100 Days of Blind Contour Drawings

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Last year around this time, I participated in The Great Discontent's 100 Day Project over on Instagram. Not only was the project was challenging and super fun - it connected me to a bunch of new amazing artists, and introduced a new sense of discipline to my art practice. (I wrote more about that experience here.)

Now that I'm back to freelancing full time again, I've been craving this structure again. Creating artwork for others is fulfilling in its own way, but sometimes can leave you scratching your head for things to create on your own time. Three days in to this project, I've already found this second round of the 100 Day Project to be a tiny sliver of salvation in a hectic day.

This time around, I'm doing 100 days of blind contour drawings. I've been thinking a lot about how we as artists present ourselves to the public. Social media has proven to be a great new way to connect artists with their audience, but it has also encouraged a very cleaned up, beautiful and "perfect" glimpse of what it's really like to be a working artist. We post only our best work, leaving behind all of the crappy sketches it took us to get to that point. 

I'll admit I was a little nervous choosing blind contour drawings for this next round of the 100 Day Project. By its very nature, blind contour drawings are very raw, imperfect and weird. That is exactly what I love about them, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry that it might make others question my validity as an artist. Would people get what I was trying to do? Would they think I was a total sham, completely untalented?

Although it made me nervous, this was the very reason I decided to do it despite my doubts. My hope is that it will contribute to a new direction in social media, where we show the more raw parts of our process, the parts the make us question ourselves and our talents. All (or at least some) of the failed attempts, or unpretty things it takes to really be a working artist.

How do you feel about this idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Changing Up the Process

paper cut process bryna shields

Happy Monday friends! Things have been crazy over here as I finalize plans for my big move, but I am still carving out pockets here and there for artworking when I can. I start to feel a little incomplete if I go too long without some sort of creative activity.

For a while now I have been looking to rejuvenate my creative process. Most of my illustration work starts out hand drawn and then the rest ends up on the computer, which can be lengthy. While I don't hate it, I would also like to incorporate more analog time into my work where i can. It is so refreshing to add something unfamiliar to your routine - I've found it opens the door for new possibilities and happy accidents. So, the other night I started playing with papercuts, and it was just the change I was seeking. I hadn't anticipated there would be as much potential in the scraps as there was in the planned parts. It has been a great boost, and I can't wait to play more.

Have you tried anything new in your creative process recently? I'd love to hear!

Paper cut process 2.jpg

Kitties in a Rocketship!

Howdy friends! I've been working on a little personal piece, and thought I'd share some of the progress so far. These babies will eventually be sent out as postcards.

What are you working on? Leave a comment and let me know!

Hope you have a happy weekend!

Vignettes: Belly Laughing

The other night I was washing dishes, scraping dried nacho cheese off of a plate after a day of snacking and laying around with my closest friends. In the other room my friends were vacillating between giggles and belly laughs, filling my tiny studio apartment with their sound. My heart swelled with gratitude and happiness for this little moment; it feels full and rich. I savor the immense joy in these little moments, and I fight the urge to try to hold onto it. They're leaving in the morning, and my apartment will go back to being a quiet dwelling. It's such a simple pleasure, hearing the people you love laughing. It's one of my favorite things in the whole world. Although this moment is fleeting, there is comfort in knowing these moments can and will happen again.

2014 Experiments


I am a firm believer that experimentation leads to great things, particularly when it comes to creative endeavors. This year, among other things, I plan on getting back into collage - the endless potential in found images is exciting. I love the idea of creating new connections from completely unrelated media. When I look at others' collage work, it is always so fascinating to see what wild images people create. The possibility for new worlds, characters, landscapes, they can transport us into gorgeous unfamiliarity.

Let's Do This

This has been my motto these days. I fully believe in jumping into everything with enthusiasm and a full heart. P.S. Here is the (very) loose sketch I based this off of, in case you're curious.

2013 Wishes

So I know I said I wasn't planning on making any resolutions, but I did want to set some tangible goals. There's a few more that aren't included in this sketch, including boring things like pay off my credit card bills and be more organized for tax season. I'm excited to see what 2013 holds in store but the fact is, there's a delicate balance between wanting more from your life and appreciating what's already there and wonderful. And while we must have goals to propel us forward, perhaps we lose sight of the bigger picture in the process. Why do we wait for a new year to finally pursue the things we want to accomplish? Every day is a new year, even if there's only one day we actually celebrate it. So in the midst of setting and achieving new goals, let's also remember to love what's right in front of us.

Adventures in Lettering

I've been trying to get into the habit of sketching more. Starting off with 10 minutes a day (it's amazing what you can do in such a short time!). Here's a peek into my adventures in lettering - something that never ceases to fascinate me. It's a skill I'd like to expand upon.