Drawing Connections: The Year of Flight and Focus

published5 months ago
6 min read

Drawing Connections

"The Year of Flight and Focus"
Vol. 1, No. 2, February 2021

Hi Friend:

I hope you are keeping well. Here in Ottawa, Canada, the days are getting longer, the sun is certainly warmer, and our thoughts move to the gardens and the backyard pond.


Stories Behind the Art

Yearly themes

How's 2021 going? Do you feel you are on track, running behind or lost?

I started last year with clear ideas and plans, but things got derailed by the pandemic. However, there was something else. I didn’t have a theme for the year.

The idea of a theme is to establish an overarching element that can help move your decisions forward and direct your energy to ongoing success and a sense of accomplishment.

I started taking my art seriously in 2018 and decided I needed do something significant in 2019. I wanted to figure out a way to remain focused on my side-hustle/passion while still working a full-time job and keeping up with my other commitments. A theme can help generate meaningful projects and guidance and provide a glue that helps reach positive results vs. resolutions that typically fizzle out within a couple of weeks or months.

I created my first theme for 2019, and it was “emergence”. The theme was inspired by the metamorphosis that caterpillars go through in shedding their previous identity and accepting their new destiny as a butterfly. For me it was art and finally acknowledging and accepting my role as an artist and the joy it brought me. In 2019, I created so much art, posted it online, started a podcast and interacted with so many other creatives. It was a tremendously successful year. However, while riding the wave of success at the end of year, I failed to reflect, look ahead and ensure I was still on course. So 2020 was a challenge for many reasons, but not having a theme was part of it.

For me, 2021 is year of “Flight and Focus”. Building on the previous theme of emergence, it is time to leave the security of the past and take a leap. Opening my online store was the first step and I have a few other things planned throughout the year as I continue to developing my art skills, sharing what I make and what I learn, and inspiring others. I added the idea of focus because taking a leap is certainly better when you have place to go.

Have you considered using a theme or do you have another approach to reflecting on what has been and what could be? It's never too late to consider a theme. Maybe think about creating one and write it down somewhere. Even that small step may have a meaningful impact!

Inside The Toolbox

Mechanical Pencils

I have used many different types of pencils to create the drawings and sketches I’ve done over the years. I've played with wooden pencils, clutch pencils (2 mm drafting pencils), and smaller mechanical pencils. The big advantage with any mechanical pencil is that the weight remains largely unchanged and the length doesn't vary with usage. Also, you can vary the lead hardness by loading it up with your lead of choice. My preferred lead for most every piece is now 2B which provides for a light touch and shading and allows for dark values when needed.

I switched to smaller mechanical pencils a couple of years ago because I didn't need to carry around a sharpener. This made sense in the "before times" when I would want a small drawing kit to carry with me into a coffee shop, library or the cafeteria at work.

Right now, my drawing tool of choice is a Pentel GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil in the .3 mm size. Pentel make wonderful mechanical pencils and they come in sizes from .3 mm up to .9 mm. My preference for the detail I do right now is .3 mm.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 in .3 mm

The GraphGear 1000 is one of a few mechanical pencils that allows you to retract the lead and tip completely. The tip of a .3 mm mechanical pencil is quite sensitive to damage and any bend of the tip can impact the ability of the lead to move in and out. So, the ability to retract it completely is fantastic!

Pentel GraphGear 1000 extended and full retracted

This pencil has a wonderful weight for me. The balance is perfect and the rubberized grip is a welcome addition.

The GraphGear 1000 also as an indicator on the barrel to reflect the lead in use. However, I wrap a piece of washi tape around the barrel with purple for 2B, yellow for 2H, and green for HB. Yes, I have more than one of these pencils.

Another model of mechanical pencil from Pentel is the Nero Orenz. It is a beautiful pencil, but I find it a bit too light for my taste. Same is true for the GraphGear 300 (but they do come in wonderful colors).

Pentel Nero Orenz .3 is appealing in black and also a retractable tip

Regardless of whether you draw or sketch, the Pentel GraphGear 1000 is a wonderful pencil. If you are using it for general use, consider maybe the .5 mm and HB or 2B lead.

Recent Drawing Inspiration Episodes

Here are a couple of the most recent “Drawing Inspiration” podcast episodes. The podcast is available wherever you listen to music.

46: Space Jellyfish, Journaling and the Value of Mentors with Artist Kina Forney

Kina Forney joined me to talk about her creative journey and how a fine arts degree with a focus on computation arts helps to shape her early work. Kina talks about her incredible jellyfish and nebula work and why the canvas you need to paint on maybe be right in front of you or above your head. She shared her thoughts about journaling and creating her own journal using Kickstarter. We also talk about mentorship, understanding what you are leaving behind, the importance of self-care, and remembering just to be yourself.

47: Daily Doodles, TikTok, and Patreon with Artist Myriam Tillson

Myriam Tillson makes a return to the podcast to talk about her daily doodle exercise. We then take a deep dive on a few of her pieces to explore the impact they have had on her and others. Myriam talks about a recent post on TikTok and why she will be doing more of them. We also discuss her YouTube channel and the impact Patreon has had on her career and creative well-being.

Have you listened to the podcast? Are you enjoying it? If so, you can support it through Patreon. Your financial support goes directly to the costs associated with recording, hosting, and running the show. I also have some great benefits through all three tiers. You can also support the show by leaving a review within your podcast player as well as sharing the podcast with others.


What I'm Watching

I am nearly done Season 2 of the Abstract series on Netflix. What a wonderful exploration of creativity around the world. The series explores the world of traditional artists, architects, and others in a way that inspires me to try and do more. Seeing the wonderful art installations by Olafur Eliasson blew me away. I was also impressed with Neri Oxman and the connection between design and natural materials.

The Bookshelf

"Find Your Artistic Voice" with Lisa Congdon is a book that greatly impacted me in embracing my current style. I had Lisa Congdon on the podcast back in March of 2020 (Episode 22), and we spoke about her book and her creative journey. Lisa has a similar journey to mine in coming to art later in life. She has inspired so many with her art and her words. This book is a must for the artist in your life. She has a new book coming out in March called "You Will Leave a Trail of Stars: Words of Inspiration for Blazing Your Own Path".You can find more information about her books and her art on her web site.

Upcoming Live Events

I have reconfigured my office/studio to accommodate more live draw sessions. If you follow me on Instagram, I will be doing more live drawing sessions through March. Stay tuned for a special live draw with physicist and photographer Dr. Christian Sasse where we will talk about bald eagles as I draw one in realtime. Keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for further details. #sciart

Online shop and current discount code

I have added some new pieces to my online store including this puffin based John Bishop's photo.

Visit the my shop at shop.mikehendley.com and
use the code MARCHPRINTS for a 15% discount on any order.

Discount code valid until March 31, 2021

Stay safe, take care and keep drawing.


Vol. 1, No. 2, February 2021

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