All posts by Rob Court

Founder and drawing coach at the Scribbles Institute, Rob helps adults and kids learn basic drawing skills for work, school, and enjoyment. He is the author of a number of how-to-draw books.

The Natural Way to Draw

“There is only one right way to draw and that is a perfectly natural way. It has nothing to do with artifice or technique. It has nothing to do with  aesthetics or conception. It has only to do with the act of correct observation, and by that I mean a physical contact with all sorts of objects through all the senses.” —Kim Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw

As a drawing coach, one of my greatest thrills is seeing students smile as they revel in pure, honest sketching from life. I enjoy nudging each student to the next level of exploration and discovery in finding their own confident, natural way to draw. Continue reading The Natural Way to Draw

Inspiration, Flowers, & Youth Design Team

During our studio sessions, we learn to engage in the moment, to be enthralled with the process of drawing. Instead of always having high expectations for final artwork, we embrace the challenges and sweet little successes, even if those successes amount to just a few well-placed contour lines on a paper filled with frustrating attempts. Shown above, Mike works through the challenges of blocking and sketching studies of a statue bust. Persistence in solving problems can yield inspirational results for both student and teacher.

We are also learning that we never know where inspiration will come from, or when it will arrive… Continue reading Inspiration, Flowers, & Youth Design Team

Precise or Wonky Lines? Both Are Cool!

Last week our Level 3 students started to explore how ink and water flows on paper as they experimented with various line techniques. Shown above is Fiona’s first study of wonky lines and watercolor from a reference book on urban sketching.

During her private session on Saturday, Nicole lays watercolor onto her pencil sketch of a rose as she ponders the option of adding ink or keeping it only watercolor. We’ll see next week.

Continue reading Precise or Wonky Lines? Both Are Cool!

2B or Not 2B?

Which pencil should you use for drawing? That is the question.


During the early 17th century, as Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet first gazed upon a skull and questioned what to be in life, the country of England was busy mining a valuable carbon material. This dark, powdery material eventually became known as graphite (derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write’). Artists soon discovered graphite to be extremely useful for the process of drawing.

However, the big technological breakthrough for drawing came in 1795, when a French scientist named Nicholas-Jacques Conte invented the pencil. By mixing clay with graphite, Conte found ways to alter the hardness of pencil leads which produced darker and lighter shades of black. Modern-day pencils are available in a wide range of black shades—such as 2B, 2H, HB—enabling artists to achieve endless combinations of drawing techniques and styles.

How to choose the right pencil for the job at hand? Here are recommendations on basic drawing pencils I make to students that can help you get started: Continue reading 2B or Not 2B?

Drawing Italy: (Part 1) Wherever You Go, There You Are

Studies from inside and outside the room at Hotel Italia, Rome

After months of anticipation, the moment of departure finally arrived—I was jetting to Italy with the purpose of diving into its culture and drawing in my sketchbooks. During the long flight, arcing over Iceland toward Zurich and Rome, I pondered Robert Henri’s advice in his book The Art Spirit:

“The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes—no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests. He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook.”

That would be me; a sketch hunter for a month-long adventure in Italy.

Continue reading Drawing Italy: (Part 1) Wherever You Go, There You Are

Students Explore the Benefits of Sketchbooks

Drawing Lab students work in sketchbooks to augment studies we usually do on larger paper. Our Wednesday and Thursday evening crews enjoy learning quick gesture sketches as well as longer, detailed studies of objects around the studio. Shown in the above photos, Lenore happily busted out a fine Picassoesque gesture sketch of the rooster, while Fiona swiftly studied textures and details of the rusty, old lantern.

Our Thursday evening crew, deep in the sketchbook drawing zone

Regular practice in a sketchbook is an important aspect of improving observational drawing skills. The sketchbook is also a powerful tool for drawing from imagination, organizing ideas for projects, and journaling one’s deepest thoughts. Continue reading Students Explore the Benefits of Sketchbooks