Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Good Plan Goes Gold

JKPP member Kristijan Kozic (Kris Kozi) recently published an essay in his native Croatian on the benefits of a daily practice, learning to draw, and the role of JKPP in his undertaking. I enjoyed Kris' essay and commend his process, which he continues to this day. I'm also a big fan of daily practice - I think the best thing I ever did for myself as an artist was commit to drawing every day more than 4 years ago.

Kris' original essay can be found here:
Front page of the magazine
Kris' essay

After it was published, we tracked a surge of 80+ visits to the JKPP pool from Croatia.

Kris and I worked together to translate his essay to English.
December's essay by Irena Čorko Meštrović was devoted to the process of writing novels, and in this issue you can read something about how to dedicate time to painting. This model can be used to develop any skill.

The idea of daily time for yourself, which would also include time for creativity, was put in my mind by another Irena (Krčelić this time). She recommended the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron.

One of the fundamental ideas of this book is to write a page every day in the morning. One writes a stream of consciousness, without any barriers or self-criticism, in order to free the roads of creative expression.

I failed. I am not a morning guy, so I switched to evenings. The time of day didn't seem important when the main thing was to write. But then my handwriting started to bother me because it is very messy.

I tried using the computer but I am not the only user of our home computer. Therefore I couldn’t just use it whenever I wanted, so it only created anxiety, which is the reverse of the essential point of this method.

Morning or evening pages, handwritten or typed pages, it did not matter, there were no pages.

In addition, I have an affinity for writing, or, in fact, the ambition to write, so there was always a certain dose of self-criticism. I did not pass this stage, and I stopped trying to write ‘morning pages’.

But I continued to look for a model that would fit.

Coaching - a good plan goes gold

JKPP Vin Ganapathy/somannabopannaAt a coaching training I accidentally blurted out that I would like to know how to draw. The idea rolled and in early October 2010 I made a plan with the coach.

The plan was this:

Objective: By the end of March 2011. improve my ability to draw people and animals, using pens or pencils, from the current self-assessment of 3 (on a scale of 1 to 10) to 9.

Plan of action:

1) Collect 15-20 photo / drawing templates from various magazines.
2) At least 5 times a week, practice drawing for a period of 15 to 20 minutes at the end of the day and without the presence of distractions such as music, TV, or other people.
3) Through the next month explore deeper and more detailed 'how-to' web pages that I have already visited, which can help me develop my drawing skills.
4) About once a month seek reviews on the progress of my drawing from my wife and a friend who is a painter
5) By the end of the year, try to reach the level of successfully drawing the composition and / or a recognizable subject.
6) Then continue with intensive practice.

The plan was there and I just had to go on the path to mastery.

Customizing the plan and the elimination of all “distractions”.

The original plan was altered in some detail. I gave up on pictures from magazines because I was not interested in the images that were available. The idea was to draw only what I like. Politicians, and other models that appear in magazines do not fall into that category, so I found a good website with photos that I could use.

I used A4 size paper and printed the source picture on one half so that the other half remained empty for drawing.

One of the important things in the beginning was to make it very easy to do my practice. The things I needed for drawing - the marker and the template - were always in the same place, and I could start as soon as I wanted. I tried to completely eliminate the possibility of something distracting me.

I stayed with this plan and gradually got caught up in drawing. The daily 15-minute time was negligible, and the results were quickly visible.

Julia Kay's Portrait Party

JKPP Michael SchollAfter three months, it crossed my mind that I could begin to draw portraits.

Searching the Internet instructions and guides, I accidentally ran into a group on Flickr under the name Julia Kay's Portrait Party.

As politicians, models, actors and such did not suit me as models (such faces are seen the most everywhere you look), a group of people who portrait each other was exactly what I wanted.

The Portrait Party has nearly 500 members and it is a great, fun support group where people portray each other. The energy is only positive. There are no negative comments and criticism - it is an unwritten rule. Membership of the group is colorful in all directions - national, racial, professional, and anything you can think of – you can portray a bus driver from New York, a missionary from South Korea, or perhaps a professional painter from Barcelona ...

The rules are simple: portray only those persons who are in the group, no self-portraits, and the group is not for photographic portraits.

If you are interested to participate, first read the simple rules. Before applying, put some of your drawings on your Flickr profile - the group is for those who draw or paint. Then go to this page, click on "Join" button, and follow the instructions. If you are not good with English, let them know that, they will find a way to help you. Feel free to contact me and if you get stuck.

To join a group requires approval by Julia Kay – in general, for acceptance and clarification of the rules and instructions on how to post photos of yourself, your portraits of others... the usual technicalities ... Julia is a very pleasant lady.

For those who already know and for those who might want to know, if you draw or paint, I recommend this excellent group. If you do have a desire to draw, just 15 minutes a day can change it.

PS: Perhaps it should be noted that last summer when I drew a dog, my daughter (then two years old) was the only one who thought it was a dog. In fact, she said: "How ugly doggy." Everyone else thought that this was a calf, a horse or an unidentified animal. Today it's a different story - anyone can learn to draw!

See you at the party!


  1. always so interesting to hear about another artist's process, thank you Kris and Julia

  2. What a lovely story :-) And how true it is that the more you draw the more you learn and develop. Thanks Julia and Kris :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing your story! Very encouraging!

  4. Very good post, Thank you Julia and Kris.
    I tried too the morning pages and could not do it.
    I switched to everyday drawing and need my dose now!
    Kris your portraits are beautiful!

  5. Kris, so pleased you joined the party. Thanks for sharing your inspirational tale! Happy drawing!

  6. An inspirational interview. Thanks for sharing this Kris and Julia.

  7. This is a great story - thank you for sharing

  8. PS - I did the morning pages for a while and it could have been coincidental but during that period all kinds of positive changes in my life came together....

  9. Very interesting and inspiring!