Monday, September 30, 2019

Life-Drawing Retrospective

This old cowboy and I have been through a lot together.

How long does it take me to fill a 100-page, 9-by-12-inch sketchbook?

Apparently five-and-a-half years. On Feb. 28, 2013, I took a brand-new Strathmore toned sketchbook to a life-drawing session at Gage Academy (according to my blog, I completed my first five-visit life-drawing punch card that day, which felt like quite an accomplishment). Since I want to have time to take advantage of toned paper by practicing shading and highlights with dry media, I usually use that book only for poses of 10 minutes or longer, so I only use a few pages per session (I use a water-friendly sketchbook for shorter poses). At some sessions, I don’t use it at all. And I tend to go to life drawing only during the wet, cold months, not all year. Consequently, the toned book doesn’t get filled very quickly.

Last week, I finally sketched on the last page, and like each time I fill a Gage punch card, it felt like an accomplishment. As I took the sketchbook out of my life-drawing bag to replace with a fresh one, I thumbed through it before storing it on a shelf. The torn cover indicated how many times it’s been in and out of my bag. All the pages are badly warped and buckled from a water bottle incident years ago. This Strathmore and I have been through a lot together.

Unlike most of my location sketchbooks, which individually cover only a short period of time, this single book has become a retrospective of my progress (or lack thereof) over the past five-and-a-half years. (It’s very similar to my panorama landscape sketchbooks, which I tend to use mainly when I travel. I filled one in 2016 and another in 2018, and each included travels over several years.) For a process-oriented sketcher like me, it’s interesting to page through the book and observe the changes.

For example, when I compare sketches made from poses of the same duration, I can see that I am now able to get more detail or greater tonal definition in less time. Below are two 10-minute drawings from 2014 (Randy at left) and 2018 (Melissa at right). Last week, I even tried making five-minute drawings with tone using a dry medium (Conte), which I rarely do. It means my eye is getting faster at gauging and assessing form, and my hand must be moving faster, too – both skills I want to continue developing for sketching on location.

1/30/14 10-min. pose
6/4/18 10-min. pose

Sadly, not all of my skills have developed at the same rate. My single-biggest challenge at life drawing has always been, and continues to be, proportions: I tend to make the head too small in proportion to the body (look at poor Randy, above!). I have learned many times, from books and instructors, that the average human is about six-and-a-half heads tall. Whenever the model is standing upright, I always measure, sometimes more than once, to determine how many heads tall he or she is. Below left is a 20-minute sketch on the very first page of the book, done in 2013. I don’t know whether I was measuring back then, but as I’ve drawn him, the poor model is about nine heads tall (I couldn’t even fit his feet on the page).

At right is another 20-minute pose sketched just a couple of weeks ago. I recall carefully measuring Pete at six-and-a-half heads, yet now that I measure the drawing, he is more like seven heads tall. This is how it goes: I draw the head, measure out six-and-a-half heads, and make a mark where the bottom of his weight-bearing foot should end up. I also mark where the bottom of the torso should be. I draw from top to bottom, and when I hit the foot mark, I realize I am still at only about mid-calf. Drats. What happened?

2/28/13 20-min. pose
9/16/19 20-min. pose

A few years ago I took a life-drawing workshop from Mark Kang-O’Higgins. By that time, I was already aware of my difficulty with proportions, so I was trying to be extra conscious of this issue in class. During a critique, he came over to my easel, and after making a couple of comments about things he liked, he pulled out a pencil and started measuring the model (I cringed because I knew what was coming) and then my drawing. In reality, the model was the average six-and-a-half heads tall. My drawing was more than eight heads tall, and I only saw that as he counted out the heads.

Mark told me that making the head proportionally too small is one of the most common mistakes of beginning life-drawing students. He said there’s a natural tendency to get bigger and bigger as you go, so if you start from the head on a standing model, the body just gets longer and longer toward the feet. He said the exception to this tendency seems to be students who have had some portraiture experience but not as much full-body drawing experience. Those students tend to make the head disproportionately large because they are used to putting emphasis on the face.

Fascinating, right?
4/11/13 20-min. pose (I was so focused on the lovely curve of her back that I didn't see that I had drawn this model to be at least 10 heads tall!

As I leafed through the sketchbook from beginning to end, I could definitely see that my proportions have improved over time. And yet even as recently as a couple weeks ago, I still wasn’t hitting the mark. It’s good to review now and then to avoid getting cocky (and acknowledge what I need to focus on).

