Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Making it Look Easy

8/6/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood
8/6/20 CenturyLink worker in the rain

After sharing a few small sketches I had made while out on my neighborhood walks, a friend on social media commented that “simple is so hard to do . . . . you make it look easy.”

It was one of the most appreciated compliments I had ever received about my sketches, and it was because it was related to one of the qualities I most admire in the work of others and that I aspire to: The appearance of “easy.”

I have talked occasionally about the concept of “looseness” and my belief that it takes a long time to grow into looseness. Liz Steel recently discussed the concept on her blog. Admiring Liz’s naturally loose style, her students often ask how they can become looser. She has thoughts about her own interpretation of looseness, but through discussions with her students, she has discovered that the concept can be defined in many ways.

8/3/20 willow tree, Maple Leaf neighborhood
All of this got me thinking again about what “looseness” means to me. I think looseness is the appearance of not requiring much effort – because all the effort has come in the years of work that preceded it. Even now, after nearly nine years of practice, almost nothing I draw feels effortless, but I want to make it look that way.


  1. I am delighted by your use of spot color! This is what I was thinking of when I commented about carrying one or two dual-color pencils a while back.

    These sketches reminded me of some of Kiyohiko Azuma's most evocative work - https://www.designstack.co/2015/09/architectural-urban-sketches-and.html

    1. Thank you for your comment, Alan! In fact, I'm back to doing some value studies with two colors... coming up soon! Thanks also for the link to Azuma's work -- I wasn't familiar with him. Wow, I'm certainly not worthy of comparison with those beautiful architectural drawings, but I appreciate your thought!


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