The Story Behind This Website

I usually keep it short, but I decided to make this a longer article for people who want to know the person behind this website better.

Hi. I am Ayal Pinkus. I live in the Netherlands.

In 2007, I decided to take a sabbatical. I had worked long days for many years and could afford to take a break. I had been programming for twenty-seven years, making money with it for twenty-three years.

Programming was and is fun. But I felt I should do something else. Programming used to be about figuring out if I could do something but after twenty-seven years of always being able to figure out how to code something, that wasn’t a question anymore. Of course, I could code that. I could code anything. It didn’t feel challenging anymore.

example of my sketchbook pages where you see me do my own drawing exercises
Sketchbook pages done in Februari 2024.

I had made serious attempts at drawing when I was eighteen, and in my early twenties, when I went to university, I also did some model drawing classes. That ended when I started to work long hours as a programmer.

The sabbatical was a perfect opportunity to step back from programming and get back into drawing. I had seen well-drawn editorial cartoons and set myself the goal of learning editorial cartooning in a half year.


I was naïve. You can not learn to draw like that in six months.

I also found it wasn’t my art form. To do editorial cartoons, you have to make yourself really angry every day about something you see in the newspapers, and I am just not like that; I am a happy puppy. I adored the styles and the skills that went into these editorial cartoons, but the emotion that went with them wasn’t mine.

I returned to work after the sabbatical, but the company wasn’t the right place for me anymore. I had been the thirteenth employee, and now it had grown to six and a half thousand employees. Where we once did things by the seat of our pants, now you have enormous departments with their bureaucracies.

I decided to go to Wackers Academy. They train you to paint from observation. The academy wanted to train me to become a painter, but I kept drawing cartoons, then comics and soon felt I was pulled in two directions. I’d paint a still life during the day and then come home and continue on a comic. As great as it was, the academy wasn’t suitable for me. It felt that something was missing in their education, something I needed for what I wanted to make, but I could not point out what just yet. I left after three years after having learned a lot there.

Comics weren’t my thing, either. I found out I just enjoyed filling sketchbook pages.

I had a few easier years where I’d draw in the morning, do household chores, work out in the afternoon, and then draw in the evening.

Then I got a child.

Becoming a parent is the best thing in the world, but another person’s well-being is now more important than anything. It’s more important than keeping a regular drawing schedule, for sure.

I had seen other artists who had stopped creating and had a tough time getting back into it. I didn’t want to fall into that trap, so I kept a drawing habit, no matter how small.

I had a sketchbook and pencil or pen at hand. It’s highly interruptible: you can pick up a sketchbook when the little one falls asleep and put it away again when they wake up.


That was the theory. In practice, you’re so exhausted that you just want some me-time and to sip coffee.

But I did keep a drawing habit.

You can tell when productivity gurus don’t have kids themselves. Their advice does not hold for parents as parents can’t dedicate a fixed time and place to their activity because the little one takes precedence every second of the day.

My growth stagnated during that time, and I hated everything I drew. I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t find the time to figure things out. I am glad I kept the small drawing habit because eventually, taking care of your child becomes easier as they grow up, and the small drawing habit can quite quickly expand in your life.

I got back in the saddle after a few years! It feels like it takes forever when you’re in it, but it actually goes really fast.

Around 2018, I decided to figure out how social media worked. I chose to try Instagram. I started an account and shared some story illustrations. Strangers began following me. I analyzed their accounts and soon realized they were following me because they wanted to become better artists and hoped to glean information from studying my work. I decided to lean into that and make tutorial carousels.

Tutorial carousels did really well on Instagram back then. People would like them, share and bookmark them, and look at them longer, and the algorithm figured it was a good post and shared it with many more strangers.

The immense growth came when the Inktober account, which had around 800K followers, randomly shared two of my tutorial posts, not because they thought the posts were good, but to tell people that hey, they can do this too: share new knowledge you gained. From there, it was off to the races. Instagram showed my posts to a vast audience. The account eventually grew to around 38k followers.

The thing about Instagram was that I never felt in control. These things just happened to me; they were not a function of what I did. Because of that, ultimately, it felt like a failure because I had started this to figure out how social media works.

Also, making a tutorial took me more than a day, and you were supposed to post every day, so I burned out.

