Skill Development in Pictures


Those of you who are regular readers of this blog are aware with my interest in the processes involved in Skill Development. When I decided to start blogging, I created a list of skills that I needed to develop. I know that my introduction stated that I was only doing this for myself. While this is still fundamentally true, I would be lying if I said that the people reading this were not looking forward to new posts. The problem is that usually, skill development is amorphous. We have a sense for how our skill(s) are developing but rarely do we have a chance to sit down and look at the results in relation to our increase in skill.

In my post on ‘Personal Logos‘, I mentioned that Art and Illustration were giant holes in my ‘Skill Asset List’. I went out and purchased several books on Drawing and Cartooning/Sketching. I then signed up for the Adobe Creative Cloud and got books on Illustrator and Photoshop CS6. I created a schedule that requires study on these skills every night for the next 2 months. I am happy to say that I am quite ahead of where I expected to be.

My ego and pride usually get in the way of publicizing unskilled work for public consumption. Well, this blog is part of my attempt to break out of my own self-limiting habits. Below, in pictures, will be my attempt to climb the Drawing/Illustration/Cartooning ladder. I am only 3 weeks in so my work is very poor. I intend to update this post from week to week. My hope is that eventually I will see a very significant difference. For those of you who are artists, use this series to remind yourself how much better you are than I am. J

I am able to look at my sketches and able to easily separate three skill groups. I am excited about this process. Just by looking at the difference between the three groups, I may be doing decent enough work to illustrate my blog around Skill Level 5.

*Updated 5/30*

I think I am starting to see a Skill level 4 come of my drawings.

Skill level 4: 5 weeks to?




Skill level 1: 0 to 5 days

Just beginning. No skill at the outset.

This is a devil head. I have an idea for a blog post that

will take advantage of this.


I was playing with shading. Went

to far.





Skill level 2: 5 days to 1 month.

I’m starting to get a sense of how the faces layout. It is still too much copying of other peoples work. Still nothing original.







Skill level 3: 10 days to 1 month.

Skill actually appears to drop a bit. I think this is due to me trying to do my own work and not copy others.

I was having issues with hair. I did this while listening to a YouTube videa on drawing hair. I did quite poorly in this, however the quality of hair does start to increase.

Someone said, “Draw a character based on the letter ‘A’.

This is what happened.

On of my firs tattempots to create something on my own with no input.

The admin at my company. First drawing I did that looks anything like what I intended.

Just a fun girl from a book.

My first attempt to draw Tre. Source is below.


This is the image I am most proud of at the moment. This is based on a picture from the central girls wedding. The source for this is below.



The drawing is not good, but I only did this so I could play with the compressed chalk that came in the drawing kit.






Micah Norman

My Personal Branding Story: Introduction and Why

A book I am the process of reading called “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi makes the assertion that “People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives” and “as long as we respond predictably to what feels good and what feels bad, it is easy for others to exploit our preferences for their own ends.”  I find both of these statements if true to be truly transformative.  Recently, a friend of mine posted to twitter her realization that she had become so comfortable with the drive to work that she barely even noticed it any more.  I have noticed the same effect in my life so I began researching the causes of this.  What happens to us when we ‘Space Out’?  I have always assumed that when a task becomes automated we are able to spend our cognitive energies on other things.  In the book ‘Incognito: The Secret Lives of our Brain” the author David Eagleman states, “awareness of your surroundings occurs only when sensory inputs violate expectations”.  I have read other books that seem to indicate that our conscious does not start to ‘spend our cognitive energies on other things’ but in fact goes below the surface until some else requires its input.  I found this quite scary.  My belief that our consciousnesses has 80 some odd years worth of value and then blinks out of existence could not be resolved with the realization that the majority of that time would be spent below the surface waiting for something requiring its intervention.  Since reading “Incognito” I have set alarms and invented triggers to force self awareness on things that in the past I would consider beneath notice.  Specific shades of red, certain words and an absolutely annoying application that pop’s up an alarm randomly on my work computer became triggers for forced initiation of self awareness.

All of this is leading somewhere, I promise.  With these fears in mind and my haphazard attempt at resolution I began asking myself “Why am I the person that I am?”  Why do I enjoy boxing when most people react negatively to being hit in the face?  People exaggerate how much it hurts, but that does not mean its not still somewhat painful.  Why do I love long conversations with knowledgeable people on the concepts of Quantum Physics?  I am not a Physicist.  Therefore it is quite likely that I could spend the rest of my life with zero knowledge on the subject of Solar Fusion and not have the slightest negative impact.  Yet I expend what is a biologically and cognitively a huge amount of energy on stuff that doesn’t matter in my life.  Now certainly every once in a while something pops up in my extracurriculars that becomes applicable.  The concept of ‘Opportunity Cost’ in Economics for instance.  Yet when I began my Economics class from Wharton via Coursera, I had no expectation that this would occur and only knew that it was going to cost me up to 12 hours per week.  So I asked a simple, “Why?”  After a good deal of soul searching, I realized that I had no means to answer this question, but I figured out who did;  Western Capitalism!

Businesses in many cases integrate thousands of people across disparate fields of study.  They do an amazing job at aligning and enabling every individual in the organization to move towards the same goal.  How do they do this?  It seems logical to assume that Finance wants to get costs as low as possible, Executives want to control messages, Marketing wants free reign to push the business, IT wants all the cash in the world to experiment with toys after the business needs have been answered.  How is it that these organizations do not Spaghettify*  under the constant pressures pulling them in multiple different directions at the same time.  These were the same questions I was trying to answer for myself.  It seems that business has the answer.  ‘Policy Documents’, ‘Mission Statements’, ‘Vision Statements’ and a host of other control mechanisms.  These items tell everyone in the organization how to answer questions at different levels of abstraction and specification.   The ‘Procedure Document‘ might tell you how to tag a file for backup, but why back it up?  This is answered in the ‘Guidelines Document‘.  The ‘Guidelines Document’ determines its requirements from a ‘Standards Document‘ and our ‘Standards Document’ is an outgrowth the ‘Policy Document‘.  None of these things matter without a good ‘Mission Statement‘ to give us the details and measures the company cares about.  Without a ‘Vision Statement‘, outlining the reason for the company’s existence, how can you know anything?

I think this holds some answers for me.  I have decided to go through the process of working these items out for my life.  While it is possible that I will go through this process and realize in the end that it is pointless, I seriously doubt I will be less complex** for having done it. I will be blogging the process.  As i said in my Inaugural Post, this is mainly so I can keep my thoughts in order through the process.  It however is possible that like the ‘Opportunity Cost’ knowledge from my Economics class, I will stumble upon something important and useful for my life and others lives.

In the original posting I forgot to mention that as part of this process I am going to learn enough about logo theory and science to design one of my own.  I am totally going to have capes made!

This word Spaghettify comes from the best possible end of life scenario.  If you are interested in Black Holes, check this article out.  Also check out ‘Death by Black Hole and other Cosmic Quandaries  by Neil deGrasse Tyson  I promise it is worth it

** I use the term complex as it is a primary point made in the book ‘Flow’.  The author claims that Complexity should be a primary goal in our lives.  Two quotes he makes on the subject, “Complexity requires investing psychic energy in goals that are new, that are relatively challenging.” and “more complex because it involves greater challenges, and demands greater skills”.



Micah Norman

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