On the other hand, it’s also good to review for the gratification of seeing how much I have improved. I’ve seen some artists who use charcoal at life drawing immediately rub out each sketch after they’ve finished it so that they can simply use the same piece of paper for the whole session. Maybe for them, life drawing is nothing but practice, so they have no need to keep the evidence of that practice. If that’s true, they must be the ultimate in being process-oriented rather than product-oriented.

Yet I can’t help wondering why they wouldn’t keep their practice sketches so that they can have the gratification of seeing their progress over time. Compared to my urban sketches, which are meaningful and important to me as a record of the world around me, my drawings of nude models mean nothing – they are just the evidence of my practice. But the evidence of my progress is very meaningful and important. For that, I’m grateful to this Strathmore book, and I look forward to filling the next one.

Below are a few more sketches from the book.

2/22/16 10-min. pose
4/10/18 20-min. pose

4/17/18 10-min. pose
12/4/18 20-min. pose

1/17/19 10-min. pose
2/14/19 10-min. pose

9/23/19 5-min. poses

9/23/19 18-min. pose (This is the last drawing in the book.)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Colors of Autumn

9/25/19 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Fall is here, and that means city utilities are scrambling to get projects done before the worst of the wet weather sets in. As you’ve seen, I’ve been having a heyday sketching heavy machinery, but lately it’s been big ones just taking up parking spaces, not in action.

A few days ago, I had an opportunity to step up the challenge. Just a half block from home on busy Fifth Northeast, a big hole was in the street, and an excavator was moving rubble from the hole to a dump truck. After sketching several of these, it’s always fun to see one in action, because all the parts moving repeatedly make it easier to understand what I’ve drawn before. Even the stationary parts suddenly make sense. For example, I’ve drawn the pairs of slim yellow things folded up on parked excavators, but I didn’t realize until I made this sketch that they are actually “legs” (in front) stabilizing the machine – and that the wheels are elevated to keep from rolling.

The workers were faster than I expected: 25 minutes after I started this sketch, they were done and, thankfully, so was I.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Autumn at Danny Woo Community Garden

9/27/19 Sixth Ave. South, Chinatown/International District
The Danny Woo International District Community Garden is a favorite of USk Seattle during the transitional seasons. If the weather is on our side, we can sketch the terraced gardens and distant views of downtown Seattle, but if not, we can duck into the cozy Panama Hotel Café across the street. Yesterday we lucked out, and the chilly morning eventually yielded to sunshine in time for the throwdown.

Happy that I wore my down parka, I was still cold with the brisk wind coming up behind me from the Sound as I sketched the view looking down Sixth Avenue South from Kobe Terrace Park at the top of the garden (left). The row of bright yellow trees punctuated by the ID’s iconic red street lamps caught my eye (and as soon as I finished, I realized the perspective of those lamp posts was way off!).

9/27/19 entrance to Danny Woo Gardens
After getting some hot genmaicha from the Panama Hotel Café to warm my hands, I pulled up my hood and went back out – and immediately saw the next view I wanted to capture: It was the trellised entrance to Danny Woo Gardens framed by more yellow trees.

My self-photobombing aim was a bit off, too.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Product Review: Cretacolor Nero Pencil

Cretacolor Nero pencil

An item that was included in the Cretacolor pencil tin from my Amsterdam symposium swag bag was a Nero pencil. It’s available in five grades, and the tins I’ve collected have included various grades over the years. (Even though I cherish the symposium logo-embellished tins themselves, I do appreciate their contents, too.)

My Cretacolor tin from the Amsterdam symposium

What is the Nero pencil made of? Cretacolor’s product information says only that it “produces a shiny black, smudge-proof stroke. It is oil-based and, therefore, water-resistant,” without describing the rest of its contents. Blick’s website calls it a “deep-black pencil” and includes it in a group of “oil-bound charcoals.”

Compared with several pencils I have that are labeled charcoal, the Nero is much smoother and less smudgy. In application and darkness, it is closest to the Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black, which contains “a high proportion of carbon” mixed with graphite. I’m going to guess that the Nero is also a blend of graphite and carbon, but it’s a bit smoother than the Staedtler. My scribble tests below show smudging with a finger (left) and tortillon (right). (Edited: Parka refers to these as “oil-based charcoal” and compares them to graphite also.)

