Tools and Subject Matter—Over a Life of Sketching

January 25, 2016


Above: A 10 minute sketch using a carbon-black ink felt-tipped brush pen sketch of Dick in the TV Room—focusing on Contours after a wearing day. Background: Montana marker. 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia Journal page spread. (If you can't read the text, you can see a typed version at the end of this post.)

I find that tools matter. Not in the sense that you can do a perfect drawing with one tool compared to another tool, but in the sense that some tools are better suited to your mood or the aspect you are trying to capture in your drawing.

If you want a vibrant and colorful sketch you’ll select color media. If you want something linear you’ll select a tool which gives you the quality of line you seek.

On this day, late in December, after experimenting with a variety of media in three on-going projects, it was a relief to pick up a thick felt-tipped brush pen and give myself up to lines, and the spaces between lines, and the delight of the contour.

I find that knowing what each medium will do for me brings an abundance of joy and fun into my sketching life.

And I create new options for myself—which is great, when you are still seeking a vocabulary that captures Dick’s eyebrows.

As the countdown to my 2016 session of Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public begins, I find myself looking forward to discussing my drawing philosophy with a new crop of students.


What Does It Say on the Journal Page?

I write a little anecdote that I hope encourages you to avoid drawing regret. Pick up a tool and draw, draw, draw, especially if something confounds you:

9:20 p.m. Dick just went up to bed. He’s tired and sick. When we finished this quick sketch I asked if he’d be up for another sketch with paint but it would probably be 40 mins. He said he wasn’t up for that. We chatted for a bit. I recalled how I had not sketched him much for years. Just that one, “near perfect rendering of one startlingly bright blue eye beneath a bristle of yellow-white blond on a background of your pale Irish skin.” We both laughed. It was the sketch I never finished. “I didn’t have enough yellow pencils,” I laughed, “there weren’t enough different yellow pencils in the world.” We laughed and laughed. “Then I didn’t even try to sketch you again until when…?” We both tried to remember. There were some rough scratchboard sketches for the Moment/Guy Series cards I used to send. That would have been 84-87 or 89. By then I was sketching the girls more. I didn’t start sketching him regularly again until a couple years ago—because I couldn’t get out to the zoo or life drawing because of shoulder issues. “I’m sorry I didn’t draw you more,” I said. “There have been facial structural changes, even in the last 2 years. Cheeks more sunken. You aren’t jowl-ly but there’s more here,” I said pointing to the edges of the chin. “Now on you’re [sic]* dad…that’s really developed.” I threw my head back and made a gurgling noise like a turkey. “But he’s 90,” I said. “94,” corrected Dick smiling. I’m glad I’m drawing him more now. It’s almost like a comforting ritual…And a great way to fill up the last pages of the year.


    • Dana
    • January 25, 2016

    I love this Roz. The tenderness of a long term relationship… urging us all to live and honor each and every day.

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