Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Art of Waiting: a sketchbook approach

There are two things I've realised.

1.) There's no point in waiting until I have enough time to sketch. That time will never come. It's up to me to fit it into my days.

2.) There's no point in getting frustrated with my drawing skills or hoping they will miraculously improve. The only way to get better is to do.

So with those two points in mind combined with this post by Roz Stendahl (which gives some great tips about how to go about drawing people discreetly), I've tried to integrate sketching more seamlessly into my days.

A small pocket-sized book and a handful of pens always come with me, and even if I only have a fleeting moment, I pull out the sketchbook and draw something. I've been trying to take this approach for a while, but recently I've been more intentional about it, and it's slowly becoming second nature.

I've found the best time for a super-quick sketch is when I'm waiting. Waiting for a coffee to arrive, waiting for an appointment, waiting and watching my kids' structured activities - swimming, gymnastics.

And because one of the things I struggle with most is sketching fast (I love nothing more than spending an hour or two on one drawing, which is not in the least bit practical, and if I tell myself that this is the only way I can draw, then I'm sabotaging my chances of improving) and the other thing I struggle with is drawing people, I've decided to make these two things the focus of my regular sketching practice.

Already I feel some improvement in my approach: a lack of hesitation before beginning, more confidence in restating lines when they didn't come out right in the first place (instead of giving in to that feeling of defeat when it all goes horribly wrong).

I've been experimenting a little with media - nothing too messy. Just simple pen, sometimes colour. Maybe a waterbrush over soluble ink.

And it doesn't matter if it's not quite right. I just turn the page and start a new drawing. It's not meant for an art gallery!

One thing I've noticed is that I am definitely getting better at drawing the back of people's heads! Now to muster up the confidence to draw faces and people in profile more often. Yikes!

But I can tell you that by sketching during wait times I'm very slowly, but surely, clocking up more drawing hours.


  1. There are some great sketches in this post. I have been really slack in sketching outside the house lately and I can tell the difference - better clock up the hours as well - thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Haha. Great post. This reminds me so much if when I was pregnant and going everywhere by bus and going to loads of doctors and hospital appointments. I think I have practically a whole Moleskine of the backs of people's heads. when I started my portraiture course I progressed to trying to draw people in profile as they still can't see you. I also wasn't great at sketching fast but I definitely found that clandestine sketching people sped me up. If nothing else it teaches you how to draw a really good ponytail! X

  3. lovely selection of sketches, well done for not waiting any long to simply get sketching! :)

  4. This was such a nice reminder to me of why it's so important to not think about things too much - if we want to get better at something, we just have to get into it! It looks like your drawing is really improving - those are some pretty attractive backs of heads ;)
    Love your colour experiments too. x

  5. Yes I agree ! Isn't it amazing when you come to that realization that you can make time work for you.
    I am at the same stage as you. Lots of capturing stances and also back of peoples heads. I've chosen my seat on the bus so that I could sit behind a fascinating hairstyle, and kept my fingers crossed they were travelling all the way into the city.
    I also need to practice faces. I will re-read Roz's page. Thanks for the link

  6. Oh wow, these are amazing, Jodi! I can't draw for shit, but appreciate those who can! Kim x

  7. Can you show a picture/make a list of the supplies you keep with you as you go about your day? It sure seems you have a lot of different materials to sketch!

  8. Yes! Saying yes a lot while reading this post :) I'm catching up, a little, & am so glad I did :) Some stuff I need to hear, and some confirmation ;)
    I love the way you tell yourself to do this, and wade outside your comfort zone & that you apparently know how to stick to it ;) Good going, awesome going - keep going :)