When I was first learning to draw back in 2015, I read an article about a drawing class where the students spent 20 weeks working on a nose. I’m assuming that each class lasted for at least an hour, so that’s a lot of time for a nose… or for anything else, really. The link to that old article — Drawing a Nose in 20 Weeks, Really?! — is now defunct so I won’t be able to share it with you.
I was aghast when I first read it, of course. I couldn’t imagine spending all that time on a single drawing. I’m not a patient person by nature, you see. Art has helped me become a bit more patient, and now and then I’ve actually come to appreciate the opportunity to work slowly on a drawing, at times even slipping into an almost zen-like state.
So, now, today, I present to you the 8-hour bee. Yes, 8 hours. An entire, full day’s work, although, of course, the bee wasn’t drawn and completed in a single day, rather it was — like that infamous nose — spread out over a course of weeks.
Recently I’ve mentioned a colored pencil project I was working on. This was it. This bee was done with those gorgeous Prismacolor Premier pencils that first got me started on my artistic journey.
I daresay that when I began drawing in June 2015, five years ago, I would never have thought it possible for me to draw something as complicated as a bee, complete with wings. Now, I look at this bee and think it should be better. I did make a few mistakes. Here’s the actual photo reference used for the class.
As usual I have the body proportions a bit off, and I was never able to get the left wing right, despite drawing and erasing it several times.
Still, I drew this bee completely free-hand. No tracing paper. No grid. No light box or other device as I so often see advertised these days. I drew this bee, so despite it’s slightly out-of-proportion body, I’m proud to claim this as my own.
The project was from the most recent Live Lessons series at The Virtual Instructor.
In addition to the 8 hour-long sessions, we were required at two points to complete a bit of “homework” — finishing an area in between classes –so the total time on the project was maybe a bit more than eight hours.
I did very little during the final session, however. We were supposed to be adding a cast shadow beneath the bee. I tried, didn’t like the result, erased it all as best I could, tried again with a very light shadow, and still wasn’t happy. In the end, I decided I was pleased enough with simply having drawn the bee — misshapen body or not — so I opted to leave out the darker shadow area.
For me, this project was a good example of pushing myself. When I first saw the reference photo for the assignment, I shook my head. Had the instructor finally lost his mind completely? He couldn’t seriously expect me to draw something like this, could he? But, yes, of course. I was expected to draw it, and he would show me and my fellow students how to do it.
So, I grabbed my sketch book, picked up a pencil, took a good look at the reference photo, and off I went, drawing something that definitely resembled a bee. Not a good bee, but still most definitely a bee.
I really didn’t believe I could do this project. I expected to have a comical-looking bee that would evoke lots of laughter when viewed — and, who knows! Maybe you are laughing at my bee, but I’ve had a lot of positive comments from friends and family who’ve seen the bee and have watched it progress over the last two months.
Now, the bee is done. I’m glad I completed the project despite my doubts and misgivings, and I am proud of this drawing, however imperfect it may be.