Thursday, January 26, 2023

Did I Really Sketch Today?

1/3/23 Rainy in Maple Leaf.

Richard Johnson is well known for his many years of sketch reportage for The Washington Post. Literally working in the trenches of military combat, he exemplifies capturing life from direct observation on location. In an Instagram post covering US Marine Corp Operation Freezing Winds in Finland, Johnson says, “There is something far more real about a bad drawing attempted live, than a good studio drawing any day of the week.”

I enjoy using the wet, dark days of winter to experiment with color, composition or other elements by working with photos, comfy in my studio. After making peace with drawing from photos, I’ve done more than usual of this type of study in recent months, and I’m learning much from it. I don’t often take the time for that kind of study during the good-weather months when I’m too busy sketching outdoors.

1/11/23 Green Lake
By comparison, the tiny sketches I make on my fitness walks are often hasty scribbles captured before my hands go numb. I’m not in the trenches. And yet those scribbles always feel far more “real” to me than anything I do in the studio. If I’ve done nothing but draw from photos, I may have learned, yet I end the day wondering, “Did I really sketch today?”

1/11/23 Interstate 5 from Ravenna Blvd.

1/19/23 Roosevelt neighborhood

10/29/22 Kona Kitchen from Javasti Coffee, Maple Leaf

11/9/22 Green Lake neighborhood

11/9/22 trees at Green Lake

11/14/22 Green Lake

11/23/22 Maple Leaf neighborhood

11/25/22 Rainy at Green Lake.

11/28/22 Green Lake neighborhood

12/5/22 roofers in Maple Leaf

12/26/22 Trees wrapped in lights, Green Lake Village


  1. You are like me. I feel it is much more satisfying to sketch from life even if it is something small. Working from a photo doesn't really excite me much.

    1. I know -- I don't think I can remember seeing anything you've sketched from a photo! You're a drawing-from-life lifer! :-)


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