I grabbed a couple of bottles of ink and started to sketch some of London's iconic sights and symbols.  It was raining heavily outside, which is another thing everyone assosiates with London.


My fear of "ruining" my sketch book was almost realised when I started to paint on the back of the work from day 1.  The water from the ink went through the page and imediately started to mix with the pen work I had done the day before!  Eeek!!   But once the little sketch of the Gerkin had dried I realised that it had actually created quite a nice effect!  I love the way that the colour of the pens has bled through the page and added to the simple sketch, I might use this technique again sometime!  This has been a good lesson, to help me be a bit less precious about my work and to allow acciedents to happen.  (it doesn't look so good on the other side, but it's not the end of the world!)


The watery ink got me thinking about the river, so I then decided to sketch out the course of the river Thames.


Day 3

I have no time!

I got given 5 mins on the Dice and picked "Characters" from the Magic Bowl.  I love cinema and theatre, and studied Drama at University, so when I hear the word Character I imediately think of charcters from films or plays. But how would I draw these in such a short time?

Wes Anderson is one of my favourite film makers, his characters are always so memorable and always have a very distinctive look.  So in the short time that I had available I decided to do some quick caricatures of the Tenenenbaum siblings (from The Royal Tenenbaums).  I'm not completely happy with Margot's eyes, I wish I hadn't added eyelashes!  (Margot is all about the Kohl Eyeliner) But I mustn't be too hard on myself, and remember that it is just a quick sketch.

Confession time, I did go over my allotted time!  I drew all their heads within the initial 5 mins, but then added their clothing in after (and made few tweaks) so probably spent about 10 mins on this in total!


While ficking through the Wes Anderson Collection (a great book for Anderson fans) for inspiration.  I discovered a sketch of Steve Zissou (Bill Murray's character in The Life Aquatic) that I had started months ago while watching the film.  It was on a loose piece of paper and had been left in the book for safe keeping.  I have now stuck this additional page into my sketch book, to create a little Wes Anderson spread.  I plan to fill up the rest of the page with some more quick character doodles.

Wes Anderson is noted for the distinctive colour palettes that he uses in each of his films.   So to bring a little bit of colour to the page, I have used coloured tape which reflects the key colours from this film.


Day 4

Oh dear, I haven't reached the end of the class and I'm already slipping back into old habits!!  I haven't posted my progress for 4 days and it has been 3 days since I did any sketching.

On day 4, while looking into different places to sketch, I chose to sketch in front of the TV.   I should probably prioritise sketching over watching TV, but I really wanted to catch up on the final of the Great British Bake Off!!  So I thought I would see if I could use that time to also make a bit of art.   It wasn't the most productive hour of sketching I ever done, in true multi tasking style I was also cooking dinner at the same time!   But it did prove that there were little pockets of my day that I could squeeze a bit of sketching into.

The prompt from the Magic Bowl was 'my favourite things' and from my initial sketches these all look very unhealthy!!  I just used pen to create simple, slightly cartoony, line drawings. 


I did have a scrap of paper that I sketched very rough ideas onto, before sketching them up a little more neatly in my sketchbook.  Ultimately I would love to eliminate this stage, but I obviously wasn't feeling quite ready to do that.  But I have included my a pic of my rough sketches as a small step towards losing these inhibitions.


Earlier on Day 4 I also added a few more characters to my Wes Anderson Page.


Sadly, over the next 3 days I didn't manage to do any sketching at all!   I find it happens so easily, if you skip one day it's even harder to start up again the next day.  I had quite a full day on Friday, I was out and about doing things and didn't get a chance to watch the lesson. Saturday and Sunday were also very busy, and I got so caught up in all the various activities that we were doing (including a tour of a WW2 bunker, trip to the Tate Modern, 3 films at the London Film Festival and rehearsals for a play I'm currently involved in)  that sketching just slipped my mind.  I used to interpret this lack of action as a lack of desire or inclination, ie if I'm not finding time to make art that it is obviously not that important to me.  But I realise it is actually just a lack of discipline, and I just need to push myself a little harder until the good habits set in.   This is currently working for my fitness regime (going out walking and running first thing every morning), I just need to apply the same principles to my art practice!


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