9/16/19 Pete (17-min. pose)
I’ve been using the Nero on and off at life drawing for the past few years, especially the extra soft grade, and I’ve come to appreciate its soft, dark line without the messy smudging of charcoal. However, because it doesn’t smudge as much, it also won’t produce the beautiful tonal gradient that charcoal is known for. Using a tortillon during longer poses, however, will smudge the line softly in a way that I find a more-than-satisfactory compromise if I can avoid charcoal’s mess.

Another benefit of the Nero pencil compared to charcoal pencils is that it can be sharpened quickly and efficiently with an ordinary sharpener, even an electric one. (Most charcoal pencils must be knife-sharpened to avoid breakage.) Look at the point I got on the Nero with my AFMAT electric long point!

Look at that point!

I like the Nero very much. Without the shininess of graphite or the messiness of charcoal, it has a rich matte black texture that makes it a lovely drawing pencil. So far, it’s the product I have used most from the Cretacolor boxes.

9/16/19 Pete (20-min. pose)

9/9/19 Shawna (10-min. pose)
Contents of the Cretacolor tin

Thursday, September 26, 2019


9/21/19 Wedgwood neighborhood

The last time I drove east on 75th, I had to pass through a slow area managed by flaggers, which can mean only one thing: heavy equipment nearby! Sure enough, numerous machines were digging around and doing who knows what. I waited until the following weekend and then went back, knowing that the machines would probably be quiet then. I found this beauty (top of post) resting on a side street, along with several more.

It rained for a couple of days, but on the next dry day, I went back for more. Apparently the project didn’t take long, and most of the machines had already moved on. But I managed to catch a twin brother (below) of the first one. They are identical except the one below has a smaller shovel on the end opposite from the large yellow shovel; the first one I sketched had some kind of flat-bottomed instrument instead.

As I was sketching, a woman in a car drove up slowly and finally stopped in front of me. “Are you drawing that machine. . .??” she asked, incredulous.

“Umm, yes. . . yes, I am.”

She broke out in a smile. “I saw you the other day. . . you were sketching the other one that was over there!”

Yes, that would be me, too.

9/24/19 Wedgwood neighborhood

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rainier Towers

9/19/19 old Rainier Tower (new Rainier
Square Tower behind it)

Several months ago USk Seattle met downtown to sketch around the new Rainier Square Tower under construction and the old Rainier Tower next to it. In the area for an appointment last week, I made a couple of quick, small sketches of the old tower. Back in the ‘70s when it was built, it struck me as strange (Greg always says it looks like a beaver has been gnawing it, and I think it looks like a pencil stuck in the ground, point down). But now I’m fond of its clean, elegant lines. (Bonus trivia: Rainier Tower was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed New York Citys World Trade Center.)

Behind it in both sketches, you can see the greenish glassy new tower with its stair-stepped construction. It’s coming along well and looks less messy than I drew it. Maybe by next spring I’ll go back and sketch it again.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

No Parking

9/18/19 Green Lake neighborhood

On the street where I usually park before walking around Green Lake, NO PARKING signs were on two blocks, and heavy equipment like this was either taking up the spaces or moving around in the street, obstructing traffic. It looks like a big project that’s going to take a while.

Annoyed? Not me! I’ll be back for more.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Product Review: Faber-Castell Water Brush

Faber-Castell water brush

At least two symposium swag bags I’ve received have included a Faber-Castell Art & Graphic Water Brush. I’ve tried quite a few water brushes over time, and I keep going back to my favorite, but I thought it was time to give the F-C a try.

First off, the F-C brush unit, as well as its reservoir, is one of the smallest I’ve seen; the only one slightly shorter is the Sakura (second from left, below) that came with my 12-color Koi watercolor kit, which I used when I first started sketching. It’s even shorter than Kuretake’s compact size brush. It’s handy if you want to keep your kit as compact as possible, but the tradeoff is that the water will not last long. (Pictured below from left: Faber-Castell, Sakura, Kuretake (standard length), Kuretake compact, Tombow, Pentel.)

From left: Faber-Castell, Sakura, Kuretake (full size), Kuretake (compact), Tombow, Pentel

Like most water brushes, the F-C reservoir has no plug (as my long-time favorite Kuretake does), so water tends to gush to the brush when the reservoir is squeezed. I find the flow a bit too heavy for the way I sketch with watercolor pencils, though I could probably learn to get used to it. Sometimes when I pull the cap off, drops of water fly out, which means water has been pooling on the brush or inside the cap.

