Drawing Challenge: Why I’m Drawing Bears for 90 days, and What I’ve Learned So Far

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Why Draw 90 Bears?

  • Before starting a drawing challenge, I was only consuming content. Nightly — okay, every spare moment — I was perusing Instagram and consuming other creators content when, as a creator, I should have been contributing.
  • I say I love to draw but haven’t consistently for years. Occasiionally I’d doodle during a work meeting and I was (am) frightfully out of practice for someone who’s title is “designer”.
  • I need to follow through/commit/finish something — ANYTHING. Instagram is keeping me accountable.
  • I need the discipline. No more procrastination. Even thought I’ve missed days, I’ve caught up.
  • I’ve got the time even though I thought I didn’t. I work full-time, am a mother to a funny toddler, try to take care of the domestic stuff at home, and could easily say I just don’t have the time. But I do. I’m choosing to create instead of being sucked into Instagram. I can create while watching TV, listening to podcasts, or watching that British period movie on Netflix my husband has no interest in 🙂 This all may seem obvious, unless you’re an excuse-maker like me.
  • I needed to publish something. I’ve been too afraid for too long to put myself out there.
  • I LOVE BEARS. How great will it be at the end of this challenge to have 90 bear drawings to do with as I please?

 

5 Things I’ve Learned So Far

  1. Drawing like someone else can be helpful, but so far it hasn’t brought me much value. I’ve learned to take general drawing techniques instead and am able to apply to my own illustration.
  2. Drawing everyday has allowed me to make mistakes and I can draw random/crazy ideas. It has allowed me to practice creativity without bounds. There are no wrong ideas and it keeps thing exciting when I can jump outside expectations.
  3. This challenge has allowed me to realize that I’ve got other blocks of time I can fill with learning new skills that would have otherwise been filled with consuming. I’ve taken Skillshare classes in small chunks, picked up marketing and creative business tips minutes at a time, and am trying to squeeze in more written blog content.
  4. I need to remember that I’m not creating content to get likes and follows, which can feel like the driving force at first. We all want that validation when we start something new. But really no one cares, until one day they do. A challenge like this is ultimately to grow better as an artist/designer. And maybe then it’ll lead to getting paid for creative work, but that will certainly be a bonus.
  5. I CAN draw bears. At this point, I am 33 days into the challenge and the progress I’ve seen has been encouraging.

 

 

Suggestions on Starting a Drawing Challenge

You make the rules

Set some rules that are easy to follow. You make them. No one else is driving this challenge so you might as well make it easy to follow through.

My rules are simple: draw a least one bear, once a day. That’s it. With a rule that open-ended, it allows for a lot of interpretation. I could draw a teddy bear, grizzly bear, a bear as an ice cream cone, or practice the silhouette of a bear walking in the woods. Even though I committed to drawing a bear a day for 90 days, I still miss a day or two. But (surprisingly) I don’t get down on myself and just make it up when I can. Which is huge. Don’t give up when you “fail” like that.

 

Build up a backlog

Before you start publishing, build up about 2-3 weeks worth of daily drawings. This will ensure that you’re up for it. It will also allow for some grace when you miss a day or two.

 

Don’t draw like someone else

Draw the way you do and improve on that. If you are drawing like someone else, you’ll be focused on creating a copy. Can you really share that and say that it’s yours? If you feel the need to copy, get it out of your system outside of your notebook and learn from it. Did the other illustrator draw a nose/mouth/ear differently? How did they show a character in motion or draw a certain emotion?

 

If it’s not working, give yourself a break

Get some inspiration, but don’t copy. Go for a walk or do a different task. My favorite drawings have come from when I’ve had time away from the blank page.

 

Try not to make up your missed days in rapid fire

Some of my worst drawings were done when I did 4 at a time and rushed through them. Some were very “inspired” (copied) from other illustrators just so I could plow through them and say I did them. Give yourself some time and ERASE if you have to.

 

ERASE. ERASE. ERASE.

As mentioned above, if it’s not working — erase. Start over. That’s the beauty of pencil. P.S. use pencil.

 

Use Simple Tools

Use a notebook that you can bring with you anywhere. Use simple tools so you don’t get caught up on not having them with you. If you’re anything like me who loves to find excuses to procrastinate, make it easy not to.

 

Be excited about your subject

Draw a subject you are interested in so you’re excited about it and don’t get bored. Can you really draw a dolphin jumping out of the water and being chased by sharks every day and still be interested? Maybe. Make sure you’re up for being creative everyday.

 

After the 90 days are over, don’t stop.

90 days may sound like a big timeline already. Originally, I was going to only do a 30 day challenge. I’m so glad now because I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride around day 27. After this drawing challenge is over, I will either start another challenge or continue draw bears indefinitely. Keep the momentum going and don’t disappoint your new followers 🙂

 

Make Prints and/or Products

May as well have an end goal in mind. Turn your best drawings into prints and sell them. You can scan them as is and print them yourself, or redraw and really flesh them out.

Here are some ideas on how to do that. I have not done any of these myself, but it would be a great way to get your artwork out there.

  • Scan and print the artwork yourself and simply sell with Paypal over social media
  • Open up an Etsy / BigCartel / Storenvy store (duh) and push your followers there to purchase
  • Create products with your artwork on it with Society6