Sunday, August 2, 2020

Red is the New Black

Here’s the change I hinted at when I finished my black sketchbook: Red is the new black. This notebook was given to me by a friend who knows how much I enjoy sketching in red Field Notes Sweet Tooth notebooks. The color is similar, but it’s an A5 size, so I have enough room to make hand drawings at the same scale as the rest of my series. Best of all, I can now take advantage of the same feature that made me fall in love with Sweet Tooth in the first place: Red can be used as a strong mid-tone, so I can use both black for shading and white for highlights.

But the bigger change? Right is the new left! Way back in April when I had done only 23 hand sketches, I drew with my right hand as a novelty, but quickly switched back to my dominant left hand the next day. Since I’m in this series for the long run, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to continue making right-handed drawings daily until this red sketchbook is full.

My brain has gotten a lot of practice in proportion and form from the previous 132 sketches, so using my right hand is about physical training more than skill. Fine motor control and strength are its main weaknesses; it’s more like physical therapy than drawing practice.

I also learned from that April sketch that ballpoint was a poor medium choice because it requires a fair amount of pressure to make strong, dark marks. I’m now using the softest media I could find in my arsenal, such as pastel, charcoal and Conte crayon, which also smudge easily with little pressure.

So far, it’s slow going – literally. My left hand keeps wanting to grab the pencil out of my right hand: “Oh, gimme that – you’re so slow.” But this is exactly the new challenge I needed to keep this series going.

Oh no, I just realized I counted Day 135 twice!

I didn't skip any days... I just caught up on my
incorrect numbering!

A change of hands.


  1. Great idea to draw hands! Think I will start with using my dominant hand first though. Tina, do you usually draw with your paper at an angle? I have been drawing flat and I wonder if that can lead to distortion?

    1. I definitely think drawing flat can lead to distortion. Some urban sketching instructors recommend holding the sketchbook up straight (perpendicular to the ground) while blocking in the drawing to avoid possible distortion, especially with things like building perspective. But it helps with any subject.

  2. Thanks Tina! I always learn something here!


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