Tag Archives: sketching

The Art of Studying

Showing off our finished drawings to family and friends can be gratifying. Enthusiastic viewers appreciate your techniques and may even understand that you spend many hours practicing to improve your skills. But hidden to their eyes is your dedication to doing studies—a most misunderstood aspect of learning to draw from observation.

In the tradition of the Renaissance artists, Naomi (shown above) learns the importance of studying as she practices using the system of perspective drawing.

Rachel maps out the contours and tonal values of a still life for her charcoal study.

Early Egyptian, Greek, and Italian Renaissance artists and artisans used drawing to study their subjects. They made countless study sketches to solve problems, prepare artwork, and map out elaborate architecture.

By doing study sketches, students at the Scribbles Institute learn to block in dominant shapes of their subject, sketch accurate contours, and confidently work their way toward drawing final compositions.

But as we learn the art of studying, there can also be a lot of “unlearning” during the process. Continue reading The Art of Studying

Sketches In Paradise

Waking up to a misty Payne’s Gray sky that engulfs coastal Santa Cruz is common at this time of year. On this particular Saturday morning, I was hoping for summer sunshine that would keep our paper dry and help us to see and sketch crucial shadows.

Anticipation ran high as I packed my sketchbook and a lunch. A small tribe of my most ardent studio students was gathering for a workshop at one of my favorite outdoor sketching locations, Wilder Ranch State Park. Continue reading Sketches In Paradise

Getting to the Finish Line

After your first session or two with me it becomes clear—while spending hours practicing my block-sketch-draw method, we often find ourselves in a tortoise and hare race.

As you jump ahead to attempt drawing perfectly finished lines, I slow you down to keep your line work light and open. As you slow down to finish a specific area of your drawing, I come along and have you bounce around the entire composition, comparing the size of one shape to another, correcting the distance between an angled line and a curved one, and so on.

This constant process of comparative and relational measuring can prompt students’ inward screams, “When will I ever get to finish a drawing?” Continue reading Getting to the Finish Line

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

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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.

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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