Thursday, June 18

The Joy of Sketching - Six Benefits for Artists

Today’s Image
Pencil Sketch on Paper
Copyright 2007

I’ve been wanting to write about the subject of sketching in the OrbisPlanis Art Blog for a while, but things have a way of being put off, if you know what I mean.

What prompted me to think of sketching as a subject was a gift I received several months ago. It’s a sketchbook. It’s a real hardbound book, and that’s the actual title on the cover—Sketchbook. The subhead says “archival quality drawing paper acid-free/176 pages.” The pages are crisp and white and almost feel like vellum. Very nice.

I put it on a shelf with all my other art books, and it’s just been lying there since. But I’m going to start keeping it in a prominent, easy-to-grab spot so that I will use it and take it with me when I go places. I don’t sketch enough, and I bet you don’t either. Shame on us. If we call ourselves artists, then we should be sketching—all the time.

When I renewed my interest in art—it’s been a couple of years now, the very first thing I did was to sketch. If you’ve been an OrbisPlanis reader from the beginning, then you may recall that one of my favorite kinds of art was, and still is, line drawing. Today’s Image is one of my earlier sketches.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, as the old saying goes, so I pulled out one of my pencils, looked at a couple of photos in magazines for reference, and began to sketch away. It had been a long time since I had drawn anything, I’m talking decades here.

Well, it was exhilarating. There’s nothing quite like sketching on a wide-open sheet of paper to give you a sense of personal freedom. Plus, you can draw whatever you want. How many things in life allow you to do whatever you want, whenever you want? Not too darn many, but sketching is one of them.

As I said, as artists we need to be sketching all the time. Here a few of the many benefits:

1. Keeps your drawing skills fresh – like everything else, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

2. Makes you not only look, but also see – which we artists know is the key to everything in art.

3. Lets you capture subjects en plein air – there’s nothing like viewing a subject on-the-spot.

4. Gives you ideas for future drawings and paintings – who’s not looking for their next motif?

5. Gives you pride of ownership – it’s all yours and no one else’s

6. Captures your ideas and interest for future reference – and can also be an archive (there was an exhibit of nothing but Pablo Picasso’s early sketches at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art last year that I was fortunate enough to see).

You can probably think of other benefits, and the barrier to entry is low. There are few people in the world who don’t have a pen or pencil and paper lying around. That and time are all you need. What are we waiting for—an engraved invitation, as a close relative of mine used to say? So, rather than sitting around thinking about it, why not get out there and sketch it?



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  2. Great points! I struggle as well keeping up with my sketchbook. Now, I'm inspired.

  3. Thanks Jeb. I try to draw and/or paint everyday. Perserverence is the key.

  4. These are some good tips. I paint almost everyday, but have more trouble keeping up with a sketch book. There was one point where I kept a sketch journal for several months and produced some really cool things! It's definitely a useful and rewarding practice!

  5. Thanks for your comment. I'm working on my next blog, which I think will be something about drawing, too (maybe).

  6. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  7. Dayana-Thanks for your comment. Please keep visiting (and tell your friends about OrbisPlanis, too). I lvisited your site and like your use of YouTube to give sketching tips!