Little bits // 02

Blue boy, Diana Willard

The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
Little bits // 01

Orange painting, detail, Diana Willard

detail of a current work
Its beauty stirs the imagination, and I wonder if the last refuge of all that is truly wild lies not on earth but in light.
Ellen Meloy

I've been feeling a bit blah about my blog lately (which seems to be a common ailment amongst bloggers recently), so to keep myself feeling creative here, I'll be sharing more of my work (finished and unfinished!), mixed in with a healthy dose of inspiration from elsewhere.

I hope you enjoy!

xo Diana

P.S. I was inspired to start this series by the photography blogs Petal and Plume and Nice and Quiet. Definitely check out their beautiful work!

The Practice Project, Part 2 // DIY Workbook

Workbook perspective drawing

Last week I talked about how I'm tracking my hours spent practicing painting and drawing, with the end goal of reaching 10,000 hours -- at which point, according to Malcolm Gladwell, I'll have mastered that ish.

I thought I'd share one thing that has really helped me focus on the specific drawing skills I wanted to master: creating my own workbook.

This probably goes back to my time as a teacher, but when I realized I had two specific goals for my sketching practice (improving at drawing faces and buildings in perspective), I decided to create a workbook especially for these skills.


MATERIALS: blank notebook or sketchbook, printer and paper, scissors, super pretty washi tape (ok, or any tape)

STEP 1: Decide what types of images you want and gather them up -- you want to collect all your inspiration now, so later on you can focus on practicing. . . not on pinning. :)

You can see some of my images on my Reference Faces and References Places boards. I also used some of my own photographs. If you're more into hand-lettering, you might want to type up some quotes, phrases, or words you'd like to try drawing.

Quick side note: make sure you use these images just for practice, not as reference images in works to be sold, which can become a copyright issue. Just FYI. Also, I'm (for obvious reasons) a big advocate of crediting and/or paying for people's creative work.

Workbook image 1

STEP 2: Print out all your images and cut them out.

I formatted my images really quickly in Powerpoint and used the black-and-white "rush" printer settings to save ink.

Workbook image 3

STEP 3: Tape each image into a left-hand page of your sketchbook. Do them all at once so your workbook is ready to go!

Workbook image 4

STEP 4: One each right-hand page of the sketchbook, practice drawing the facing photo.

If you don't like one drawing, move the photo to the next blank spread in the sketchbook and try again. But keep the original drawing! You may dislike it, but it's seriously rewarding to look back at your older sketches and see how far you've come.

Step 5: Carry it around with you and keep sketching!

This is all about developing a habit of practice, and making it easy to do that practice, and, hopefully, a bit fun!

xo Diana

Creative essentials // Guest post on Pen + Peplum

art supplies

I'm thrilled to be posting on Pen and Peplum today, the lovely blog by letterer and stationary designer Miranti!

I've been so inspired by reading about her journey through career changes, creating her own business, and developing her artistic style.

Miranti is currently taking a much-deserved vacation and I'm so happy to be sharing some of my favorite creative essentials for painting on her blog. You can pop over and check them out here!

xo Diana

The Practice Project // part 1

The Practice Project, DW Draws

Now that I'm my own boss, one of my biggest day-to-day challenges is knowing what to actually work on. Sure, if I have a deadline for a project, I'll work on that, but otherwise. . .

Maybe I should read up on marketing?

Or web design?

Or photography?

How about I just get some of the laundry out of the way?

Not that doing any of those things is necessarily bad (ok, I'm trying hard not to do housework during work hours), but I noticed these types of activities were taking up more and more of my day.

Eventually, I realized I could go an entire day without painting or sketching at all. And that was a problem because it meant I wasn't growing in my real field of choice: art.

The Practice Project, DW Draws

Yes, art is a business, and I want to improve at the business side of things, but what I really want to become great at is painting and drawing.

Which is where my Practice Project comes into play.


I'd previously heard of the 10,000 hour rule from an interview with Malcom Gladwell. Studies have shown that it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can achieve mastery in any complex skill. This goes for anything: from composing music to public speaking to skateboarding to being a doctor.

And so, of course, it also applies to art.

10,000 hours always seemed like an unattainable ideal until I saw this infographic, which broke down the hours a bit better for me.

10 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 20 years

20 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 10 years

40 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 5 years

60 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 3.5 years

I realized that at my current rate of painting, oh, maybe two hours a week, I was headed for mastery around retirement age. Not super ideal.

Mastery tracker 1


So I set a very basic goal for myself: to spend at least 20 hours every week with paintbrush or pencil in hand.

Being the list-oriented person that I am, I decided to track my hours spent painting and drawing.

I felt really motivated to get to mark another hour well-spent and it was incredibly satisfying to see how quickly I started increasing my practice time.

Within three weeks, I'd more than quadrupled my time spent. (Note: it didn't take a lot. The first week I painted exactly zero hours and sketched for two.)

The Practice Project, DW Draws

I wasn't sure how interested other people might be in tracking time spent practicing different skills -- I'm also tracking my yoga and Hindi practice for fun -- but I thought I'd include the worksheet I used for the first month. You can download my Practice Project tracker here!

I'd love to hear what types of skills each of you is working on mastering. How are you going about developing your skill? What ways of practicing or learning have worked best for you?

xo Diana

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