Musical Education: How to Practice for Excellent Results (Part 2)

For obvious reasons, practice is the most important thing for learning and mastering a piece of music. Anyone can practice, but not everybody knows how to practice. “What on earth is she talking about? Practice is practice,” you may be thinking right now. But randomly running through a song a hundred times isn’t going to give you the results that you’re looking for.

Below I have listed out all the tips that I have found extremely useful in learning a piece of music and mastering it. Not that I’m a pro or anything; if they were all my ideas, I wouldn’t venture to say them. But they are all used by the pros, so they are tried and true to help you get the farthest. Continue reading “Musical Education: How to Practice for Excellent Results (Part 2)”

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Journey to Love: Mid-Way

For the past nine months, I have been working on writing the book, Journey to Love.
It’s about a young couple (Kirk and Julie) who find out what true love looks like. No, this is not a romance novel. Yes, it does have some romance in it. The reason is this: I see a huge selection of Christian romance novels on the market and they’re a big hit. The problem is that they go huge on romance, but barely mention God and Christianity. Romantic love is a wonderful, natural thing, but yet it is important to remember that it is so small compared to the kind of love it symbolizes. Continue reading “Journey to Love: Mid-Way”

Little James and the Model Doll

My sister and I were doing some much needed fall cleaning in our bedroom, when my sister found my favorite doll. She is life sized, and just about as realistic looking as you’ll get with a doll. When I was young, she was my baby! As I contemplated sending her up to the attic, a sudden thought hit me; Why not draw a picture of her?

In the end, I used her as a model and drew a little black boy. While I was drawing, the name James, appeared in my head out of nowhere and stuck. Funny, ’cause I don’t normally like the name James (no offense meant to anybody with that name!).

If you know me, you might know that I love drawing little kiddos! Out of all the pictures of family, friends, and other “random” people that I’ve drawn in the past year, four of them were little boys (with another next in line to draw!)! 🙂 Hmm, maybe it’s time I find some girls?!

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“James” 9″x12″ Bristol Board

How to Draw a Face Correctly (Even if You’re not an Artist)

Often times, how-to art books explain everything but the very basics. Most of them make you feel like you would have to be somewhat of an artist already to even try to do what they tell you will work.

For me, it was so extremely helpful to find out what composes a person’s face, and  where to put things. The eyes, nose, etc. So I have made a very straight forward list for you, that I hope will be helpful in figuring things out. Please, it is not actually a hard thing to learn if you have the right foundations to start from (a good attitude about drawing is great too.). So relax, it’s not scary. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

Proportions

  1. The eyes. If the person in the picture is looking straight at you, you will have five eye widths at the level of the eyes. In other words, the width of one of the eyes will be the width between the side of the head and the eye, and between the eyes. The eyes are also placed exactly in the middle of the head from top to bottom.
  2. The nose. This is a facial feature that is almost always gotten wrong. The length of the nose is basically the same as the width of the eye. The wings of the nose should be at least as far over as the inner corner of the eyes.
  3. The mouth. The mouth is placed a third of the way between the nose and the bottom of the chin; that is, being the closest third to the nose. If the person is smiling, the edge of the mouth will be directly below the pupil of the eye (if the person is looking straight at you.).
  4. The ears. The ear tops generally are in line with the eye brows. The bottoms are generally in line with the bottom of the nose.

As far as the rest of the face, play around with it! It’s no science.

