Saturday, January 21, 2012

Creative Thoughts About Sketching

Sketching is one of those essential tasks that I try to do everyday but time doesn't always permit or I become distracted for one reason or another. I usually start the day with a cup of coffee and listen to NPR news to get the body warmed up and the brain functioning. When I enter the studio, I inspect my surroundings as I left the previous evening. The computers are all warmed up and humming, so I check my e-mail for messages or unanswered e-mails to send. After about five minutes on the internet I look for whatever sketchbook, pencil and kneaded eraser are within easy reach. I sit down and stare at the blank page and wonder what I will conjure up today. On some days this is easier than others. If I need to, I will start with some simple doodles that gradually lead to more complex sketches. I really enjoy the tactile feel of the pencil on paper because so much of my finished work ends up on the computer. When I have a day when the muse is speaking to me, I continue drawing until it is completed. I don't want to loose my momentum because it isn't always easy returning to this ideal state of sketching.

Lacking inspiration is something all artists go through. This has forced me to develop an attitude how to handle these moments. I have a series of steps I go through before sketching. I may go through my reference files to see if anything sparks my imagination. I generally think of sketching as a series of steps applied. If I am just doodling I let my mind wander and the pencil freely create images. I look for something I can possibly latch onto and develop. I will also try a more structured approach. Picking up an anatomy book or photographs I attempt to sketch the images. This doesn't hurt because at some point I will us these exercises in future sketches. One of my favorite books is "Bridgman's Complete Guide To Drawing From Life." A fine addition to any library collection. Check out for purchase at: I may sit there with pencil and paper and try to conjure ideas for future illustrations and sketch them. This can be very challenging because I am forcing the noodle to think. If I feel I am not being productive I take a healthy walk to overcome the draught and return to my drawing state.

Creativity for me involves the process of pouring amounts of energy into the drawing process. I find sketching very exciting because I never know what will appear. I do encourage you to take the time and sketch. You can either sign up for drawing classes at the local art school or adult centers. Take your pencil and pad downtown or favorite location and try sketching people as they walk. You will discover things you never really saw before. As the great illustrator Walt Stanchfield said, "Sketching is to the artist what shadow boxing is to a boxer; keyboard practice is to a concert pianist; practice is to a tennis player, or a participant in any sport." Make some time or maybe your New Year's resolution and start sketching.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this article send them my way. Tell me how sketching affects you. I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject. Send me your comments so I can respond or include in my next blog article.