Tuesday, July 07, 2009

July 7, 2009
As I mentioned this morning, I have contacted a feature writer about doing a piece on my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings. Here is the query letter:

The 10,000 Bad Drawings of BBB

I am closing in on 10,000 bad drawings. As of today I have documented 9,340 sketches and drawings, stored in a series of sketchbooks bought at Aaron Brothers at Desert Ridge.

My quest started on a dare, or, actually, a statement made, by fellow cartoonist, Dave Sim (of Cerebus fame), who once claimed, "Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him." I remember thinking at the time I read it (probably in the mid-1980s) that the claim was probably accurate. And, from time to time, I wondered how far along I was on the path.

Several years ago, the notion hit me that I would test this rule and arbitrarily decided I would execute six sketches a day until I made the prerequisite 10K number and see for myself if I improved.

Since I've started my quest, and, in an odd serendipity, I've read that Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, has postulated that the magic number of hours needed for mastering a particular field is "10,000 hours." He reckons Bill Gates had that much computer time logged when he launched Microsoft and the Beatles had that much playing time together before they conquered America.

I had several thoughts and concerns: would my drawing skills improve? How much? Would there be a breakthrough moment?

During my quest I have tried to do my daily sketches no matter where I have been, so I have sketches done in New York City, Georgia, Wichita, and New Mexico, and also sketches done in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatamala and Peru.

The only significant time I missed sketching was when I had a heart attack, playing Wipeout at a band reunion in Kingman in March of 2008. I missed about five days, but got right back on it, and was soon up to speed again.


I got back an immediate positive response (assuming he still has a job after Thursday). He also asked me if I could illustrate how much I had improved and, although it's hard for me to be objective, here is an example of a study I did at lunchtime today:

This, of course is another take on the Apache Kid running (yes, he's whipping along in the left, middle distance), but this has some very sophisticated effects, especially in the distant cloud shadows on the mountains and in the clouds themselves. Believe me, I never had anything close to these skills at the beginning of the quest. Meanwhile, since I've upped my daily quota to ten, I have left a few boxed-patina gaps (with no sketches in them), and so, lately, I've been going back from time to time to fill in drawings in the patina boxes. Here is a patina wash page from last week:

And here's the quick gesture sketches I added today:

Heina Patina, No. 1:

Did the same thing to a batch of patina washes I did on June 28. Here are the patina washes:

And here are the patina washes with the storm riders I added at lunch today:

Heina Patina No. 2

Not quite sure how to count these. Since I already counted the ten patina boxes as my daily quota, not sure it's fair to count the sketches on top of the boxes. Hmmmmmm. Not inclined to count them, but it is an interesting new phase of the quest, with layers of effort adding tiny gusts of inspiration to almost every page. Now I'm starting to get nervous that it's all going to end. Ha. Typical artist behavior. Reminds me of the old vaquero saying to the effect that happiness is that moment between having too little and having too much. Ha.

Went and got our passport photos taken at Walgreen's at lunchtime ($7 each). Then had a veggie sandwich at the Blue Burger Grille with Kathy ($29, includes tip, house account). Bob and Trish Brink turned us on to this place last week when Ken and Lucinda Amorosano were in town. Very healthy food. Enjoyed it. I've been on my plant diet for eight days now. So far, so good. What do I miss the most? Carne asado tacos, Baby! Oh, and sirloin, and bacon and cheese crisps and key lime pie and chicken fried steak and albondigas soup and tampiquena and the Keg's filet and my grandma's Sunday roast beef. Other than that, I'm perfectly fine.

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas."
—A. Whitney Griswold

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