Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Playing with Pencils

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I often remark on my lack of skill when it comes to drawing.
Apart from some personal “problems” – my hand tends to be heavy – I think any artistic proficiency I had was fully eradicated in primary school: much as I loved dabbling with pencils and paper when I was a kid, the first two years of school were totally language-oriented. Sketching or “fooling around with pencils” was actively discouraged.
As a result, I’m good at words, but I can’t draw to save my life.168814

And yet…
Back when I worked in a call center, to pass the long idle hours of the night shift, I got me a handbook – the ten times excellent Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson 1 – a drawing block and some pencils, and in a few months I went from completely helpless to not half bad at drawing still lifes and quick scenes.
Nothing worth writing home about, but from the absolute nothing that had characterized my life for twenty-odd years, it was certainly an improvement.

In the last few years I spent a few summer afternoons sketching and playing with pencils.
I’ll never be an artist, but sometimes it helps putting certain ideas on paper – or out of my head.
One great suggestion I got when I started was to look at artists I like and plain copy them – and it works.

1116843Now, I just got a strange Christmas gift – strange but beautiful: Bryan Baugh’s Swords & Sorcery – How to Draw Fantastic Fantasy Adventure Comics.
I browsed through it and I thought, Yeah, sure, I’m totally going to draw stuff like this.
I mean – the book’s beautiful, but my skill is absolutely not up to it.

And yet…

So I decided I’ll do some more sketching.
Now, let’s make this clear – this story that I’m going to improve my drawing skills is basically my routine new year proposition.
There’s people that every new year decides to lose weight – I usually decide I’ll improve my sketching.
And the results are the same – I fail in keeping my proposition somewhere between February and March…

But what the heck – why not try it?
As things stand now, I spend most of my time either reading or writing.
I need to find something else to do in my free time, something with less to do with words.
And all things considered, drawing is cheap, eco-friendly and helps keep the brain at work.

And then there’s the web – and the web is crawling with drawing and sketching tutorials!

Such is my commitment, that I created a Pinboard, collecting a few tutorials and instructional resources.

We’ll see what happens.



  1. I was lucky – I picked the cheapest handbook in the bookstore, and it happened to be the best… or at least the best suited to my needs. 
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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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