Away from the Drawing Board

Because drawing isn't everything

6/24/20245 min read

I remember being in my Drawing II studio class on the first day. Our instructor was going over the syllabus and pointed out that part of the learning process in art and drawing requires doing something other than drawing. He said, get a hobby. Learn an instrument, read books, exercise, or do whatever. I didn't really give it much thought then because I felt like I was always a hobbyist. I played instruments, worked out, read books, played video games, and went outside. If anything, I wasn't very good at focusing on drawing - the thing I was there to get better at.

9 years later, I look back on that and reconsider the value of my "hobbies." Playing D&D, cooking (like legit cooking), even taking on different crafts. The breaks from drawing grant me access to a different headspace. I often make comics about running and how that movement practice helps me get out of a rut or process emotions. I have daily and weekly routines that hardly involve my main creative practice, but the activities are helping my creativity. Maybe I'm wrong, but staring intensely at a piece of paper I'm trying to draw for hours on end isn't going to be successful if I'm feeling fatigued or insane, wondering why the hell I'm making comics in the first place. Visual art is an isolating practice, but the sensory experiences of making it require you to put blinders on and hide your peripheral vision. You literally have to step back from a piece to see it as a whole, you have to give your eyes a rest.

How does one do something else? Well, much like drawing, they are built-up routines. To have a routine requires doing something regularly. I'm kind of a monster without my routines. I have to have time in my day for a little stretch and a little exercise; I cook a meal at home almost every night, and I gotta have my time sitting on the couch with my partner in the morning, sipping coffee slowly and enjoying the quiet moment. Unless I'm on vacation, I need to have time around my 40-hour work week for the routine things that make me feel content.

Some might pose the question, but if you're not drawing how are you going to get good? Building up an art practice does require a long time and a lot of hours. The more you do it, the better you get over time, but that has very little to do with grinding super hard at it every hour of every day. I've noticed in my art that the better I get, the faster I am. Much like with running, I'm not always fast, but I have built up a certain level of endurance that I can perform in a way that is satisfactory to me, even if my time is a little slower than my personal best. The same principle applies to drawing and art. You do need to spend time learning and growing your hard skills, but you always need to take breaks.

Ain't no shame in spending your wee precious hours of the day doing something else, I think what matters is that you allow yourself time and space to enjoy whatever it is you're doing. If I'm breaking my hand over a page, I'm probably not having a good time. But, to each their own, I suppose.

Anyway, I'm going to talk about one of my hobbies because enough people have asked me about it and that I've lived on a plant-based diet for 10 years now, and what I've learned over that time is that the food I make at home is way better than most things I could acquire at a restaurant. Now, there are way better vegan and allergen-friendly options out there now, fancier restaurants, etc. But, I've been seriously cooking longer than I've been practicing art, so I like to think I'm pretty good at it. I love spending time finding recipes, sourcing ingredients, and trying things out. Much like with art, there are hard skills in cooking you have to learn if you want to get things done faster, better, etc. You build up an understanding of cooking techniques and a sense of timing and learn how things taste under certain temperatures and with acids versus bases and salts.

So, here are some of my favorite food blogs in order of best to equally good, but I put a lot of praise on Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe books as pictured below:

Fake Meat is for serious vegan baddies who want to take on the challenge of making their own plant-based meat substitutes. The Veganomicon is the perfect book for anyone who wants to make a delicious veggie meal. There's great instruction on cooking techniques, how to stock a pantry, and what's good and good for you. Moskowitz also has a website with free recipes to access: The Post Punk Kitchen.

Here are some other good blogs. They're mostly vegan, so that's all you're gonna get from me.

My recommendation for making cooking a fun habit? Throw on a podcast or an album, and vibe the fuck out. On Monday, I catch up on My Brother, My Brother, and Me. Ologies is a good one. If you're doing a long prep, This American Life is great, or if you're a fucking nerd like me, I'll go through a few episodes of Not Another D&D Podcast. Usually, I listen to WFMU for the rest of the week.

You don't necessarily have to know how to cook to make food. You do have to do it several times to make great food, but following a recipe isn't hard. Take it step-by-step. Borrow a cookbook from the library. I think cooking is one of the better hobbies an artist can have because it's both a physical task and a creative one that doesn't involve the envy of your peers. If your dish doesn't turn out 100% Instagram-worthy, it's probably still tasty and nourishing for your body, and that's what matters most.

Latest listens:

  • New Mannequin Pussy album

  • That latest Osees single, obviously

  • New album by PLEASANTS

  • Gonerfest 21 Playlist

  • HOT SEAT, a dope Philly band

  • Alex Graham's playlist for The Devil's Grin