Drawing drills.


Hi friends, I still need to post up something about my recent Iceland trip (which I forgot to let you know about! I went to Iceland! The photo above is of Haystack, a little needle-felted friend who came with me for the journey) but since I got back there’s been a lot on my mind about art practice, and I’ve been trying to think of how we make and especially when you make art for a living there’s some weird things you have to navigate as you get deeper into it. Such as making work for yourself versus for a client and letting it not ‘be’ for anything but for making it, learning when and where you need to switch things up to keep it stimulating for yourself, how to go back and shake yourself out of the bad habits you’ve built up over years, how to keep patient when you just want to move onto the next thing, how to stoke excitement when art feels like work, and the like.

I’ve been doing some sleuthing online and a lot of the advice given is geared towards beginners and is a little more technically dry than I’d like. But I do think there’s some good things to mine from it; lately I’ve been trying to think of art practice like a sport or like exercise— you build up skills like muscles as you create work, but sometimes you let other muscles work to cover up weaknesses and get lazy. So drills and exercises (something I think we often think are boring/simple or for beginners) are useful to help break those habits and become a little more well rounded, as well as help you regain some excitement when things feel routine, or feel more patient when you’re hitting a wall.

I solicited responses on Twitter last night and got a good slew of ideas to practice no matter what stage you’re in! I wanted to share them with you (if you have others feel free to message me and I’ll add to this list!)

  • completing a sketchbook where you work with ink or paint only- no pencil underdrawings!
  • thumbnails of existing compositions/movie stills/etc to gain better color/tonal/composition sense.
  • do warmup paintings in a found or altered book- working with type on a page gives you a compositional challenge, but is also less intimidating than a blank page.
  • do morning warm up drawings, such as doing a small lettering warm-up.
  • figure drawing sessions or drawing at a coffeeshop/public space.
  • make a list of the things you get specific about and make them iconic and simpler. Make a list of things you use visual shorthand for (a t-shirt, car, bar of soap) and get specific.
  • create a list of words/phrases and randomly pull from them, then illustrate something fusing those ideas. (magnetic poetry style!)
  • do 100 20-minute sketches from life.
  • draw with kids to find spontaneity and focus— learn from their fearlessness!
  • also, have kids as art directors giving you assignments.
  • take bad, rejected, or old sketches and spend time to fix them into a finished piece.
  • take something you’ve made/designed and translate it into the spirit of another style/time period/art movement/voice. Or try and draw it from a different perspective or viewpoint, or try and draw what happened before or after it, or draw the opposite of it.
  • give yourself an alter-ego with a totally different visual voice, and try and create work for them.
  • create a project with parameters and a goal to explore, and a set end date and accomplish it.
  • if you draw fast, try to redraw it really slower and slower, find places to add specificity. Or redraw with your eyes closed. If you draw really complicatedly and slowly, find ways to redraw quicker and simpler but still keeping the essence of the subject.
  • blind contour drawings are really great to practice seeing without assuming. Drawing upside down, working with continuous line, or drawing negative spaces of things is also a good way to think differently.
  • sitting with another person who draws, draw the same thing with your eyes closed.
  • stream of consciousness drawing.
  • change scale, draw standing up (or bonus, draw with your pencil on a dowel 3 feet away from the paper).
  • draw something you feel very comfortable drawing. Then consider how an alien would consider that thing and what it wouldn’t know about it. Is there a way to convey more personality/information into that drawing?
  • try and draw things without line.
  • try and translate your drawing into a 3D medium and then redraw it after making it.
  • the biggest thing is though: build time to practice, and DON’T TALK YOURSELF OUT OF DOING A DRILL. Think of it like a musician practicing their scales and don’t worry that it’s just for you. Sow those seeds and reap ‘em later!
Whew, I gotta stop writing books instead of blog posts, but hope you find it useful! I may need to compile a pdf sometime…

Hey Guys! Usually I hate Sundays, but it’s kind of hard to hate today honestly when it’s this gorgeous out. 

I have been getting a bunch of messages from people who have lost some weight, and are now frustrated because they are dealing with the dreaded plateau. 

Maybe some of you have experienced this: You’re tracking calories, working out consistently and the weight is coming off. The one day: The scale just. won’t. budge.  Sometimes this can go on for days, a week, or even a few weeks. Now what?! 

