So, I know exactly what you’re all wondering. How did that getting up at 5AM every morning go? Well, let’s see. Pros and cons.
Pros: I got a lot of extra drawing time in. I figure 45+ hours on figure drawing alone. That’s some good stuff. And it got me a whole lot more comfortable with figure drawing. For example, here’s some one-minute poses from the first of the month and another page of them from the 30th:
You can see there’s a lot less sketchyness and a lot more bulk and mass. Most of figure drawing is knowing the figure so well you can just whip it out with a lot of confidence, and therefore get your own expression and opinion out there without getting tangled up in proportions and limbs. To do so, you just have to draw it over and over and over and over again. I’ve been using Posemaniac’s app for my gestures (which really needs improvement, but the iPad is great to draw from) and though the figures are low on realistic accuracy and detail, they come in hundreds of variations from all different angles. Throughout the month I interspersed some longer poses with the short ones, working from photographs of figure models, and now and then Sweet Bart. Sweet Bart proved very challenging. Not only is he, well, articulated, but he doesn’t stand “naturally” and I’m looking rather down on him most of the time, too. So he tends not to have a very realistic nature in a true drawing of him, though he is fabulous for planning realistic lighting. Anyway, at the first of the month I could hardly handle him, but by the last I kind of got him down:
(Yes, I write notes to myself – like “BAD” there – on my sketches all the time.)
Those stolen hours also gave me time to work on my current master-copy of Caravaggio’s The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus, which I finally finished last week. I used a 6B pencil throughout and really missed the sharpness of my mechanical, even though it covered faster. I’ll probably go back to the mechanical next time around, but also probably choose a picture with a lot less shadow! I’m thinking about a certain lady’s portrait, but I have to look up the details. Anyway, here is Saint Paul:
I also used the time to do that really difficult drawing stuff for commission work. I got one painting done (drawing early and then painting later on) and two drawings set up to be finished in the coming weeks:
The first of those, that lovely lady in the chair, will be a full painting. The second is going to be colored lineart, which is why it looks so sketchy now, as I have to do the lineart thing with it.
I *really* wanted to get some long-term projects done in April, too, but that’s where the drawbacks of getting up at 5AM come in. Those first two and a half hours were fantastic, and I would take a short walk after and be all ready for the day. And then I would get tired. Not just tired, but *exhausted* tired. Like I just want to close my eyes and sleep right now right here tired. I was getting to bed by 11 most nights but that simply wouldn’t do. As the weeks went by I started falling asleep while drawing at 6 or 6:30AM. I would totally lose concentration in the afternoon. And even after a nap, I was so tired in the evening one night I stuck my finger in an immersion blender while cleaning it and turned it on.
Cooking is a major hobby of mine and I spend a lot of time around sharp things. I don’t usually mutilate my digits, ever. (It’s okay now, but was a very *scary* and traumatic injury.) Although it was kind of therapeutic to be drowsy all the time – I was *very* relaxed – the loss of focus in the afternoon hours was honestly a little debilitating. The two pieces I’ve been working on I got closer to finished, but not quite. So you all will just have to wait a little longer for Snow White and the Zombie.
Anyway, I got up at 5AM for more or less thirty days. There were two days over the past weekend I slept in because I was feeling sick, and maybe two or three where I went back to bed around 6 and slept for an hour. But most days I was up and going. And I did learn that I really *am* a morning person, like I’ve always wanted to be. That’s a great thing that I definitely want to keep up. Once I got it sorted out, my schedule worked really well. I loved getting done with work early and having time in the evening to exercise and relax and cook and stuff. So getting up and scheduling = good things. Sleep deprivation, not so good.
So this month I’m pushing wake-up time to 6AM, trying to keep a steady sleep-time at 11PM, and working more with scheduling and todo lists to keep myself using the time I have the best I can. Lifehacker has some great advice for productivity, much of it not as extreme as getting up at 5AM. Hopefully I can put two and two together and do even MORE.