On August 18, 2014 our daughter started a two year graduate program at the University of Houston. Texas is a long way from home. I would miss her. “Mmm,” I thought, “while she is away intensively studying, I will advance my art education by taking on some intensive projects myself.” One was to sketch every day. I bought some 6 x 8 inch sketch books and made up some rules to follow. In essence, my own Masters Program. I would sketch ONLY in black ink, ONLY from life, and this effort would ONLY take 30 minutes a day. Bravely I went to the local school bus stop on that August day and commenced drawing. I had talked to two other artists about posting my sketches on Instagram and Facebook each day as a structure to get me to follow through. I posted a blog about this project on October 26, 2014, when I was at sketch #70. I was amazed THEN, that I had followed through for that long. Tonight I will be sketching #564! I am still amazed and the rules I made up have changed.
This is the first (upright) and one of the latest (laying down and with color) sketches. I still sketch from life sometimes, but, also allow myself to use photos now. One day I was sketching in triple digit summer heat. After about a half hour, sweaty hand sticking to the paper and attention distracted by my discomfort, I took a photo to finish the piece from and went home to my studio. That rule change gave me the freedom to go back through all the photos I have taken over the years, with the intention of using them for paintings, and revisit scenes and objects that artistically attracted me but got pushed aside.
I still use black ink to sketch with. Pigma Micron pens, usually 01, 03, 05, and a black fine tip brush for broad areas of black. I enjoy drawing with ink, but I also chose ink because it is a “declarative” medium. You can’t erase it. I will become a BOLDER artist for using it, lol.
I started using COLOR! First to clarify or emphasize something in the sketch. THEN, it became an essential component. I have quite a stash of Prismacolor pencils from earlier art projects. They are my old friends, blending easily into each other. Aside from enhancing the drawing, some of these sketches are becoming preliminary color studies for paintings.
Mistakes can be just a change in design, especially if you have a small pointy brush and a bottle of white opaque paint. Helpful when adding snowfall, wispy hairs, highlights, and obliterating errant pen strokes. These drawings are small, fitting within a 6 x 8 inch area and are usually around 4 x 5 inches. Even though they are small, the 30 minute time limit fell by the wayside a long while ago. My sketches take anywhere from 2 to 4 or more hours a day.