Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review: Mike Daikubara’s Sketch Now, Think Later

Mike Daikubara's new book (and the little workshop
handbook that inspired it)
Boston urban sketcher Mike Daikubara has done it again – published another fantastic book. Self-published, his other books are collections of his work by topic or travel location, such as the one I reviewed a few years ago about his journey along Boston’s Freedom Trail. This time, his book has been commercially published by Quarry in the same format as the popular Urban Sketching Handbook series. (In that series, I’ve reviewed Architecture & Cityscapes and People & Motion by Gabi Campanario, and Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower.)

Sketch NOW Think Later is Mike’s first instruction book. Subtitled Jumping Right into Sketching with Limited Time, Tools, and Techniques, the book is based on principles of urban sketching that he introduced to his workshop participants at the Manchester Urban Sketchers symposium last year. I got a brief sneak peek at that workshop, which I covered as one of my duties as a symposium correspondent, but I wished I could have stayed for the whole thing to learn more. His new book is a much-expanded version of the pocket-sized booklet he gave out to his workshop participants (I was lucky enough to snag one).

It’s no wonder I’m a huge fan of his new book: Mike’s approach toward sketching on location aligns exactly with mine. A travel lover like I am, he would sketch all the time if he could, but he’s realistic enough to know that the weather, the needs of travel companions, or other constraints can keep him from taking as much time as he’d like on a sketch. Mike believes firmly that a sketch can be done – no matter how little time you have – as long as you keep your tools and methods simple and adjust your expectations to the conditions.

To help explain his principles, he has developed a unique quadrant graph to help sketchers evaluate their own energy level (and therefore ability to concentrate) balanced with how much time is available. Ideally, we’d all like to have plenty of time and energy to make all of our sketches, but if either is short, a good sketch can still be made – if you follow Mike’s approach.

Fully illustrated step-by-step instructions
Sketch NOW Think Later begins with an overview of his compact, portable sketch materials, tools and bag that all help him work as quickly and simply as possible. Unique to the book is his emphasis on his favorite fountain pen, and – surprise! It’s a Sailor with a fude nib – my favorite fountain pen, too! (Full disclosure: Mike’s the one who got me started on my epic search for my grail fountain pen that led back to the same kind of pen he loves.) One reason he favors the Sailor fude is that its ability to impart a wide range of line widths enables him to carry only one pen instead of several (which keeps his kit slim).

Also like me, Mike prefers to stand while he sketches because it gives him greater flexibility in finding a good angle. And since standing is not as comfy as sitting, he’s more likely to sketch faster and get the sketch done – something that motivates me, too. He does, however, occasionally take a seat – on the world’s tiniest stool! In his Manchester workshop, he demo’d how the stool fits in his back pocket. (If you thought my little Daiso stool is ridiculously tiny, you’d love the photo of him on his even tinier stool!)

Other chapters focus on line, color, composition, and other sketching elements, all with an emphasis on working efficiently to capture the moment with spontaneity and energy. For example, if time is short, don’t color the entire drawing, Mike suggests. Instead, choose the parts that caught your attention first, and color what you want your viewer to focus on. Or a symmetrical subject, like a building or a car, could be colored only on one side, since the opposite side is the same. Mike’s step-by-step instructions are fully illustrated with his precise yet whimsical diagrams.

Throughout, the text is beautifully illustrated with many full-color examples from this prolific artist’s sketchbooks.

Targeted toward beginning and busy sketchers who want to learn how to make the best use of their limited time, Sketch NOW Think Later also has practical ideas for more experienced sketchers. We can all use tips on how to streamline our sketch kits and optimize time so we can do more of what we love most – sketch NOW!





3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! I asked our public library to purchase Sketch Now, Think Later (Felix Scheinberger’s too) and they did! What would your minimal kit be Tina?

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    Replies
    1. My minimal kit? That's a great question, Cathy! A few years ago I wrote this post, but I've changed quite a bit since then, so it's not really current:
      http://tina-koyama.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-i-would-take-to-gilligans-island.html

      It must be time to update that! :-) Thanks for the idea -- and stay tuned!

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  2. Good review of Mike's book. Maybe I'll have to put it on my Christmas list.

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