-By Dan dos Santos

One of the downsides of turning your passion into a vocation, is that it is very easy to get in the rut of not doing your craft unless someone is paying you to do so. After spending all day painting pictures for someone else, the last thing I often feel like doing is spending my time off painting even more.

That’s not good for your creativity, or your career. It’s important to remain passionate about you do.

I’ve recently taken to attending a local Drink & Draw every week at one of my favorite coffee shops. I typically only stay for about 2 or 3 hours, but in that time, I get to drawing things I wouldn’t normally draw, in mediums I wouldn’t normally work in, without reference, and with absolutely no worries about whether or not it comes out well.

When working professionally, there is a standard of quality that your client comes to expect of you. Sadly, experimentation does not lend itself well to a consistent workflow. The result is, I rarely take real chances in my professional work.

At the Drink & Draw, I use markers, colored pencils, charcoal, white out, and even crayons at times… all without worrying if it’s going to be ‘good’ or not when I’m done. It doesn’t matter… not even a little!

That has been really liberating for me, lately.

I now find myself MAKING time each week so I can paint for myself. I’ve even been bringing some new found techniques and excitement back into my professional work, rekindling my enthusiasm when I need it most.

Here are a few miniature X-Men paintings I’ve done lately. I challenged myself to do one an evening for three evenings straight.

For this piece, I started with a pencil sketch on a piece of 8×8 inch board which had been primed in grey acrylic.

I sealed the pencil with a few washes of acrylics, and then did the majority of the modeling using a few colored pencils. The colored pencils provide a such a great groundwork, that even slight coat of oils results in a fairly finished look in a surprisingly short amount of time.

I’m planning to set aside a few more evenings to do several more of these. My hope to do portraits of all my favorite Mutants.