The biggest takeaway from a first time sketcher

If you feel like sketching would be a non-intimidating way of getting your art on, then you're probably right. 

So I tried an experiment with my husband Joachim who hasn't doodled/sketched since he was in middle school. He told me how fascinating he found it to be able to see something and then duplicate it on a piece of paper. 

 

We started off with a cup and saucer.

"Erasers are for wimps!"

"Erasers are for wimps!"

 

 

 

I asked him if he wanted a pencil or a pen - "You can erase with a pencil I reminded him."

He answered: "Erasers are for wimps!" 

Here's his sketch after 5 minutes and no instruction. For someone who doesn't label himself as artistic, he thought it wasn't bad, but did find that his proportions were off.

 

At the beginning he didn't know where to start, so he just started to draw the most obvious line to him, which was the top of the cup.

 

Check out Joachim's cool title he gave his still life.

Check out Joachim's cool title he gave his still life.

After I gave him some tips, this is what his second cup looked like. This was more than 5 minutes, since he needed to implement my suggestions and get used to them, but it was still less than 10 minutes. Booyah!

Joachim liked the proportions better (but now thinks his saucer is too big), but what was obvious is that he took time to really look at what he was drawing and his lines were more intentional.

 

His biggest takeaway was: MEASURE, MEASURE MEASURE!

 

SPECIFICALLY AND IN ORDER:

  1. AT THE BEGINNING, MAKE THESE 4 MARKS ON YOUR PIECE OF PAPER.
  • highest point of your object (Our object: cup and saucer (together).)
  • lowest point of your object
  • very right point of your object
  • very left point of your object

This made him feel secure and not lost. He had parameters he could work with and got the main proportions in the ballpark.

      2. DIVIDE UP YOUR OBJECT INTO SMALLER SHAPES AND MAKE MORE REFERENCE POINTS

  • from top to bottom: opening of the cup, body of the cup, saucer height
  • from left to right: left part of the saucer, body of cup, right side of saucer
  • measure enough marks so that you can connect them (some people need more, some people will need less - it's a very personal thing.)
  • compare distances to one another (example, the opening of the cup compared to the body of the cup - is the opening almost a 1/4 of the body of the cup (if you look at it from top to bottom).

 

      3. IMAGINE THE HOUR HAND OF A CLOCK WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE DIRECTION OF THE LINES

  • 12 or 6 o'clock would be an hour hand that goes straight up and down (it's a vertical line.)
  • 3 or 9 o'clock would be an hour hand that's a horizontal line.
  • Now look at the arrows that I drew on the cup. What time would that line be on the left side of the cup? Joachim thinks it would be 11:30. Do you agree?
All shapes are composed of different directions and different distances of lines. 

All shapes are composed of different directions and different distances of lines. 

More AHA's and tips from Joachim:

  • It's easy to put yourself under pressure. You want to make it perfect the first time around or because you think you don't have enough time.
  • 5 minute sketches makes it easy to get started - everyone has 5 minutes! But once you're in it, don't see the 5 as a hard deadline - take a little more time if you need to.
  • I would've preferred a pencil, not for the erasing, but for the shading part.
  • Even after two sketches, you can tell that your eye is getting better at measuring distances.
  • If I want to get better, I just have to practice more.
  • Anybody can sketch. It's cool to produce a drawing that actually looks like what you wanted to draw.
  • Once you do it, you want to do it more and get better.

BIG PICTURE

Sketching is doable. The more you do it, the more sensitive your eye will become to the shapes in front of you. It is not rocket science, it's an enjoyable skill (like swimming, riding a bike, etc.) that can be learned and practiced. If you want to draw realistic objects, then measurements become key. Train your eye to compare distances between points, see where points intersect and which direction a line slants. After a while your eye will get comfy with shapes and you don't have to be so rigid with measuring every little thing. On the other hand, if you encounter proportion problems, you'll know how to correct them. Measure, measure, measure.

ACTION STEP

Have you tried sketching? Let me know your biggest struggle while sketching. Post it in the comments below or email it to me!! I read everything you write.

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
— Paul Klee