Even though it’s completely normal for a weight loss plateau to happen, it can often send a dieter off track….and into a box of cookies. I’ve been there, trust me. I would think, “If I’m being so good and it’s just not working I might as well say screw it!” But what I have learned is: you CAN be strong and start getting back on track again. Try at least one of the following tips, and I’m sure you’ll be back on track in no time. 

Here are five important things to know about hydration and exercise:

1. Don’t eat the same amount of calories every day.

In theory, you’ve got to eat less to lose more, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you just have to change it up.  Here’s one way to do it: If your average daily intake is 1,600 calories, try dropping to 1,400 one day, going up to 1,800 the next day, and then dropping back to 1,400. The idea is to keep your metabolism guessing. There’s no magic number that works for everyone, so you need to experiment and see what works for you and your body. Please note: On the other side of the spectrum of giving up when you hit a plateau is going to unhealthy measures to get the results you want. Don’t restrict your calories because you are just desperate to get over that hump. DO NOT DO THIS. Eating too little can mess up your metabolism, mess up your body, and completely just mess up your emotional relationship with food. 

According to Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards, what happens when you zigzag is that you force your body to choose how many calories it needs to recover from the rigors of your exercise program. “Most people who hit a plateau are undereating. If you are indeed undereating, adding calories for a few days, then lowering them again, will help you force your body into a hormonal response that will not only help you break out of a plateau, but—as you learn to recognize the signals—will teach you how much food you should be eating.”

2. Change up your fitness routine.

If you do the same workout each day, it will become less and less challenging and as a result, less effective. If you push yourself to new levels of strength or exhaustion, you’ll definitely see results. Here are some ways you can challenge yourself:

- Swap your jog for a bike ride.

- Try weights with your cardio routine. 

- Add intervals of high intensity to really make you sweat. 

- Drop to the floor for 10 push-ups right now!

The idea is to put your body through something different. According to Edwards, “The better you get at something, the easier it becomes. That’s why we’re always telling you to add more weight as you get stronger, and to move faster and jump higher as our programs progress. But it’s also why all of our programs have phases of training. As your body adapts to stimulus, you need to change that stimulus in order to keep results happening.”

3. Eat some almonds.

Almonds are one of my favorite snacks. I have some every day on my train ride home from work (with some dark chocolate chips..shhh). Plus there’s actually some research that indicates that they can help you burn fat. That’s because they contain fiber and fatty acids—the good kind of fat that helps you lose weight. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared two groups of people who ate a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet. As part of their daily diet, one group ate 3 ounces of almonds every day. The other group ate a mix of complex carbs. What happened? The group that ate the almonds lost more weight.

So next time you go for a snack, try a small handful of almonds! If not almonds, any nut would work (not peanuts, they are legumes). 

4. Get more sleep.

It is also possible that you could be training too hard which can lead to a plateau. An over-trained body holds on to weight as if it were starving. There’s no better way to see if this is what is causing your plateau, than to sleep more. In Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solutionhe recommends 9 hours of sleep! I know that this is near impossible for most people, but seriously, do it WHENEVER you can. Also, try to sleep in a pitch black room (hard for me because I’m terrified of the dark). If there is light coming from any source, it can effect your sleep. The reason sleep is so important, is that your body recovers much more quickly from exercise when you are asleep.

In a study at the University of Chicago Medical School, they found that during a period when the participants were deprived of sleep, they metabolized glucose less effectively. They also had higher levels of cortisol, which has been shown to impair memory, increase insulin resistance, and slow recovery in athletes. 

5. Relax.

Believe it or not, stress can TOTALLY make you plateau. When you’re stressed, your body sends out higher levels of cortisol that can cause your body to hang on to fat. “Cortisol is actually a performance-enhancing hormone,” says Edwards. “But it’s gotten a bad rap because we’ve begun living our lives at too high a volume. Cortisol is released at times when the body is in an emergency state. It increases performance, but only over a short period of time. When cortisol is released and forced into action at regular intervals, it causes your body to wear down and switch to more drastic means of survival, like holding on to excess amounts of body fat. Your life shouldn’t feel like one big emergency. As a society, we need to learn to be more tranquilo, as the Spanish say.”