I also started to feel guilty because, with my tutorials, I kept people out of their sketchbooks and on the platform, mindlessly scrolling. I wanted them in their sketchbooks. I started posting drawing exercises, but these didn’t do as well. It is hard to start drawing. It’s more comfortable to scroll your feed, see a tutorial, study it, bookmark it for later, and tell yourself that you grew as an artist.

I started the “Practice Drawing This” website to have a central place where I have all my tutorials and tips. The website is also for me: it collects all the discoveries I have made about maintaining a drawing habit. The website is also there for me when I need it in the future. If I have to take a break from drawing, my website will help me get back into it. That’s what it’s really designed for.

I didn’t know if the website would succeed, but even if it was only helping me, that would be fine.

The website has a newsletter where I have the email addresses of people who are interested. It is a place I can control. The idea was to use social media to guide people to my website, and I still do that today. You’ll see a hint of my work on socials and then be led to my website, which contains all the information.

Some people still find me through Instagram, and Google has started finding pages people like and is actively guiding people to those pages. The people who this website is for like to collect reference images on Pinterest. I could easily create images for them to pin with a link to my website. I get many subscribers from there. My YouTube also leads people to my website. Places like the web, Pinterest, and YouTube are currently great for sharing evergreen content. These platforms can surprise you and find your audience for something even years after you posted it. The Instagram-like platforms that only show a post to people for a short period, not so much. I had more of a sense of control over the web (Google search), Pinterest, and YouTube. I had finally gotten what I was looking for; the beginning of an understanding how social media can work. On Pinterest and the web, people are really interested in form studies. You can have a captive audience on YouTube if you make them curious about something. I have to satisfy that curiosity, or else they will feel cheated! These evergreen platforms are much more predictable and rewarding to create posts for.

But I digress.

Around 2020, I discovered Kim Jung Gi. I was amazed at how he was able to draw from his imagination. I started looking up everything I could about him. In interviews, I read that he drew references from memory. I didn’t get why you would want to do that if you could draw the reference from observation. I tried it for a few days, and after day five, I drew something else from my imagination, and it looked fantastic. That blew my mind.

Drawing from memory quickly became my Swiss army knife method of drawing practice. You can practice absolutely anything that way: anatomy, perspective, anything. Look at the reference, draw from memory (I’ve come to learn that scientists call this active recall or test-based learning), compare with reference and work hard to remember the things you got wrong (which scientists call encoding), and then keep repeating that until you get it right.

This was one of the things that was missing at Wackers Academy: they trained you to draw from observation, to look at the model as much as possible, and at the paper as little as possible. With memory drawing, it is precisely the other way around! You don’t look at the model as you try to recall what you saw and draw that.

To be clear, you need to do both observation and memory drawing. Drawing from observation makes you better at seeing, a hugely important skill to develop as an artist. But as I later discovered, many things about art practice have a Yin-Yang thing about them; they require two things to keep each other in balance. Observation or memory? Both. Challenging fundamentals practice or fun doodling from imagination? Both. Drawing or writing? Both. Et cetera. These things keep each other in balance.

You’ll see that type of contradiction a lot with art instruction. The right approach depends on what you try to achieve, and only you know that. An artist or academy that doesn’t ask you first can not advise you. And that would include me. Don’t listen to me if my tips pull you in the wrong direction. You know best.

Today, I have a workbook crystallizing the main things I have learned about drawing habits. I do the workbook myself and try to do it every day. It’s designed to be a fun activity where you spend half an hour getting better at drawing.

The workbook is for people who want to improve at drawing while still enjoying it. I do not pretend to know what it takes to become a professional artist, as I am not one, and I do not plan on becoming one. It's just a workbook with short warm-up exercises that benefit any artist.

The workbook is about a daily warm-up. It starts with a dexterity exercise designed to help you better place marks on the page with intent and mentally get you into the flow. The second part is a memory drawing exercise, starting very difficult: you have to memorize something, and that’s just hard work. But as you repeatedly try to draw the thing, your drawings become better; drawing it gets easier and more fun. And you end with a pleasing sketchbook page after that. That is not unimportant because it keeps you motivated to draw every day.

You can practice drawing absolutely anything with this approach. It’s a tiny habit you can fit into most of your days.

And that’s where we are today! I just fill sketchbook pages daily, maintain my website, post on socials occasionally, and talk to fellow artists on my Discord. My newsletter just grows organically through evergreen posts I put on socials.

Why don’t you draw along with me? Check out my workbook, try the exercises for a week to see if they fit you, and check out my newsletter if you’re still on the fence. You can .

want to draw

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