I’m Not Just Sketching Dogs

July 26, 2011

Above: Interior sketch made while I was in a waiting room. That head with the cowlick on the left page is the head of someone who was standing at the receptionist's counter for a moment. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy Pen in a handmade 8 x 8 inch journal (discontinued drawing paper); spread cropped for privacy.

It hasn't all been dog sketches over here. I do try to work on sketching architecture (interior and exterior) when I'm out and about on errands. I finished the above sketch just as I was called in for my appointment so I didn't get to put on any watercolor. I was counting on that to define the shadows cast by the multi-level ceiling.

My favorite part of the sketch: Those two "founders' portraits" over on the wall.

Dogs, birds, people, then interiors/exteriors. I think it's the odd angles and negative spaces that capture my attention.

How do you scan your environment for drawing subjects? The woman whose first drawing in Paris was of a pigeon wants to know…

  1. Reply

    Ooh, good question. I used to simply look for The Thing That Will Not Move. With experience, of course, it became evident that this quality alone doesn’t make for an interesting sketch. Now I would say I look in this order: things with faces (animals, birds, humans); man/nature interfaces (where hard lines and curvy nature come together) and indications of depth (where interesting angles provide opportunity for exploring a sense of the third dimension). I have to add, too, that architecture has become a little less interesting to me as the artist (though not as the viewer of other people’s art) because for me to be interested in a thing to draw, I tend to need to feel some connection with it. The most visually interesting buildings are often old churches and the like — which I might either have no feeling of connection to or might actually make me dwell on, um, anger issues while I’m drawing.
    Sorry for such a long answer. Like I said, it’s a good (and important) question. I’m eager to see what others say.

  2. Reply

    Karen, thanks for chiming in. I loved the detail in your response! I relate to your own need to relate, which is probably why I always start with birds!

  3. Reply

    Hmm, I think I scan for interesting patterns and weird angles first, no matter what I draw. Some sense of movement is good to, especially in architecture. People, plants and architecture/places are always competing for my no 1 favorite subject spot. I just can’t decide! My personal relation to the subject seems to matter on an abstract level more – for example I like to draw views with a lot of sky in them, but I’m not sure why exactly – am I attracted to the zigzag of skylines or the meaning the sky has for me? I don’t know.

  4. Reply

    Playinprogress, what you say about sky is very interesting. I’ve been looking at the sky more and more. I used to look at it from a weather point of view when I had dogs, because how the sky was had an impact on the tracking situation and I wanted to take everything into account. Lately I’ve been trying to look more at clouds from a sense of light and volume.

    I think there is something wonderful with views with lots of sky in them. There’s a lot of space and possibility.

    • LizzieBo
    • July 26, 2011

    I find this a very provoking question as a new sketcher. I’ve really had to think of this recently, and that alone as been very interesting. For now, instead of trying to frame a view, as I would with a camara, I am simply focusing on what actually draws my eye. It has had the result of putting all kinds of things in the center of my sketch, but that’s where I’m starting. Since I’m not concerned (at the moment) with composition, I’m coming up with some weird angles. I like the way this is making me conscious of where I’m gazing.

  5. Reply

    Human faces are what really draw me when I’m sketching, and next, the human body. I’m not so fond of architecture, because I’m so dreadfully shaky when it comes to drawing straight lines. I know I need to practice this more! Right now I’m trying to learn to compose sketch pages rather than just sketching in a jumble.

  6. Reply

    Maggie, I understand the attraction to faces. Good luck with your practice of architecture and composition.

  7. Reply

    LizzieBo, you’re describing an interesting process and if it is making you conscious of where you’re gazing I think you must be on the right track.

    • Carolyn
    • July 27, 2011

    Nice sketch! Love the lines of the hallway and ceiling, and how they draw the eye to the detailed shelves and table.

    I look for people who are holding relatively still and won’t notice me sketching them. My second choice is vegetation. Then chairs or tables, cars, etc. I’m not much inclined to do architecture.

  8. Reply

    Thanks Carolyn. I wish I hadn’t run out of time, because if you like the ceiling you would have loved the shadows I was going to paint in, which were way cool because of the different levels of drop down and such on the ceiling.

    Next time I’ll have to stop sketching people and go right for the building!

    I understand you scoping out folks who are stationary! At this particular waiting room there are always lots of people filling out lots of paperwork and you can count on them being fairly stable!

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