Faber-Castell has no plug.
Kuretake's plug

Since the Kuretake is the brush I started with and continue to use because I like it, I didn’t realize until I began exploring other brushes that its plug is a unique feature. In addition to the ones pictured above, I’ve also tried the Derwent and the Molotow, and none of them has a plug between the reservoir and the channel leading to the brush. I think the Kuretake’s plug makes it much easier to control water flow.

Faber-Castell brush tip
The F-C’s brush size is comparable to a Kuretake medium, which is versatile, especially since the point is well-tapered (though not as pointy as the Pentel, which has the most tapered water brush point I’ve seen). As far as I know, the F-C comes in one size only. I wish it were available one size larger (comparable to the Kuretake large), which is the most useful for me when sketching on location. The F-C’s point is better for small details, though.
Brush stroke comparison with watercolor on 120-pound Canson XL watercolor paper

A unique feature of the F-C water brush is the scraping tool on the cap. While the paint or other water-soluble medium is still wet, the tool can be used to make rough texture marks in sgraffito fashion (the technique is demo’d in this Faber-Castell video). I admit that I haven’t used this feature beyond this small sample; it’s a bit outside my sketching style box, but if I continue to use this brush, I might eventually give it a try in the field. (This is a tool that Suhita Shirodkar or Marina Grechanik would probably enjoy!)

Scraping tool
Sample of scraping (watercolor pencil and water
 on 140 lb. Canson XL paper)
This might seem insignificant, but the F-C brush’s absolute best feature is the solid, audible click the cap makes when pulled off, replaced and also when posted. Despite my fondness for the Kuretake, its cap goes on and off with a decidedly more squishy feel – not at all solid. Posting it hasn’t been a problem, but that has an even squishier feel. I really appreciate the F-C cap’s distinct snap, which makes me fully confident that it is secure on either end.

Unfortunately, a cap’s snap probably isn’t the best reason to use a water brush. I’ll stick with my Kuretake for most uses.

However, there’s one function that the F-C would fulfill well: when I want a fast, juicy water flow to wet the paper with clean water before dropping in some sky color. I usually wet the paper with a spritzer, but if the area is small, and I want to control the water application better, I use a water brush. I’ve been using the Derwent for this task because it’s a gusher, but the F-C (with its nice cap) would be even better. And who knows – someday I might find a use for that scraper tool, too.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Drawing Conflict

9/16/19 Pete, 2-min. poses
9/16/19 Pete, 5-min. pose

Committed to attending weekly life drawing sessions at Gage this quarter, I was happy to hear that the weather forecast for last Monday was rain – I thoroughly enjoy spending a rainy afternoon drawing a model. But when Monday afternoon came around, the sky was sunny and clear! It was so tempting to sketch outdoors instead . . . yet I wanted to go to Gage, too. What to do, what to do?

I arrived at the school earlier than usual and looked around the parking lot . . . surely there would be something to draw in the warm sunshine. I’ve mentioned it before – if I view all subject matter as nothing more than abstract, three-dimensional forms in shade or light instead of rocks or nude men wielding swords, everything is a fascinating study.

9/16/19 Rocks, 2-min. pose

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Travel Sketching Tips

6/3/12 Getty Museum, Los Angeles (Made less than a year after I started sketching, this is probably my very first travel sketch.)

Eight years ago today, I began drawing – or more accurately, I began a drawing habit. Each year on this anniversary, I commemorate the day by writing a retrospective post about things I’ve learned or experienced. (If you missed them, here are links to past anniversary posts: 2018, 2017 – part 1, part 2, part 3 [I had so much to say that year that I needed three posts to say it all!], 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.)

6/30/12 St. Anthony of Padua Church,
New Bedford, Mass. (another early travel sketch)
Becoming a sketcher changed my life in many ways – especially in how I travel. Compared to before I began sketching, I take fewer photos now when I travel and spend more time observing and sketching. It means I see fewer attractions and “must-see” sights – but I experience whatever I see more deeply and fully. Even when I’m not sketching, I am observing like a sketcher, which means I see more. And later at home, the sketches bring back so many more memories and sensory perceptions than photos ever do – the single-most important difference that sketching has made to my travels.

Whenever participants gear up for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, social media groups buzz with discussions about what to bring, how much to bring, what to carry it all in, potential TSA issues with inks and paints, leaky pens on planes, and many other questions related to travel sketching, so I know it’s a topic that is on many sketchers’ minds.

