August 03, 2018

Learning A New Skill (A completed goal from my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list)

Like a I mentioned a few days ago, I checked off another goal from my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list. The goal was pretty vague--"Learn a new skill"--so it could be pretty much anything. And I certainly didn't have to master it.

Jerry and I were going through a box of old stuff recently, and I came across some of my papers from art class in high school. The idea of drawing/sketching popped into my head as a fun skill to learn. I've always been a terrible artist, so my attempt would be interesting, if nothing else ;)

When I bought the journals for my recent 8-week challenge, I also picked up the essentials on how to draw: a sketch pad, pencils, and a "How to Draw" book. Can't get any more basic than that!

Although, I have to say, I had no idea how many different types of pencils there are. Or how expensive they can be! As a kid, whenever our teachers' list of supplies was mailed out each summer, it always included "No. 2 pencils". I always found that odd, because a pencil is a pencil, right? What other kinds were there?

Well, just from a quick glance at Hobby Lobby, I saw there are LOTS of different kinds of pencils! There was one small set for $35, and there was no way that I was willing to spend that kind of money. I ended up getting a cheaper set (I think it was $11) and I used a 40% off coupon, so it wasn't too bad.

Jerry was with me, and he used a 40% off coupon on the book, too! (Here are the Amazon links to the book and pencils I bought--but they aren't anything special! Drawing Cats & Kittens book and  Kimberly pencils.)

When I first got out the supplies to start this new hobby, I was a little overwhelmed. Looking at the steps in the book, I thought, "There is no WAY I'm going to be able to do that!" The blending and shading and making everything look so REAL was unbelievable. I just hoped that my cat drawing would pass for a cat, hahaha.

I think the hardest part about drawing this cat was trying to get the correct proportions. The books suggests using a graph or tracing paper, but I didn't have those things and I just decided to eyeball it. So I looked at the sketches in the book and tried to measure things by "Okay, the nose starts at about the same vertical line that the ear ends" and "there is about one nose length between this and that..." etc.

Needless to say, my proportions aren't perfect, but I wasn't exactly expecting perfection from this "new skill" I was trying to learn.

I also learned that I needed to get a much better eraser. I have no idea how you can get an eraser small enough to do whiskers or hair (it would literally have to be the size of a sharpened pencil tip!) so I made do with what I had: I used scissors to cut a small eraser into the finest point I could manage.

I also didn't have a blending tool, because I figured I could just use my fingers. My fingers worked really well, except for when I needed to blend small areas--then I realized why it would be helpful to have a small blending tool as well. But again, I made do.

So, here are the progress photos as I moved along...

And the finished drawing:

Notice that I chose the name "Janice" for the tag? Had to keep with the "Friends" theme! ;)

I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed with myself! I'm not an artist, and have never really even thought it a possibility, but I don't think it looks half-bad. Of course, I nit-pick the little mistakes or things I could have done better, but overall, I think it looks pretty good.

And best of all, I really enjoyed doing it! So, not only am I learning a new skill, I'm picking up a new (cheap!) hobby. One that doesn't take up much space, either. (When I was really into knitting and crocheting, I had a yarn stash that took up way too much space!)

Speaking of knitting and crocheting, two goals on my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list are "Knit Something" and "Crochet Something". Again, very vague, but I figured it would be good to work on a project.

I actually checked off "crochet something" a few days ago. My friend Emily mentioned that she'd seen that people have made Swiffer covers that are reusable so that they don't have to buy the little sheets that you use for dusting. She thought it was a cool idea. And I thought it would be fun to make one for her.

I looked up a pattern on Ravelry, and chose this one. I used purple and teal, and the whole project was pretty fast--I finished it in a couple of hours. I tried it on my Swiffer, and thankfully, it fit perfectly!

I don't know how well it works at collecting dust, because it would be pretty gross to use it and then gift it to Emily, haha. But I think I'm going to make one for myself as well.

It's feels good to do some crafty things lately! And it definitely helps me to keep my hands away from food ;)


  1. I love your drawing and I'm not even a cat person! You did such a good job. I always think that drawing is just 'free-styling' and if I can't do that, then I can't draw. That Swiffer cover is great too! You're right, doing crafty things keeps our hands off food, but more importantly I think it distracts from all of those anxious thoughts. Maybe you could just make some winter scarves and donate them to a charity?? It would use up some of your yarn for a good cause! Keep up the good work! PS...isn't Jerry a good artist? I seem to remember you posting some cute things that he's drawn. Are you kids artistic?

  2. As a total non-artist (too much engineer brain, not enough creative brain), I am super impressed with both your cat and your swiffer cover. Love them!

  3. Wow. Well done on your cat. She looks great! Fun swiffer idea too.

  4. Your cat is so beautiful! As always, you are an inspiration.

  5. Great drawing! You did an awesome job! Fur is hard to draw for me. I also recommend “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. It really helps a lot. We used it in college in a basic design class. And just like anything, the more you practice the better you get :) I love to draw to relax and unwind.

  6. That drawing looks like it's done by a professional!

  7. Your drawing is amazing looking!!!!! Good job!

  8. Wow, that cat looks amazing! And the your crochet project is too cute!

  9. Your drawing looks amazing! So professional! And I love the name :) Great job on the swiffer pad too. I've always wanted to learn how to crochet. I think I just need to sit down and watch some videos on it. I don't know anyone who can teach me!


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