Successful authors always say the way to improve your writing is to write. I'm not sure I agree: I think that you could still be useless at writing if you wrote every day (then again I'm not a successful author).
Drawing is different.
If you draw every day, from life (NOT a photo), you will improve your drawing no end. It's something I sort of knew for years but it's actually worked for me...I used to be a bit hit-and-miss with drawing, or need to look at loads of references to get figures right, but I don't anymore. It's bloody useful as I can work very fast now.
If you want to improve your drawing skills, then this is for you. Feel free to comment away if there's anything I can add to be a bit more helpful.
Basically the message is this: drawing sock creatures is a perfect way to improve your drawing skills. They are colourful, which is fun; they aren't too fiddly, as you had to sew them in the first place so they are likely to be quite roundy; they are cute, which means the finished result is nice to look at; and they are smallish, which means they can be propped anywhere to be drawn.
The only drawback is that no one will want to buy drawings of YOUR homemade sock creatures...so it really is an indulgence.
I always use the same materials when I draw sock creatures. They are as follows:
- Brown envelope (the inside)
- Gouache paints
- Waterproof fine liners sizes 0.8 and 0.3mm
- Pencil (2B is good)
- White gel pen
- Brushes size 4 and 8 (wriggle room here depending on preferences)
- Roughly draw the sock creature in pencil - softly - NO HARD LINES
- Go over your lines with an 0.8mm pen on the outside, use the finer one for finer lines
- Draw whatever patterns are on the sock in pencil
- Go over them in a fine liner
- Rub out pencil lines - if you want - they won't show up much, especially under paint
- Mix your colours using gouache
- Paint the coloured bits - leave white till last
- Go around any fiddly bits with opaque pen
- Fill in the large areas with white gouache
There you go!
You can substitute other things for sock creatures but they all come with problems. Marionettes: how will you hang them to draw them? Flowers: how do you stop them wilting? Other folks' cuddly toys: not as cute as sock creatures! Interiors: nice but you have to tidy the room first; Landscapes: cold to be out there and too distant when you're inside; Portraits: sitter often gets restless...
So you see, you really can't beat sock creatures for life models...