Sketching on holiday.

I thought I’d write this post, as I know a lot of my students always intend to sketch while they are on holiday. But as most of us know our sketchbook, pencils and ‘travel’ paints just stay in our case!

Over the past few years I have made a point of sketching every day (almost) of my holidays. Over the summer (during my break from teaching) I challenge myself to sketch every day, no matter what. The first few days (sometimes weeks) are terrible, but once I get into it I start to sketch more and more. Some days, at the end or the Summer holidays, I can pick my sketchbook up even before I’ve had my first cup of tea!

During other times of the year, I usually take short breaks around the UK. So this is the time I sketch more animals and landscapes.

This Easter break I went to Wales for 5 days and walked parts of the Pembrokeshire coastal path.

I took a selection of sketching tools. But one thing I did do is take a drawing board and paper. Which was only used on one day (the last day on the way home, sketching a field, while the car was parked in a car park!).

oil pastel sketching

There is definitely a difference between going out sketching; drawing board, paper, paints, water, brushes etc. And going for a walk and sketching when you have a rest; sketchbook, graphite pencil….Inktense pencil, water-brush, a couple of coloured pencils.

Oil pastel sketch

I know some artists don’t like to take reference photos, staying true to the sketch and the moment. I try to take a lot of photos, especially if I’m just quick sketching, as these photos give a better idea of colour compared to the limited range of pencils I’ll have with me. But there is an advantage to working with a limited palette or even just monochrome. It really makes you look at where the tones are, how you can depict the blue of the sea, when you’ve only brought sepia pencils!

Sometimes photos are a good reference back to the true colours or scale, sometimes your ‘in the field’ adjustments are just the push you need to explore new ideas……. Sometimes you just skip that page when you look back through your sketchbook.

The act of sketching is the key for me, the practise and refining my skills.

Really think about why you are sketching. This might sound odd. But the answer ‘ I’m an art student / artist so I’m supposed to do it and look arty’, isn’t the way to go.

London sketch

Are you trying to capture the mood/colour/a specific element of the scene? Then having a good set of sketching materials and the time to dedicate to the work is what you need.

Or do you just want to practise drawing and build up your skills? Then you can do this any/every day, with nothing more than a pencil and rubber. This is a great reason to fill a sketchbook with good, rubbish, interesting, messy, precise, clear, wobbly drawings.

seaweed sketch

If you’ve never regularly sketched then this is the time to start! There are lots of drawing challenges online. Some set you a task each day giving you a word prompt #30daysartchallenge, some are month long challenges where you post whatever you’ve drawn each day #AsketchyFeb or using a specific medium #inktober. Others include #Illustration Friday #the100dayproject #dailyart #365daysofart.

Or you could set your own challenge:

Draw something each day for a week/2 weeks/a month.

Sketch for 15 minutes 3 times a week.

I like to suggest to students this one, if they want to get into a regular rutine of sketching:

Week 1 ; sketch anything (even doodle) for 2-5 minutes 4 times this week. (4 different days or if you have to 4 different times on Sunday!)

Week 2: up one of the numbers. 5-10 minutes of sketching 4 times this week. Or. 2-5 minutes sketching 6 times this week.

Week 3: up the other number, 5-10 minutes sketching 6 times this week.

Week 4: hopefully now you should be finding it easier to set that little bit of time for yourself and it should be easier to find something to sketch. Sketch for 10 minutes or more every day.

Week 1 is the hardest as you find it hard to find something to sketch. But remember it can be anything! Your coffee cup, the door handle, the cat, a flower in your garden, or just a doodle. The key is to push yourself to do it, and then one day you’ll find it’s easy.

Keep sketching and 'Blog you' later.......

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