Chris, on our staff, told me about his project last year to do one sketch a day. At first I thought, “Heck, how hard is that?” Then I tried it. After letting a couple of days get away the coin dropped and I recognized that it’s a very tough challenge. Like New Year’s resolutions to work out every day, to improve your bass guitar playing, to run three times a week, or to learn French with an app on your phone, this is about setting aside minutes every day for practice. Daily practice gets you ready for the race. One-a-day sketches will not be not 365 masterpieces. Like playing musical scales or making time for a walk or a run, hitting the minutes is the goal. The first week or so you may just be doing a few minutes each day before you are fatigued but you get stronger. The trick is trying for one more minute the next day and then more after that.
My goal is to get in 25-30 minutes of drawing practice each day and thanks to the realization that this is training, not the race, I’m finally doing it.
Here’s how I got a good start; toned paper. One of our regular customers came in to pick up a new pocket sketchbook and was showing me his cartoons and caricatures. He draws people he sees outside and in the skyways in his grey-tinted book and uses a white chalk or marker to punch things up. Then a couple of days later I saw a documentary on the Civil War that used illustrations with black and sepia conte on kraft-color brown paper with a yellow ochre rubbed into the backgrounds to pop them out. It was simple and looked good. So I got a kraft color Stonehenge pad-a small-ish one, since I was working with pencils. To my regular assortment of regular pencils I added a white Pitt marker and made some fun little drawings. I’d do a sketch of random shapes or copy part of a picture from the newspaper and then fill the background with the white Pitt pen. The pop-out effect is like magic! A couple of days later I added a 30% grey Prismacolor colored pencil, then a cream Conte crayon, then a silver Gelly Roll ball pen. After using white in the backgrounds I started adding dots of white in textures then highlights. (I really like the Signo white pen for those.) Also check out the amazing sketches of Don Colley for more inspiration.
The sketch pad is on the kitchen counter and it is filling up because I am picking it up and doing my drawings every day.
The other thing I realized is that even though I started after to first of the year I’m not behind schedule. A year from when I started will be January 16th. If you see me in the store ask me how it’s going and let me know how your year of sketches is coming along.