Friday, September 10, 2021

15 Minutes

9/7/21 Ravenna neighborhood

USk Japan comes up with interesting and fun challenges to keep its members motivated and engaged. The admins also encourage members to talk about their processes when they complete a challenge. A recent prompt was to make a sketch in 15 minutes. In my little pocket-size Field Notes, I often make sketches that take no more than five or 10 minutes, but I never use color; they are always simple line drawings. However, I doubt I had ever made a sketch in that short a time using my usual A5-sized page. I looked for the timer on my phone’s clock. Game on!

For my first attempt (at left), I used the primary triad I have been using frequently, so neither the colors nor the composition was particularly challenging. The subjects I chose were the usual trees and parked car in a typical composition, so they required little thinking. With only 15 minutes, I did minimize details, and I skipped painting the sky, which would have required drying time. It felt too easy.

I decided to try another one – this time without color and with unfamiliar subjects that would require more thinking (below). My strategy was similar to how I approach life drawing: I started with big shapes, then continued to add more and more detail all over the composition simultaneously so that at any moment, when time was up, all parts of the sketch would have the same degree of being finished. (In life-drawing terms, I can’t start putting in eyelashes if the model’s limbs are not yet drawn!) All that life-drawing practice has taught me how to pace myself for whatever the time period is. This one was more challenging but also doable. It was a fun challenge!

9/7/21 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Anyone else game for a 15-minute sketch? Turn on your phone’s timer and give it a shot! 


  1. 15-20 minutes is my idea of a "quick sketch." I get frustrated with shorter time frames as the result is just too spartan and wonky for my tastes.

    1. I was surprised how much difference it makes to use a larger book. 5-10 minutes in a Field Notes is my idea of a quick sketch! ;-)


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