Sketching success in 2015

A fall-themed sketch from late last year.

In my last post I mentioned the “Every Day in May” sketching challenge. I ended up getting a sketch done for almost every day of the month. I didn’t upload every day’s sketch, you can see most of them in this Flickr album.

And while that was a great burst of continuous sketching, I kept up a pretty good pace through the rest of the year. Like with the May album, I didn’t upload everything, but much of what I did sketch in 2015 is in this Flickr album of 152 sketches.

And this year, I’d like to do even better. I doubt I’ll post too many of the sketches I’m not too happy with, I’ll try and upload more than 152 this year.

While it’s already about halfway through January, I’ve just posted my first sketch to an album of sketching done this year.

Every day in May, 2015

A sketch of some Hobnobs for the Every Day in May challenge.

The other day, artist and blogger Liz Steel posted about an art challenge for the month of May called “Every Day in May.” Each day you have a particular subject you need to draw or paint. Today’s item was “a favorite food.” Now, while I enjoy Hobnobs quite a bit, they’re not easy to get ahold of in the US, so they’re quite a rare treat. I thought they’d be a perfect subject for the first day of this challenge.

More information about the challenge – including the list of subjects – can be found in the post on Liz Steel’s weblog. There’s also the Facebook page and the Flickr group.

Sketchbook Skool, round 2

A few blind contour sketches of myself.

I’m attending a new Sketchbook Skool course, and so far it’s going about as well as it went last time. The last time I signed up was their inaugural session, and there were a few kinks in the platform they were using. Well, it seems that they’re trying out a new platform starting with this course, and it too is having some problems. Hopefully they’ll get them corrected before we get too far into the class, umm, I mean “klass.”

This time around – the course is called “Stretching” – they have several artists whose work I’m a big fan of, including Lapin, Miguel Herranz, and France Belleville Van Stone.

The image for this post is one of the exercises Lapin had us do: blind contour drawings of someone’s face. In my case, I used my own.

I sense a theme?

Sketch and painting of a Polaroid Land Camera

Although this and the previous post feature sketches of cameras, they’re the only ones in my sketchbook. The Polaroid camera above was sketched from a photo I found in a Google image search. I *wish* I had a nice Polaroid camera like this one.

I’m really looking forward to the weather getting nice enough to sketch outside. I’m running out of interesting things around the house to use as subjects. A friend found a local sketching group that meets regularly. Now, if only they’d schedule their meetups on days I’m not busy!

Super 8

Old Super 8 film camera covered with rust

It took over a week, but I finally broke in the new sketchbook, and I’ve filled 5 pages so far. The old Super 8 film camera depicted above is my sketch/painting from two nights ago.

As I pick up the sketchbook and paints more often, I can definitely see a slow improvement. I may not yet be completely satisfied with every sketch and painting, but I’m getting there.

Out with the old, in with the new

My old and new sketchbooks.

The first Moleskine sketchbook I bought myself in 2008 took over four years to fill up with sketches and paintings. My most recent sketchbook is an Alpha landscape sketchbook from Stillman & Birn, and this time I only needed 14 months. And it has more pages, to boot.

Now, not only is it a new sketchbook, but it’s also a new year. It’s time to start posting again. I’d like to share more of the sketches and such from my books, so that’s going to be my goal this year.

Start by starting

It’s been a long, long time since I updated the site, and I often think of posting something, but then I’ll find some excuse not to. But then today I read this inspiring post from Danny Gregory:


If you haven’t written a blog post in a long time …. how do you start again?

You start by starting. By picking up a pen, a dumbbell, and getting to work. There is no magic trick, there is no massive process for preparation. There is simply the active of sitting down at the computer, opening a new document, and starting to type.


So, here is me sitting (well, standing) at the computer and starting. I’ve still been keeping up with my sketching – although not something I do every day – and I’ve been posting the ones that look decent to my Flickr account. I’m going to start scanning more, and then using the blog to post the better ones.

Danny’s post also reminds me of a great quote from William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well:

Decide what you want to do. Then decide to do it. Then do it.

Sketching for programmers

A couple of days ago, I came across this blog post called “Drawing as a Programmer” and it struck a chord with me, both as a programmer, and as someone trying to draw and sketch more. The author talks about how taking short breaks for drawing can help with refocusing:

I started sketching again. At first I did it after job hours, in my spare time, but then I noticed that, after acquiring some basic knack, I can draw simple sketches quickly, so I tried to have drawing breaks when I got stuck with a new coding problem in my head. And to my surprise, my productivity rose.

Every software engineer worth a dime knows that programming is more about thinking, than typing code (and if you do not agree, you should probably go do copywriting or something). When you work on a hard problem, you think, think, think, read an article on your current topic, think, maybe do some tinkering here and there, think again, get an ‘AHA’ moment, and then, only then do typing.

That’s so very true. Many times I need some time to think out a problem; I need to focus on something else while my mind clears so perhaps I can think of another approach. I’m going to give this a shot and see if it works in those times I’m stuck.

A few days in January

Sketchbook - Jan 4 & 5th, 2014

I started out this year sketching every day, even if it was just something simple and around the house. That lasted just over a week. Sigh. But, I have picked it up a few times since then, and I do plan on being a little better about sketching this year. I’d like to experiment a bit more with watercolors as well.

One thing that should hopefully help with this task is Danny Gregory and friends’ Sketchbook Skool. I’ve signed up for the first “semester,” and I’m quite looking forward to it. I’m familiar with the work of all of the instructors he has lined up. Here’s hoping it’ll go well.

The two pages from the sketchbook at the top of the post were from that initial week-long bout of sketching in January. The painting was inspired from looking out the back window at a particularly colorful sunset.

I’m in a book called Playing with Sketches

A new art instruction book by Whitney Sherman called Playing with Sketches contains a couple of quotes of mine, and references The Tools Artists Use. I knew the site would be mentioned, but not to what extent. I also wasn’t sure if there was going to be any mention of me at all. I had assumed a small mention of the site and that was it. I’m quite happily surprised!

Here’s a (blurry) screenshot of the page:


You can see a little more of the inside of the book at, and I go into a little more detail in a post over on The Tools Artist Use.