For this year’s retrospective, I thought I’d be more practical than philosophical and write about what I’ve learned specifically about travel sketching. I’ve already mentioned some of this information in posts I wrote immediately following major trips (I learn more each time I travel), so this will serve as a consolidation of thoughts and ideas that continue to serve me well.

Pre-travel prep:

I empty this water spritzer before getting in the
TSA line.
Tools, materials and TSA: Perhaps I’ve become complacent over time, but the only prep I do to my sketch kit before I fly is to empty my water spritzer. I used to empty my waterbrushes, but they have never been questioned, so I haven’t bothered in years. I don’t use watercolor paints anymore, but when I come home from every symposium, my carry-on bag contains numerous tubes of paint (and last year a bottle of ink) that I have received in my swag bag, and I never bother to put them in my plastic bag of “liquids and gels.” Of course, I wouldn’t carry a pencil-sharpening knife through TSA (but for that matter, I don’t carry a knife in my bag at home, either).

Tools, materials and altitude: A lot of people seem to worry that their fountain pens will explode with ink from the change in pressure at high altitudes. Early on, heeding advice I heard online, I made sure all the pens were full of ink, not partially empty, because apparently the expanding air inside a pen’s cartridge is what causes potential leaks. As additional precaution, I wrapped them all in paper towels and kept them in a sealed plastic bag. Time after time, I never saw evidence of leakage, so I have stopped taking either of these precautions. I have never experienced a fountain pen leak on a plane, ever, nor a leak from brush pens that use fountain-pen-like cartridges (such as Pentel Pocket Brush Pens, shown below).

Fountain pens and pens like this with cartridges are fine on planes and at high altitudes.

Pens like these at left might cause problems at high altitudes.
The one altitude precaution I would still take is with brush pens that have refillable reservoirs that are squeezed to dispense the ink (such as Pentel Color Brushes and Kuretake Brush Writers, shown at left, which are a favorite at life drawing). Years ago on an early travel experience that included sketching, I had a messy incident with this type of brush pen. After that, whenever I flew or was planning to drive to high altitudes, I wrapped the pens thoroughly in paper towels and then put them into sealed plastic bags. When unwrapped, they always showed evidence of leakage, and usually when the cap was removed the first time, ink blorped out, so the prep was essential. Lately I use this type of brush pen only at life drawing, but if I were to fly with one, I would still take this precaution.

Sketch kit contents: My general recommendation is this: Bring only materials and tools that you are already comfortable with* and reach for regularly when sketching on location at home. Although it may be tempting to bring a lot of new materials to experiment with while you are inspired by new environments, travel almost always involves tighter time constraints than usual (travel companions with other interests; so many other things you want to see) and other unpredictable conditions. Learning to use a new material is something to do in the comfort of your own home or when you have plenty of time at your neighborhood park.

My everyday-carry Rickshaw bag has sketched with me on
four continents.
Sketch kit bag: How to carry it all? I like to use the same everyday-carry bag I use at home. All the contents are in their usual slots, pockets and compartments, so there’s nothing to learn or get used to. And the best way to find out if you are bringing too much is to put that filled bag on your back or shoulder and walk around your neighborhood for at least a few hours. A bag you carry only from your car to your neighborhood park will feel very different after walking all day with it.

Use a bag that is as slim against your body as possible. Walking on the Las Ramblas on my first full day in Barcelona, the Nomadic Wise Walker messenger bag that I had purchased for the trip (and even took out for a dry run in Seattle) was a disaster: People constantly bumped into this bulky bag. I immediately reconfigured my entire sketch kit, made do with a tote bag that drove me crazy, and the Wise Walker stayed in my hotel room the rest of the trip. (See the link above for more info about that debacle.) Even if you are used to walking in busy cities, old European streets tend to be narrow. 

While traveling, I carry only one thin
signature of paper at a time.
Sketchbooks and paper: This sketch kit essential deserves special mention because I have been astounded by the number of sketchbooks some symposium participants bring – and lug around all day! Paper is generally the heaviest, bulkiest part of your sketch kit; it needs to be minimized as much as possible. Make a realistic estimate about how many sketches you are likely to make for the duration of your trip and bring only enough paper to accommodate that estimate. (How do you estimate realistically? More on that later.*)

You may recall that I went through some paper angst shortly before I left for the Netherlands. After committing to Stillman & Birn Zeta paper by stitching several signatures that I had planned to take, I started having doubts. I hemmed and hawed a bit, but I knew that to be less than satisfied with my sketchbook paper wasn’t going to ruin the trip. And it didn’t.

