Sketching Warm Up—A Quick Approach

October 17, 2018
Quick warm up, using the same subject to synchronize the eye-hand-brain. Pentel Brush pen on the OLD Winsor & Newton Hot Press 90 lb. watercolor paper.

Just as it is important to do your daily exercises, go for your walk, ride your bike, it’s important to do your drawing warm up.

Here’s my favorite from the quick session as the shading lines worked well. I was slowing down just enough to be accurate.

These can be done very quickly. The sketches on the above page spread were done in less than 12 minutes. That’s how long it takes to make my breakfast noodles. And I had to stop before that to write my note, and start chopping the pepper so I could move on to the next phase of preparing my breakfast.

My point is that in a very short time indeed you can warm up your brain-eye-hand connection so that you start adjusting width (too wide on the far left), height (too tall and unrefined in shape in the second from the left), just right (center right), to playing with more shading (far right).

All you need is a three-dimensional subject you can turn in space, or walk around if it is large, so that you can experiment with different angles. And of course you’ll need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper or sketchbook.

Once you close your journal you finish cooking your breakfast, eat, and go on to have a really productive day—all synced up and ready for whatever visual fun the day presents.

Next time you put a pot of noodles on, pick up your pen and sketchbook. Get a bit of practice in.

UPDATE 10.17.18 at 7 p.m.

I didn’t think my breakfast of noodles would be so interesting. A couple people wrote in to chat about it. You can read my responses below in the comments. 

But in writing back to folks I realized I needed to make a couple points.

I’m very fortunate. I get to have the food that I want to buy. (There is a lot of good produce and other ingredients in Minnesota!)

Since childhood I’ve been making my rice for my own breakfast while my mom would make poached eggs for my dad. (She is an excellent cook and does a wonderful poached egg. It is delightful to watch her make them. And sometimes I would opt for that, but not often. I just love stir-fry too much. This is another side effect of being a Third Culture Kid.

Besides being fortunate is no secret that EVERYTHING in my life is pretty much organized around making it simpler for me to do my work. 

And it has been that way since I was a child—because my mom didn’t let me cook (except for the breakfast rice; and after school rice).

Also after that incident where I vacuumed the indoor potted cherry tree (because the blossoms kept falling and I was vacuuming every 10 minutes while I’d rather be doing something else) my mother took that over. 

By the time I met Dick my life was a regulated matter of efficiency geared for productive work.

It makes me happy to be on a schedule and to get things done. Lots of things. And that makes Dick happy too because at various times in our life together that means there is always fresh bread on offer, for instance.

And I make huge batches of soup that we freeze so either of us can always have the soup we want. 

Everything is about efficiency. I ride my bike because it helps me deal with chronic pain, and makes me happy. And being happy helps me produce more.

As my computer tech guy said the other day when I asked him if I needed to upgrade a drive in my Drobo—”You are just a little data making factory over there!”

So the question of what I eat is actually important if you look at if from an efficiency stand point. That’s the point I wanted to make. And I encourage others to find ways to save time in their daily rituals and tasks.

If you look at the foods I eat from a chocolate consumption point, well that’s just something we won’t go into.




  1. Reply

    This post really begs the question: what does Roz have for breakfast? Noodles and peppers? sounds amazing! And here I am having boring yogurt with fruit.

    1. Reply

      Claudia, I almost did a food blog instead of an art blog, but well I was going to be sketching and teaching sketching so…

      I was born in the Philippines and raised on rice. Stir fry vegetables are my favorite thing to have for breakfast, with a little bit of rice of course.

      If there is no rice already cooked (usually there is a container of cooked rice in the fridge—and it’s either brown rice or jasmine rice which I’m quite fond of right now, though brown basmati rice makes the house smell so delightful), I’ll go for noodles.

      I like all sorts of noodles except for anything made with buckwheat (don’t like the taste). So it’s what I have on hand.

      Chop and onion, and start to fry it will the noodles are cooking. Chop whatever other fresh vegetables you have—mushrooms, celery, peppers, cauliflower, cabbage; and I keep frozen peas and corn around. Sauté in an obvious manner. If I don’t have mushrooms I’ll put a little pre-cooked chicken in there (we have that in the fridge most of the time too). At that point I add the noodles or rice. Let them get warm and crunchy. Then I decide if I want Tamari and an egg. If so I throw both in and finish cooking. YUM! Best breakfast ever. It takes basically no time at all. Which is good as I’m usually hungry after my bike ride.

