Drawing every day: a doddle or a drama?-Diversity is the key

When I first started drawing very regularly in 2013/14 I set myself a task to be drawing every day within 6 months. I managed that and at the time, well, until recently, I had done that. I was often doing several drawing courses, e.g. Craftsy, on-line sessions like Sketchbook Skool etc. It didn’t seem so hard. There was a variety to draw and there was direction.   But as time went on, I got my own direction, my own commissions and yep, my own pressures! Bigger (I started with A5 sketchbooks but now I usually use A4 or bigger, paper or sketchbooks (a topic for another blog!), more detailed, more text, …more time…It was a treadmill and I got the impression that If I stopped, I might never start again!

Then about a month ago, I did stop! I got flu, I couldn’t hardly lift a pencil never mind draw with one. For quite a few days I didn’t even think about drawing and when I did, I wasn’t really inspired to draw. I got to thinking that, as an urban sketcher, I had perhaps got myself a little caught up with having to do a complete scene and out and about. This attitude is illogical! I have little books in my bag so that I can do quick captures on a bus or in a queue, -all good people practice and equally a drawing, I also do a lot of inside sketching, of the inside of places, or details, or still life etc. or just lettering, or a pattern…. All are equally valid subjects for a drawing. Oh, and being a bit of a perfectionist doesn’t help either! Of course a quick capture in 10-15 minutes is not going to be the same as a sketch created over several hours. It just isn’t. They are different things, for different purposes and with different outcomes. That, ironically, is one of the wonderful things about sketching, there is so much variety, of subjects, of approaches, of materials , which leads me to my next point…

Sketches Inside the house, getting over flu: (Moleskine watercolour A4 sketchbook (divided pages), watercolour, Tombow markers):



Diversity of materials for sketching is important here. Until recently I mainly used pen and watercolour, perhaps with some watercolour pencil over the top. This can restrict things a little, if you need to capture fast, if you are sketching in a crowd, etc. Using markers, crayons, pencils can work out better. If you are at home or in a less restricted situation (or are good at managing complex kit out and about), you could use a dip pen/bamboo pen/stick and ink etc.

Not much time this weekend so all done in 15 minutes or less: (tinted Stratmore softback sketchbook, pencil, crayon and fountain pen):



Here, are my 5 key tips (for myself and you too if you like!):

  • Sketch every day, but that doesn’t mean you need to do anything with it. Resist the pressure to post everything to the outside world! You don’t have to prove to others that you are a dedicated sketcher!
  • Recognise that the time you have may vary from 5 minutes to 5 hours and try to make the most of that by using materials and approaches in variety.
  • Have different sizes of sketchbook/paper and paper types available and think about dividing the page if it is too overwhelming
  • Match media to time and situation. Use simple and restricted media for those times where time is of the essence. E.g. pencils and crayons with tinted paper for quick sketching.
  • Jot down subjects for sketching when you think of them, that way, when you have a day when you don’t know intuitively what to sketch, you can use the list to help you.

And an extra one for luck: always always have fun and enjoy the process. If not, there was no point in it!

A sketch from this morning, inspired by the morning walk with my greyhound, with the sun coming up and lighting the front of the pub. I went back to capture it. 30 minutes plus: (tinted Stratmore softback sketchbook, pencil, crayon and fountain pen).


8 thoughts on “Drawing every day: a doddle or a drama?-Diversity is the key

  1. Oh, how interesting that you went through this, because I went through a very similar sequence of processes over the past few years! I’ve been drawing daily for about 5 years now, and for a while I put so much pressure on myself to make sure every daily sketch was a full-on “urban sketch” — color, showing context, a “story,” etc. But it was impossible to keep up, especially in wintertime! Eventually I realized that everything is good practice — simple still lifes, drawing from photos, small vignettes, even cartoons — they all “count”! I still sketch every day, but I allow myself a wide variety of subject matter and formats, and I’m much happier. And I’m learning more! Happy sketching, Liz — your work is always an inspiration!

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Tina and yes so interesting that we have such similar experiences and sure we are amongst a lot of others too! Yes, everything is good practice. I think it was Picasso who said ‘the most important thing is to do, and nothing else, be that as it may’!!!

  2. I’ve been drawing daily since mid 2012, and I do agree with your tips. Something that I also find useful is to have drawing materials everywhere – I have stuff in my car, in my desk at work, in all my bags so if a moment comes along I can take advantage of it.
    I have found social media projects like #drawingugust helpful – feeling part of a community can be motivating.
    Glad your feeling better,

    1. Yes I guess some sketchers like to leave materials everywhere and that is a useful tip. That’s never really worked for me though as I like to be working with the same set of materials so I have a sketchbag that is always with me! i.e. no handbag!! That is a very good point about social media projects-forgot to mention those so thank you for raising! I too have found those very very useful like Inktober etc. They are an excellent motivator.

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