More materials: If you have plans to bring a bunch of supplies but not carry them daily and just keep them in your hotel room “just in case,” you might as well leave them at home. For many trips, I brought along a small pad of watercolor postcards with the intention of making sketches to send to a few friends. But once I arrived, I always left the postcard pad in my hotel room, thinking, “Well, I’ll do it… but not today.” Of course, I never made any postcard sketches. During my recent trip to the Netherlands, I still had the good intention of making those postcard sketches, but this time I carried the pad in my everyday-carry. I happily made three and gave them away! The moral of the story: If you don’t carry it every day, it won’t get used. Leave it at home.

At your destination:

Make small sketches: One of the most useful things I learned in the Netherlands was to make more thumbnail sketches. Maybe “thumbnail” is not an accurate term; I don’t mean preparatory sketches to help me plan compositions (though I did learn about the value of that kind of thumbnail at my symposium workshops). I just mean small sketches (no more than 3 inches). Making small sketches allowed me to cover much more sketching ground in the same length of time. Instead of hoping to find 30 or 60 minutes for a full-page sketch, I could squeeze a 5- to 15-minute sketch into any pocket of time I happened to have – and I had many. And during Amsterdam’s heatwave, I couldn’t stand to be in the heat for much longer than a few minutes at a time, so small sketches were essential.

Small sketches in Amsterdam.
Appease your travel companions: Unless you’re traveling alone, balancing time with your non-sketching companion is always a necessary and important consideration. After a blog reader asked me a few years ago what my spouse is doing while I am sketching on all of our travels, I wrote a whole post on this subject. I’m fortunate that Greg has compatible interests (he’s a photographer), and we are comfortable doing our individual thing even as we travel together. But we each make compromises and find balance so that we both get what we want out of our travels.

I also wrote another post about how I managed to sketch with family members at the Minnesota State Fair three years ago. I won’t rehash all of that here (please read those posts if you’re interested), but the key is speed. And making small sketches is faster than making large sketches.

Finally, here’s my most important suggestion of all: To have the best travel sketching experience possible, sketch on location regularly when you’re not traveling. 

Thoughts about two people come to mind. One was an acquaintance who contacted me several years ago because she knew I was a sketcher. Planning a trip to Italy, she wanted to start making sketches in her travel journal and asked for suggestions. After discussing the basics of tools and materials, I asked if she was sketching already, and she said no. (“Nothing at home inspires me. . . it’s traveling that inspires me!”) I encouraged her to get out as much as possible before her trip and pretend she was in Italy, just to get her feet wet before landing in Rome. I don’t think she heeded my advice; she didn’t do any sketching in Italy.

The second person is a woman I met in a workshop during the Amsterdam symposium. During an exercise, she told me that even though she was surrounded by beautiful buildings and canals that she wanted to sketch, she felt “paralyzed.” Chatting with her further, it became clear to me that she had not done much urban sketching on her own before the symposium; she had hoped that the inspiring surroundings, workshops and the presence of other sketchers would be the impetus she needed to begin.

To be ready to sketch in Varenna . . .
As with my first acquaintance, I think that the time to begin travel sketching is long before one arrives at the destination. Practicing at home, even if you’re not particularly inspired by familiar streets and buildings, is the only way to gain confidence and know enough about your own sketching habits and needs to be ready to sketch while traveling. *To estimate how many sketchbook pages you’re likely to fill on your trip, you have to know how many sketches you typically make in an hour or two at your neighborhood park. *To be able to limit your sketch kit to only materials you’re already familiar with, you have to practice enough to become familiar with them. When you already know how much weight and bulk you can comfortably carry on your local sketch outings, choosing a bag and supplies is a non-issue. The more you sketch on location in familiar territory, the easier it will be to sketch anywhere.

. . . I sketch a lot in Maple Leaf.
Ultimately, travel sketching is no different than any other kind of on-location sketching. But as I’ve learned the past eight years, it takes a lot of sketching in Maple Leaf to be ready to sketch in Rio de Janeiro or Kyoto or Amsterdam. This post summarizes what I’ve learned so far. I look forward to all that I’ll continue learning each time I travel.

Here are other posts about what I learned in Barcelona, Brazil and France.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...