Wednesday, September 6, 2023

It’s All About the Process

8/16/23 Green Lake neighborhood

 “Sketching is a good practice for all ages and, surprise, it has nothing to do with the end result. It’s all about the process — a process that improves our general well-being.”

Well, duh. That’s how I felt reading this recent article on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s website, which points out six benefits of drawing. Nearing the 12th anniversary of my life as a sketcher, I have always found the process benefits of drawing to be self-evident. People who enjoy sketching for the sake of sketching – the pure experience and not the product that results – seem the happiest (benefit No. 5) with the habit, and they also seem to have an easier time forming the habit. Those who focus solely on results rather than process seem doomed to quit (I’ve seen it happen many times).

8/22/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood

One of the biggest benefits for myself is mindfulness (benefit No. 4). Sketching obviously requires attention and close observation of the subject, but the whole experience becomes a moment of focus. This instantly has a calming effect (No. 5), which is as therapeutic as yoga and meditation.

Nodding my way through the article, I disagreed only with one suggestion: “You don’t have to keep your artwork or show it to anyone else. Rip it up if you don’t like it.” Maybe this tip is helpful to those who are especially hesitant or intimidated by sketching. I don’t recommend it, though. Instead, keep the sketches, but tuck them away, and don’t look at them for a while. A year later, if you’ve kept up the practice, pull out those old sketches. You will be amazed and impressed by how much you’ve improved, even if you don’t feel like you have. It’s gratifying and instantly encouraging to see that progress, which wouldn’t be possible if you toss sketches.

(Incidentally, I wonder whose beautiful drawers full of Prismacolors are shown in the article’s leading image? Heart eyes emoji!)

8/23/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood
(This sketch was all about scaling -- showing the magnificent size of that tree!

8/26/23 Maple Leaf water tower

8/30/23 Roosevelt neighborhood

8/31/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood

9/1/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood


  1. The process is the important part, but the end result is important too both if it was a success or not. You can learn from it either way and the benefits are enormous.


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