I have been doing fast paint studies from my own photos. One hour each, a single layer, and only one brush. These constraints help keep me flexible in my process, and keeps my hand moving so I don't get into analysis paralysis. I am also learning to push colors to be a bit bolder than the reference I use, and finding ways to display complexity and detail with less work.
This exercise is also helping me process some of what has happened in the past five years, and gain some orientation as to where I am now. Life throws us seemingly continuous lessons to be learned and maintaining healthy habits to integrate and move forward with these lessons is imperative.
I encourage people to go outside, get close to nature, examine the way this world is in it's unabused form, appreciate the people (animals included) in your life, and transmute the difficult lessons we are taught into something beautiful. A photo on your phone is enough to record those moment s of divine beauty.
I have an originality complex.
Commonly I draw without any reference imagery other than what is in my mind. It has it's benefits, and it's limitations. Working from reference is SO important as an artist. Everything I draw is technically pulling from the visual library within, which is just an archive of experiences stored in memory.
I think drawing from the mind is the best way to develop a "personal style" as it is a direct draw from your personal perception. However, using reference images for drawing/painting from life teaches us so many valuable lessons. I am no anti-reference artist or originality elitist by any means. In fact making a habit of drawing directly from reference is one of my current goals as I return to my work and develop a new flow. I simply always encourage artists to focus on generating something original, to leave a legacy all their own.
Here are some of my sketchbook pages from reference.
I have so much artwork including sketches that I love, but don't show very much. In an attempt to keep my website and portfolio tidy, I leave out a lot of work.
I am going to share some of it here so it has a place to be seen. Most of these sketches are actually collected from very beat up sketchbooks, and compiled digitally for composition and cleanliness. Lately drawing has taken a backseat to rebuilding a life and all that that entails, but I am getting back to it slowly but surely.
Remember that even if you only draw one little doodle, play that instrument for ten minutes, write one paragraph, go for a short walk, or whatever you are focused on, a little bit each day builds something great over time. A habit. Building habits that lead you toward your goals is imperative in actually reaching them.
Explore your heart and mind. Not every day has to be a masterpiece. The masterpiece is all of them put together.
P.S. You can also see more archived artwork on my discord channel. Check it out:
Artist, designer, musician, writer, craftsman, nature geek...