Monday, February 13, 2006

Is Sketching your Hobby? Tips from an Artist

I have never been able to draw anything worth beans! If I would need to draw a house today, or a person, I know that it would be the same pattern I used when I was a kid. My daughter, however, did not follow my poor example and enjoys drawing and all kinds of "artsy" things. These are some tips in her words that she would tell to others just starting in the hobby of sketching.

"I'm one of those people for whom drawing is a lifeline. I just can't be content unless I know my sketch pad and pencils are ready and waiting, should I have the urge. I have been drawing on a more professional level (i.e. without scratches and squiggles) since I was about 13, and am happy to say I've greatly improved. I can now look at the face of a dog or a wolf and know automatically what it is, whereas when I look at my drawings from the past, I scratch my head and wonder what I was trying to draw."

She continues: "One little secret: I love drawing animals, designing different colors and body shapes and adding great texture and detail, but I couldn't draw a simple human body to save my life. Portraits are not my forte. If you're an artist like I am, you've learned to deal with the fact that there are simply some things we can draw, and some things we can't."

Another word of advice is to store your artwork in a safe place: "I've tried consistently over the last few years to keep my artwork in a safe place, where barring a natural disaster it will rest in peace for the rest of time (except when I take it out to look at it!)

I have at least eight different scrapbooks and six different photo albums where my drawings and scrapbook pages are safely stored. I like to make sure my creations are all in the same area so I can grab one quickly if I want to lounge around and look back over my art. Make sure to always remember three things: (1) Always keep your albums and/or sketchbooks together; (2) Try to protect drawings inside glass or plastic so they don't bleed or fade (I myself use special picture frames to display some of my best work); and (3) Never eat or drink anything while you're looking at your drawings. Unfortunately I can attest that it is virtually impossible to clean grease or soda stains from your precious pages."

"We artists frequently need to step back and look for inspiration; when you're tired of drawing the same old expressions and the same old poses every time, you'll be surprised where you might find some ideas for new artwork. Be aware of the world around you and new ideas will constantly jump out at you.

Be prepared to spend quite a bit on colored pencils if that is the medium with which you are working. Cheap drawing tools simply will not give you the same finished product. One thing I have noticed is that my black and brown pencils - the ones I use most often - seem to disappear on a regular basis. If you can buy the colors separately (many art stores sell them this way) then decide which basic colors you will need most and be sure to buy enough of those."

"Don't use one huge piece of paper, draw one tiny drawing in the center, and discard the rest of the paper (Unfortunately I have been guilty of this a thousand times over). You can either use a small page to begin with (sketchbooks come in large and small sizes) or draw many figures on one page, thus eliminating the urge to be wasteful."

All of those tips are good ones and valid. I see the joy that sketching brings to her and I know that it means a lot to her. Often she will just be sitting somewhere and suddenly jumps up with an idea that she needs to sketch. When I see some of her drawings I often wish that I would have practiced more and paid more attention to drawing but I think I'll leave the artwork to her at this point. I would have to learn much too much to ever become as good as she is with it.