Monday, February 21, 2022

Ten Minutes: My Choice

2/16/22 Maple Leaf neighborhood

 A recent morning walk took us down a street we sometimes drive but rarely walk. On foot instead of speeding by in a car, I noticed several houses with charming details, like this one with the arched portico (I hope that’s the right architectural term). I started to make a mental note to return when it was sunny and warm so that I could take my time to make a proper color “portrait” in my larger sketchbook. But I realized that by then, the tree would be leafed out, obscuring much of the house. I decided to stop on the spot. I might come back to do a color portrait someday anyway, but at least I had captured the 10-minute version.

I didn’t think about it while I sketched, but when I had finished, I found myself feeling strangely emotional. There was a time when I would have been so intimidated by drawing Architecture (with a capital A), which involves scary stuff like perspective, angles and parallel lines, that I would have either avoided it or waited until I had lots of time – an hour or more – before attempting a house like this.

It wasn’t even very long ago. In 2018 when I had just begun my series of Maple Leaf architectural styles, I was past the intimidation stage, but I still allowed plenty of time because I wanted to measure the angles and proportions, block in the main shapes carefully and measure again. I couldn’t draw a house in 10 minutes, even if I wasn’t intending to make a portrait. Although by then I enjoyed the challenge, drawing houses was never easy.

In fact, it still isn’t; this quick pencil sketch was still challenging. But somewhere along the way in my 10-year drawing journey, I left behind the feeling that architecture was somehow special or different from any other subject. There’s nothing special about houses. It won’t be as accurate, but I can draw one without measuring just as I can draw people in public without gauging their proportions. An amaryllis can be sketched gesturally in a short time or as a carefully observed botanical study. A building, a human body, a potted plant, a tree, a car, a trash can – everything requires close observation to draw accurately, but any subject matter can also be drawn quickly and gesturally. It’s a different intention and approach.

Walking home after the sketch, I felt joy in the liberation: Houses or house plants; 10 minutes or 60: It was my choice. The more I draw, the more choices open to me.


  1. Looking you sketch makes me feel very peace in soul (in an unexplainable way)
    I often choose drawing something to release stress.
    sometimes, i make sketch on paper or choose some online apps from here

  2. How soothing and reassuring! I still tighten up over proportions. But if I persist, I hope to get to the relaxed state that you describe. Thank you for all the inspiration :-)

    1. I wish I could offer some concrete advice! But you will get there because you practice so regularly and often!

  3. I've never quite understood the idea that some things are hard to draw while others are, supposedly, easier. I find them all equally hard (grin). The truth is, what Cathy Johnson used to say whenever anyone talked about this issue is true..."it's just shapes." When you stop drawing thing and just draw shapes, I think the hard/easy differences disappear.

    1. Yes, that's it exactly! All just shapes. And I agree -- everything is still hard. ;-)


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