Why Sketch From Nature?

I don’t think I can say it much better than British artist Frank Brangwyn, but I’ll add my own thoughts, too.

“Get some paper and a pencil. Not a beautifully bound sketch book – they’ll be afraid to spoil the paper! I often sketch on the back of an old envelope. Fear is the first thing they must conquer. Go for sketching with courage. Regard it as fun – as a natural thing to do – not as a task. Suppose you do muck up a few bits of paper? Think how cheap the pleasure is compared to other amusements…You’re out on your own, facing nature with a few bits of cheap paper and a pencil.” (Frank Brangwyn interview by Percy Bradshaw in his book “Come Sketching”)

If you’re interesting in sketching but have no idea where to start, take Brangwyn’s advice. Plain copy paper held in a clip board will work just fine. Any standard pencil and eraser will do. Sketching is as much about the process as the result. Enjoy the former and don’t worry about the latter.

You can sketch anywhere…in your house or outside in your yard, your apartment balcony, parks, beaches, forests, deserts. You can draw the plants in your doctor’s office while you wait. The dog who’s hanging around at the feed store. I’ve sketched while my husband is driving as we travel down to the San Francisco Bay Area. That was a great exercise in visual memory and getting the essential shapes down fast.

Once again, the idea wasn’t to end up with a pretty, perfect picture, but simply to sketch because it’s something I find fun to do.

Animals are definitely more challenging than subjects, like trees, that don’t move. But I encourage you to try. A sleeping cat or dog is a great model. If they move, then just start another sketch. Zoos are great places to sketch and I visit them when I travel if I can.

Here’s a page of very fast sketches I did some years ago. The birds stayed in position, but I had less than a minute for the monkeys. In my tutorials you’ll learn how to make choices of what to sketch, how to see the important shapes and how to simplify, along with information on the various pens, pencils and brushes you have to choose from.

So please give it a try!

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