We get stressed for many reasons, but it is usually caused by what is going on around us.  One of the best ways to combat stress is to spend some time alone. If you’re the type who can’t let go, try some relaxation techniques like yoga. I often listen to a guided meditation on my way to or from work. You can download apps on your smart phone that have this. 

If you feel you need a lot of help, dig into an intense workout program. If you’re not into yoga, then consider at least adding some stretching into your schedule. Turbo Fire (the program I’m currently doing) comes with two stretching dvds. It’s really important. 

I hope this helps you!!!

XOXO, Sami

So what is the plateau? 

  • The plateau is the point in your fitness journey where you’re working out and your results are starting to slow down and this can be the point in your journey where you start to lose motivation, it’s natural for you to feel like that, but you can do this! 

So what can you do to help get yourself back on your journey? 

  1. Change -  Change is so important in your fitness journey. If you’re doing the same workouts over and over again, your body is starting to get used to it and you’re working out the same muscles over and over again. Try something new, do something different, challenge yourself a bit.  There are lots of different workouts on my blog workoutworkitgirl
  2. Try HIIT workouts - These work outs are brilliant, they are short but intense workouts and can give some good results as they make your body work hard! Click here for HIIT workouts
  3. Don’t give up - Now I know that is easier said than done, because you’re feeling like you’re not getting anywhere and you start to think, oh I’m never going to lose weight, you will, you will get there but giving up isn’t the answer for you. 
  4. Do different types of cardio workouts - If you’re doing the same cardio (for example running) then like I said earlier, you’re working out the same muscles every time, instead swap it around a little bit, so run one week and then do things like cycling the next. Click here for cardio tips
  5. Try different foods - This can really help as your body starts to get used to the foods you’re eating so change it up a little bit, maybe try to get your protein from a different source, instead of having chicken and getting your protein that way, maybe try to have some salmon or tuna or kidney beans! 
  6. Start strength training - Using weights can really help you to build muscle but also gives your metabolism a boost, it’s a win win situation! Click here for tips for lifting
  7. Don’t become obsessed with losing weight - This is a tough one because when you want something so badly you tend to focus on the long term goals of your journey. So instead try to make smaller goals for yourself, for example, when you get up in the morning, say to yourself, I’m going to aim for 30 minutes of cardio (your choice) and then have a lovely post workout meal (click here for good post workout meals)
  8. Remind yourself of how important rest days are - Your body is incredible, it needs a chance to rest and repair the muscles you’ve been working out. If you push your body too much it can lead to injury, so please rest, it will not effect your progress! Click here for understanding when it’s best to rest.
  9. Get more sleep - Making sure that you’re getting enough sleep is vital in your fitness journey, so make sure that you’re getting a minimum of around 7 hours sleep. Why is sleep important? Well if you don’t get enough you’re more likely to have what might be classed as unhealthy cravings (everything in moderation) you are likely to have higher anxiety levels, you’re at higher risk of things like depressions, heart disease, diabetes, injury and also hypertension. 
  10. Understand what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is - This is really important simply because you are then able to see how many calories you would burn if you just stayed in bed all day (sounds like bliss to me - anyway back to reality) do not eat less than your BMR, this is the number of calories your body will need to function normally. Understanding calories calories is important, click here for info on calories. 
  11. Drink more water - Your water bottle should be your best friend, water flushes out toxins from your body, hydrates you. Often when we feel hungry it can actually mean we are thirsty. 
  12. Eat metabolism boosting foods - Adding into your meals things like water, chilli peppers, green tea, coffee, red beans, garlic, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli  whole grains and lentils are all foods that can boost your metabolism naturally! 
  13. DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST - If you think oh I’ll be okay and go without breakfast, no no no no no, stop right there, breakfast is so important, by eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism to start a new day, don’t skip it, or any meal for that matter. 

I believe in you!

Lots of love

Amie workoutworkitgirl xxxx

Easter Highlands Province of Papua New Guninea

A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century. Legend has it that the Mudmen were forced to flee from an enemy into the Asaro River where they waited until dusk to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. The Asaro still apply mud and masks to keep the illusion alive and terrify other tribes.

The mudmen could not cover their faces with mud because the
people of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro
river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with this alleged
poison, they made masks from pebbles that they heated and water
from the waterfall, with unusual designs such as long or very short
ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top,
long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and
sideways mouths.