      Or I will have a salad of greens, peppers, carrots, and some chicken breast. That’s all cold and also all very quick to put together, with a little Basalmic vinaigrette (which I used to make myself and have in the fridge, but then I started eating Paul Newman’s, which is good, but a little sweet. In November I will be going back to making my own, with some Paul’s on hand for emergencies.

      Yogurt and fruit is what I have for my afternoon snack! What type of yogurt do you like. I love the Greek God’s WHOLE FAT Milk yogurt. It is like butter!!!!

        • Claudia D
        • October 20, 2018

        I am,unfortunately, lactose intolerant. So i can only do the 0% fat yogurt and chobani is my go to brand. That said i do have two breakfasts! one before surfing (to wake up) and another after surfing. The second one is my favorite. I go full blown mexican: Two fried eggs, beans i’ve already prepared, some veggies on the side and either i will roll it all up in a tortilla or have some toast with it. Ahh how i love breakfast. (all of them). I would love to read about food and art. They sort of go together. right?

        1. Reply

          I’m sorry you’re lactose intolerant (genetically I am supposed to be!). My three favorite food types are Mexican, Indian, and Tibetan, so I can relate to the beans and eggs for breakfast, which I have upon occasion.

          I don’t know if art and food go together, but I know that food preparation can be an art form. I love watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and other shows like that!!! And all of my “big plans” except one involve food related art. (The obvious outlier is of course BEARDS!)

    • Elena
    • October 17, 2018

    Agreed. We need to know what Roz eats for breakfast. So many questions: whole wheat or gluten free? Italian or Asian?

    1. Reply

      Elena, see my response to Claudia for full details. My pasta doesn’t have to be whole wheat. I don’t need gluten free. As to Italian or Asian, doesn’t matter—just no buckwheat products.

    • Hilda
    • October 17, 2018

    Your public wants to know….

    1. Reply

      Hilda, please see the full response to Claudia. Hope that fills you in. I am reconsidering the food blog!!!

        • Lynn
        • October 22, 2018

        Roz, Rozwoundup is about your MANY enthusiasms. I imagine most of your readers would love to read an occasional food post. 👍🏽

        1. Reply

          Thanks Lynn I’ll try to hatch a plan.

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • October 17, 2018

    Just Excellent!!! Frank

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much Frank. I think I was channeling Zorn for about 30 seconds. If only I could prolong that effect. Let’s call it the Zorn-effect!

  2. Reply

    I love your confident, tapering contour strokes. You have a discerning eye and sure hand.

    1. Reply

      Thanks Richard, what can I say. I love peppers and I love the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, and I love the paper I was working on. I am grateful every day I have fun things to work with. Thanks so much for your kind comment.

    • Tina Koyama
    • October 17, 2018

    I’m glad you answered the question before I got here, because I certainly would have asked it, too! My mom used to make a very similar stir fry with rice, but I’ve never had it with noodles. You being so efficient, I would have thought you’d stick to rice, because you can shovel it into your mouth without really paying attention, freeing up your eyes and other hand for other stuff. 😉 (Noodles take a bit more coordination.) But it all sounds delicious! For literally decades, I ate nothing but peanut butter toast for breakfast. Then I went to Europe, where they always seem to offer sliced cheese and tomatoes at the hotel breakfast buffets, and I got to really liking it. So now I eat cheese and tomato on toast or avocado and salsa on toast (the latter was my own invention and the extent of my “cooking” skills).

    1. Reply

      I find that I can’t eat as much rice as I did when I was younger Tina, I have to trade off. But I never shovel in food. That would not be efficient. I love food TOO much. I savor every bit. (Being efficient elsewhere gives me the time to savor the food). Those toast breakfasts sound good. I have only liked avocado for about 20 years now, and am trying to make up for lost time!

    • Elizabeth Johnson
    • October 17, 2018

    Roz, your encouraging tone and practical ideas help me loosen up and get to work! (not to mention your vivacious drawings!)
    I did warm-ups like these with my kids and their cousins in a little graphic-novel camp I ran with them this summer.
    Thanks again.

    1. Reply

      So glad you enjoyed this. So glad you are working with future artists!!!

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