Learning from Bryce Kho
For almost a year, I've been working my way through a drawing course taught by artist Bryce Kho on Class101. Now that I've reached the end, it's a bittersweet feeling. The class helped me form an entirely new mindset around creating art. Bryce stresses the importance of drawing what you actually like, and enjoying the process. Like any other craft, drawing takes a lot of commitment and discipline. But it is ultimately meant to be fun for both the artist and the viewer. Somewhere along my artistic journey, I had forgotten this.
For a long time, I thought that drawing was something that was supposed to come easily. Once you "learned how to draw," you would be able to spontaneously create any image you wanted with minimal effort. Through Bryce's example, however, I learned that even the most seasoned artists have to put forth serious mental effort when they sit down to draw.
Bryce's art is full of color, life, and movement. The attention to detail and sheer joy that comes through in his work is highly inspirational. I had only been following Bryce for a short while before learning about his class, "Creating Ink and Watercolor Illustrations." I was intrigued by his use of traditional mediums like ink, dip brushes, and watercolor, all of which I wanted to explore in my own art. The class felt like a serendipitous step in that direction.
Class supply list:
Kuretake Bimoji Brush Pens
(extra fine, fine, medium, broad, medium/bristles)
Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors, 24 color set
Canson XL Watercolor Pad, 9x12
Pental Arts Aquash Watercolor Brushes (assorted sizes)
Pentel Arts Portable Pocket Brush Pen (medium)
Bryce's recommended supplies included many tools I had never used before, including the watercolor brush pens, which blew my mind. Through a lot of experimentation, I learned which tools I loved and which I struggled with. I ultimately prefer brush pens with bristles, such as the Pentel Pocket Brush, for the varied, textured lines they provide. During the class, though, I pushed myself to draw with thinner lines, which aren't as forgiving.
Learning to paint with a CMYK method totally redefined my ideas about watercolor. Like Bryce mentions in the class, I used to pick the green paint for green objects, red for red objects, and so on. By layering colors in washes, the CMYK method allows a greater consistency across the piece, and an overall color scheme that feels cohesive.
Rather than one sudden revelation, it was the accumulation of small lessons and tips from Bryce's class that ultimately helped me to improve my work. Much of this happened unconsciously, with a lot of practice. I now know the importance of line weight, composition, consistent color mixing, and being aware of the underlying 3D shapes of an object.
When we see a finished piece of art, what we are not seeing are the endless hours of practice and research that went into it. I experienced a lot of frustrations during this class, and even considered giving up towards the end. The thought of my final illustration was so daunting that I nearly avoided it altogether. Instead, I mentally gathered up everything I had learned, and sat down to finish a full color illustration.
Now, I can't believe I considered not finishing the class. I would have regretted not carrying out these lessons to the end. I made several mistakes, and there are things I would like to have drawn differently, but I am proud of my final illustration. It's a huge personal success. I feel like I crossed the first hurdle towards making the kind of art I want to make.
The class helped me discover what I like and don’t like, and strengthened the direction I want to take in my art. I understand my strengths better, and I know the areas in which I need to improve. Equally important was understanding the kinds of art I don't want to do. For me, Bryce’s greatest advice was to not follow convention, and instead focus on drawing what you like. It’s tempting to replicate what we see on social media and try to gain popularity that way, but it’s much more fulfilling to indulge in what we actually enjoy, even if it doesn’t fit the mold of what is popular.
Art isn't automatic. Each line requires attention and intention. Drawing is not a mindless endeavor. It takes focus, discipline, and patience. Once I learned this lesson, I was free to commit myself to improving my craft even further. Now I know what I'm capable of.