Other important tips

  1. Go off a picture. Truthfully, the best place to start drawing realistic faces, is to grab a nice black and white photo and copy it, and preferably a friend or family member. Doing it this way, you will be able to get a far better picture and learn how the shape of the eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and everything in between, is composed. After several of these portraits, you can step out and try a simple sketch using the tools you have learned. But in general (and this goes for experienced artists too), you will always have to have a picture or model to go off of to get the picture to look like a specific person. Help hint: Using a grid is the easiest way. You can purchase drawing grids, or make your own by drawing a quarter inch grid on a clear sheet to place over your original picture. You then lightly draw another grid of the same size on you drawing paper which you will erase after the sketch is complete and before the shading is started. 
  2. If all else fails, go stand in front of a mirror, and just stare at yourself for a good long while; noticing where different things are placed, how far apart, and how they are shaded in a rather general way. But it is NOT my suggestion to try to start here. It can all be too confusing if you don’t have too much of an idea what to look for. Where I like to use this is when I am sketching freehand (not off of a picture), and forgot where on earth something is placed or how it is shaded.
  3. Lastly, have fun! It’s truly not a science. People come in all shapes and sizes, so if you flub up… don’t worry. Just try again!

I would also like to point you to another post, Feeling Hopeless? I Was Too! where I share more, as well as some great links!

Feeling Hopeless? I Was Too!

I love creating with graphite and have been doing so since I was big enough to handle a pencil. I was always frustrated that that my pictures didn’t turn out like those in the how-to art books. I thought maybe I didn’t have the knack. Or maybe I was just too stupid to get what they were saying.

Fact is, that is how a lot of beginning artists feel. They’re bombarded by all sorts of techniques and ways to do things, and they get confused. And no, it is not their fault. It is because the people who write the books learned the hard way and don’t know how to teach them anything different. Those weird boxes and circles that are supposed to shape your portrait, really are confusing unless you have an experienced eye.

So I blundered around for a while. I thought it was cheating to go off of a picture to get the portrait I was drawing correct. That is, until my parents gave me a video tutorial on drawing by Carrie Stuart Parks, a world renowned artist. I found out that she, a very talented and experienced artist, goes off pictures all the time!

She also teaches graphite drawing in a very easy to understand way. She tells you how to do it and why, rather than just assuming that you can naturally just see it, as everybody else does. She also has several helpful and amazing books on realistic drawing which you can find here.

After watching the video, I was encouraged and decided to try my hand again using her advice… and it worked! Okay, so I didn’t become a pro overnight (of course), nobody does.

Below, I compare before and after portraits that were drawn only a year apart. I did the first ones free hand (not going off a picture) and the second two from a picture (remember, it’s not cheating!). The reason I want to share this with you, is to help you realize that it is possible, no matter how “bad” you think you are, to draw good quality pictures in a relatively short amount of time. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to go check out Carrie’s books and video and begin to draw the things you love!

As the examples above show, just with a very small amount of  education, I was able to greatly improve my technique. Of course, I’m still learning and perfecting. But I feel that I have come a long way from a year ago.

I believe that truly anybody can learn how to draw. No matter how good or bad they feel that they currently are. It isn’t just about the talent that you were born with (that is apparent in very few people), it’s about what you do with your interests and learning the best you can. Put your mind to it, and see what happens.

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Drawing My Grandma

This is a follow up of my last post about my Grandma.

When my Grandpa’s birthday came up this year, I decided to draw a picture of Grandma for him. As I was drawing and shading, I became quite nervous about the outcome – she just didn’t look like the grandma I knew! I didn’t know what to do but keep on. And I’m so glad I did. As soon as I put her mouth in (I always do the mouth last), I suddenly saw my dear Grandma  looking back at me. It was a neat transformation of the picture I had just previously felt like throwing in the trash.

Here’s how it went:

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The sketch
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Easy part done!
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My grandma?? um!
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Complete!

So here’s a bit of advice to any of you who are artists, and those who want to be but feel like you’re failing. Keep on until the picture is complete. If you put your mind to it, chances are slim that it will be a complete flop. Patience is something that any artist must have. Hours of work can turn a blank sheet of paper, into a beautiful picture.

“He that can have patience can have what he will.”

Benjamin Franklin

Something I do to keep my mind stimulated (and keep me from getting bored after thirty minutes), is to listen to music. But don’t listen to really fast or slow music. Fast music makes me feel like I can’t work fast enough and becomes overwhelming. Slow music drags me down until I feel like jumping up and down and throwing the picture at the wall. Figure out what works best with you, and good luck!