The season of heat here in Southern Utah is almost done. I am able to get an hour on the patio each morning as long as the shades are down and the fan is on.

During that hour I have been sketching.

Sketchbooks were a big part of my life as an art teacher. All my students started each unit of study, no matter what the medium(printmaking, ceramics, glass) ; with their sketchbooks. Sketchbooks help focus attention and turn that noisy left brain off.

I start sketching with a collection of ideas for sketchbook pages I collect on a Pinterest board. I have a basket of markers and several very sharp pencils. My sketchbook is small. Each day I work on a double page starting with a light pencil sketch. I trace the pencil lines with thin black markers and then erase the pencil lines. Next I add color.

I have new markers that act like watercolors. The tips are brushes. The set came with a water pen allowing me to paint water over a line to soften the effect. I also have markers with two tips and sets with a range of color values. These materials are organized  in a wire basket and separated with cans holding different pens.

Each of these page spreads included some text. Sometimes it’s a quote, but most often I just put down a short phrase. Drawing out different kinds of lettering is a great way to improve your drawing skills. Arranging the words on a page with an illustration is a way to practice making choices in your composition. 

Some of the barriers to drawing most people face are:

  • Unrealistic expectation of making something look real
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Endless erasing to get it just right
  • Wasting time searching for subject matter
  • Romantic ideas about how a “real” artist would sketch
  • Have an attitude of failure after a single session


You can avoid these barriers by:

  • Trying to copy an existing drawing. Drawing from life can be too much when you first start, but not using a visual reference is a mistake. 
  • Start with a single subject. Don’t over think the process. 
  • Add fillers to the page like words, or colors, patterns, etc...
  • Draw with a pencil using short light lines. Trace with a heavy pencil line or maker and erase the light lines. 
  • Realism is overrated. Seek out examples of illustrations that visually engaging but not complex


Don't judge yourself, just finish the page.

Repeat a process (draw, trace color) overtime and remember it’s not going into a gallery.

It’s just for you.

Until next time...