Sadly, I had to leave my job for health reasons a few months ago and I have struggled quite a bit with this change. At first my GP helped me and then eventually I managed to arrange some phone counselling to work through it all.
Now I’m not going to go into details about any of the counselling itself here, except to say that it’s been incredibly helpful. What I have found though, with respect to my art, is that it is of real therapeutic benefit.
Firstly, art it is a form of meditation for me a lot of the time, and this has been very helpful. It’s very soothing to draw and paint. It feels a bit like putting a really good hand cream on very chapped hands. Secondly though, it gives me this wonderfully safe space in my head and on the canvas where I can work things out. I don’t know if this kind of thing would work for everyone, some people are more at home with words than visuals, but for me it has been very useful indeed.
This is a drawing I did as I mulled over a question my counsellor left me with at the end of a session…
It was initially done in ink on paper and then toned with Mars Lumograph pencils.
Then I scanned it into my computer and coloured it like this…
I wonder if other artists find art is supportive in this way? Maybe some writers and musicians feel the same way?
This set of sketches was also done really quickly while watching Netflix and YouTube. I’m working towards being able to draw fast and clearly enough to be able to draw and write a comic book one day. Each sketch takes about ten minutes. I think when working on a real project, rather than just doing some sketching practice, I would definitely take more time. The question is, how fast would I need to go to be at a professional level in terms of time?
Professional Comic Artists
Well, in the comic industry the gold standard is that the penciller would be expected to draw 20 pages a month, which, if you take account of the weekends is one page a day for four weeks straight working only weekdays. But that is just the pencils, no ink, no colour or tone and no lettering. The person who inks the drawing will take less time to ink each page than the penciller did to do the drawing. Colour and tones take even less time and lettering, when done well apparently, takes a day for a whole book! (all 20 pages).
I know that some artists find this pace way too fast and feel forced by the timeline into producing work that isn’t their best which sounds miserable. Many work at a slower pace. Conversely, comic artist legend Jack Kirby famously drew at an even faster rate – producing an average of 3 pages a day and sometimes did up to 6!!! If I were to produce a comic book, with the constraints of my health and a job (which has to come first), I would have to work fast to be able to get it done in a reasonable time frame. If I stopped all other art I think I could get a page done in a week, working just in the evenings although it would depend on my health remaining OK.
Neria the Thanatologist
This is a sketch from Star Trek Voyager of an alien male. He was called Neria and was a Thanatologist from the planet Vhnori. He was played by Jerry Hardin. I like the sculpting of his head shape and enjoyed trying to capture that in a quick sketch. (The still (left) is not the same pose and camera angle as the one I drew when pausing Netflix.)
Here’s the sketch…
The next exercise was to draw a screenshot of a nature programme I was watching about coastal ecology. The camera man in this series captured a really stunning shot of the coastline and I had a go at sketching it…
This one took a full ten minutes to complete and I really felt pushed for time.
The final drawing was of a man’s hand. I was watching someone scrubbing up for surgery in a documentary. It seemed to me that a surgeon’s hands are incredibly important precision tools. Watching him scrub, I saw the care he took to do things properly and became really fascinated by his hands. I made the drawing of this really quickly (less than 5 minutes) but blew another full 5 on the shading with my brush pens. Here’s the final result…