My September Daily Sketch Project

* This is an excerpt from my monthly News from my Studio Newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can sign up to receive it at the right.

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Very quick pen sketch from life.

Example: very quick pen sketch from life.

I’ve had a lot of artistic projects simmering in the back of my mind for months now, but one of the most persistent has been a Daily Sketch Project.

I do sketch fairly often, but really would like to develop an every-day-without-fail daily sketching habit, and since I am the type of person who always seems to do best when I get serious enough about my goals to turn them into commitments, I’ve decided to start a Daily Sketch Project for the month of September.

Quick sketch in pen with watercolour pencil wash and a bit of journaling.

Example: quick sketch in pen with watercolour pencil wash and a bit of journaling.

So, what exactly do I mean by the word “sketch”? Essentially, I think of sketches as unrefined “practice drawings”, which may be created in any medium (including paint), and that are not intended to be displayed as finished works of art. For me, sketches are intended to promote a sense of play, freedom and perhaps exploration and therefore I never worry about mistakes I may make during the process, or even about completing my sketches. They are usually created fairly quickly in a rough or exaggerated style, but I may spend more time and pay more attention to detail if I wish to explore an element of a proposed drawing, such as composition or value or perspective, etc. More refined sketches may also serve as preliminary studies of a subject or scene I wish to draw or paint later. I use sketches very much as a learning tool for myself. The upside about sketching for me is that it’s not only educational, but is also a lot of fun and very relaxing.

Example: fast sketches from life and imagination.

Example: fast sketches from life and imagination.

Having committed myself to this month long Daily Sketch Project, I’ve also decided to focus my attention on just one subject for the duration of the month. I chose to narrow my focus in this way partly because I felt it would be much more successful as a learning tool for me, but also because if and when time is an issue for me, then at least I won’t have to waste any of my time wondering what to draw! And so, for the month of September, I’ve decided to sketch trees … and any/everything related to trees (ie: leaves).

Example: detailed but incomplete sketch of wizard wands (from imagination)

Example: detailed but incomplete sketch of wizard wands (from imagination)

I love trees, and I do paint a lot of surrealistic curly-branched ones, but I’d like to do some more realistic drawings of them in the future, so I think studying them in sketches will be of great benefit for me. As much as possible, I am going to try to sketch from life, though if I can’t access a live tree I will permit myself to use photos for reference. And, if I enjoy (and can keep up with!) this daily project during September, then I plan to continue the project throughout the rest of the year, and explore a different subject in depth every month.

Example: detailed sketch in coloured pencil, with notes, from life.

Example: detailed sketch in coloured pencil, with notes, from life.

If you’re an artist, do you keep a sketchbook and sketch regularly? Have you ever done a sketchbook project as I’ve described? If not, why not join me with a sketching project of your own?  I’ll be posting my sketches every week on my blog.  Perhaps you’d like to do something similar and post yours as well.

Example: detailed study of crow in preparation for serious drawing (from my own reference photo).

Example: detailed preliminary study of crow in preparation for serious drawing (from my own reference photo).

And if you’re not an artist, have you ever considered starting a sketchbook and perhaps using it to keep an illustrated journal or to doodle patterns or even to practice drawing a banana every day for a week? You’ll be amazed at how quickly your drawing skills improve if you draw the same subject day after day!

Whatever it is that you love to do, whether it’s drawing, writing, photography, cooking, knitting, calligraphy, gardening, dancing, singing … whatever it is, try to find at least 15 – 60 minutes every day to practice and hone your skill and do what you love to do.

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