A couple days ago, my aunt was looking at my work and she said that she can’t draw like that, but she wants to. Now aunts come in all shapes, sizes, and wills. This aunt is artistic, independent, hilarious, well traveled, forthright and retired. She wants to spend a whole year traveling Europe and she’ll do it. I could not understand what was standing in her way.
I hear it all the time, “I can’t draw.” It is something adults will often say when they mean “I can’t draw like that and I don’t care if I ever learn.” That’s cool. We can’t all do everything. We certainly can’t do everything all the time. However, some of you actually mean “I want to draw, but I don’t feel like I have the capacity or talent to be able to.”
I believe that you just need to start practicing. It takes time and my own artistic path is in its infancy. So if you always wanted to draw/paint/write/whatever here is the advice I give:
1. Pick one thing to do over and over. I kept drawing bunnies for several months and you know what? I got better. My bunnies started to look less stupid. They took on little personalities and they made me laugh. I didn’t have to waste time deciding what to draw. I just did it and with limited time in the evenings I was still able to make headway. Liz Steel warms up by drawing her coffee and tea. What would you draw every day?
2. Don’t get hung up on the materials. One day I’ll take my own advice. Use what you have. You don’t need the perfect art supplies. In fact less is probably better.
3. Share with others. You are going to need encouragement and advice. My husband will look at my stuff, but the 6 year old will give me more feedback. I enjoy the network of Urban Sketchers around the world. Also participating in a class will give you the support you need too. There is always social media.
4. Try to listen to only one voice at a time. I am always checking out 3 cookbooks at a time or 3 how-to-draw books at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick one teacher or one guidebook to start with. When you’re done with that then look for a new perspective. Remember that this is supposed to be fun. Actually practicing the art is more important that learning from a book how to do it the “right” way.
5. What went well? This is a great phrase to ingrain in your thoughts. Always look for the things you like about your work. Don't dwell on all the things you did wrong.
I’ve got below 131 bunnies I drew and characterized before I started on the bunny clipart I made this spring. I had a blast and it was a great way to spend my winter. My family, while supportive, weren't quite sure why I was just painting another bunny.
This ink and I have been together since the beginning. I love it for its amazing ability to stay put when doing a watercolor wash over the top. You will need to be comfortable doing your lines in your sketch in a dark blurple... and that just isn't for everyone.
I went looking for something a little more neutral. It took me a long time to find a black that works just as well (deAtramentis Document Ink Black). I don't feel like Noodler's Ink offers a black that doesn't smudge or run a little when wet. Noodler's 54th Massachusetts is the closest to black that meets this criteria. Some folks think that Lexington Gray is waterproof enough. I disagree.
Working on these fish, I actually started with ink on wet. After the fish were all dry, I went in with watercolor and all the Kung Te-cheng ink stayed put beautifully.
Noodler's Ink comes in at an amazing price point and I love that Nathan Tardif is a small batch quirky sort of fellow. I almost have a full dozen of his ink bottles. Kung Te-cheng and many others have great archival and bulletproof properties as well. Bulletproof in the case of his ink means that it is forgery proof. So this is some serious ink.
It is an ink that likes to be used in a pen. Aside from when it's in my TWSBI Eco, I need to use it daily otherwise it can be a bit hard to get it going. I've never had it ruin a pen, but I hear it is one that is harder to clean out.
It is absolutely urban sketching season. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and I even saw a troop of red sequin clad line dancing women in the wild. I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a sketch of them.
My sister and I didn’t have an agenda when we set out. Our first stop was the quiet little Wicks Lake. We opted to not stay and sketch though because I struggle to make an interesting sketch of just trees, water, and sky.
We landed in downtown Gig Harbor which was bustling with activity. I originally thought I’d sketch one of the many boats, but after setting down at a table, we both tried to tackle this Fishermans Memorial statue. Before today I couldn’t have told you this statue existed. Urban sketching has a way of making you “see” things that have always been there.
I've worked sketching into a lot of other outings this spring. When the kids are along the sketches are frequently done quickly. Even a quick sketch is good practice and a nice way of making a memory.
The Olympic Peninsula is beautiful and the Sequim area with the Dungeness Spit is a short walk down to the water. It was a long walk for the kids and perhaps a mistake to take it without the stroller, but I still had a bit of energy to do this quick sketch in the wind while the kids checked out the water.
I need to go to Port Townsend again. There are so many interesting buildings that I could fill several weekends sketching them! I didn't even get to sketching the boats in the large boat yard.
Closer to home we have a lookout/cement tower that takes in the Port Orchard Marina and the Sinclair Inlet. This day the weather dripped on my sketch, but I'll have to go back on a sunny day and try to capture the view of the Olympic Mountains.
This view of the Manette Bridge is a short foot ferry ride and a twenty minute walk away from the lookout spot pictured above. Not pictured in the below illustration is the amazing Larry and Kristi's Bakery. The spot I sketched from is across the roundabout from them and they do a vegan maple bar just right! The bright blue of the water is actually a bit of Liberty's Elysium fountain pen ink.
Manchester offers views of the Space Needle and the ferries that travel there. We haven't been to the needle for a while and I can't wait to visit again once things settle down. I really like it when I don't color in my whole sketch with watercolor. It is hard to know when more is more or when less is more!
They even let me sketch at church!
What and where have you been sketching lately? Share in the comments!