Sketching on location -- making quick studies of a subject -- is a great way to develop and practice skills as well as record ideas for more complete painting or drawing. It's also a way to record the light and shadow patterns in a scene before the rapidly moving light source (sun) changes them, or make note of a particular color that a camera may not quite capture. For these reasons, many artists won't leave home without their sketchbooks.
Here are a examples of the different ways I've used such sketches in my art process.
|I lowered the horizon in this second sketch to see if I liked it better. I also adjusted some of the values.|
|In this example I tried three different compositions.|
|Here I tested ideas for a birthday card I wanted to paint for a friend. I liked the drawings on the bottom the best, so I added color, and then finally decided to use the stair concept for the card.|
|This was a value study for my three Japanese Teahouse watercolors.|
|In this sketch, I recorded the interesting edges of the plant.|
|This ultra-quick sketch captures the motion of the kangaroos.|
|This sketch focuses on the back-and-forth movement of the elephant's trunk and the twitching of his ears and tail.|
|Here I was trying to decide if this view of my living room would make a good composition.|
|Here's a painted sketch of the shadow shapes in a scene. I wanted to be sure to include these shadows in the final painting. The light and shadow in a scene can create framework that's an important part of the composition.|
|Here's another painted sketch of shadows only.|
Sketching doesn't have to be for a particular purpose, though. Sometimes I like to get together with other artists and sketch for fun. There are many opportunities to sketch in more organized ways. For example, Michele Cooper, who keeps a wonderful sketchbook, participates in the Sketchbook Project.
|Sketchbooks on display for the Sketchbook Project.|
Several other artist friends take part in Urban Sketchers, which is a group that gets together to sketch in various locations. Also, Catherine Gill hosts a weekly group called Art on Tap, where artists meet at a local pub three Monday evenings a month to sketch. Maybe I'll see you there!
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