Sketch Everything, Everywhere and all the time

I may hang a few ‘last century’ paintings and drawings of mine at my upcoming exhibition. I want to show viewers where I started from.
This afternoon I rooted through a box of ancient sketches and memories.

I was reminded of the joy and the importance of sketching everything, everywhere and all the time. It’s a habit I had as a student and later as a young mother.

Marxism and Leninism Philosophy class in Berlin. 1974. ©Flora Doehler

Those were the pre-digital camera days when the cost of film and developing made picture-taking a rare event and encouraged drawing.

“Hurry up mom. My legs are cold.” 1984. ©Flora Doehler

Last week I blogged about how artists can build skills, but forgot to mention this one: The opportunity to sketch everywhere is always available. I remember so clearly gathering with other students around my favourite art teacher, Audrey (Hosie) Garwood while she showed us how to sharpen a charcoal pencil. She said:
“You know, if you learn how to properly sharpen a pencil, you’ll never be bored. Even in a waiting room you won’t be bored. You can sketch the people around you and learn more about drawing.”

My friend in Toronto, artist Barbara Muir, does just that and posts her waiting room and restaurant sketches along with her vibrant paintings. I’m impressed by the power of a sketch to capture the spontaneity of a moment in time.

When I look back at my old sketches, they bring back so much for me. They recall the day, the feeling, and the emotion of the moment. I have replaced drawing with photo-taking but surely, there is room for both.

I ‘decorate’ the covers of my sketchbooks to find them more easily. I like using a spiral bound sketchbook because I can draw on a flattened page. And I prefer charcoal because I can draw with the charcoal stick and then use a piece of tissue or cloth to rub the marks around. and get lots of contrast.

Son and Mother, 1995. ©Flora Doehler

Like any skill, sketching  takes practice, practice, practice. At art school we were forbidden to use erasers so that we wouldn’t get hung up about the perfect line. This kept the drawing loose. Sketching is about spending more time looking at the subject than at the page.

Evening in the dining tent, Cameron Lake, 1994. ©Flora Doehler

Here is a fun webpage with links to lots of drawing exercises for all levels. 

Student living in Berlin, German Democratic Republic, 1973. © Flora Doehler.

And here is a detailed article packed with information and links about How to Draw Better.

It was fun for me to look through these drawings and a good reminder about the importance of drawing. But now it’s time to finish up my paintings in time for my show!

2 thoughts on “Sketch Everything, Everywhere and all the time

  1. Hi Flora,
    Thanks for mentioning me. I do draw whenever I can, and love your drawings so much. And of course I love your paintings.
    I like to use a pen because it makes me decide what the line’s going to be, and that’s helpful.
    This is a wonderful blog, and I am moved by your pictures of the family.



  2. Your sketching inspires me Barbara. Btw….there are huge fluffy clouds moving fairly fast outside right now. We have a rare blue sky. It reminds me of one of your paintings. You’ll have to show me how to do that someday. ❤ xo


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