Page 16. A Sketch Demonstration

Here's a demonstration of some of the things I've been talking about.

This is a very old shrine in my neighborhood that sits on the corner of a small park. I've sketched it before. It sits on a street corner so I had to stand across the street to sketch it, making ocassional trips to inspect details more closely. It was a small street.

First I made a rambling scribble in pencil on a cheap pocket sketchbook to get a feel for the subject.

I had already penciled in some borders on several pages of my sketchbook. This helps to make a nicer finished product, and also gives me some margins where I can rest my hand without smudging the sketch. These borders are the same size as some matts I have cut so if the sketch turns out nice, I can frame it easily.

First I lightly penciled in the basic shapes, referring to both the subject in front of me as well as the small pencil scribble I made. This little trial sketch has the subject already reduced to two dimensions which helps me the spatial relationships better.

Then I drew the main outlines in ink. In this case, I used a Kuretake brush pen filed with waterproof carbon ink. I decided that the right part of the subject had too much dead space, so rather than redraw the pencil underdrawing, I just moved the right border in closer. So much for my matt!

I then went back in and add some details and hatching in the really dark areas.

As usual, I was standing the whole time, holding everything in my left hand. The watercolor box lid doubles as an easel. The color swatches are on the small pocket notebook that also holds the trial sketch. There's even a tissue paper in my hand for wiping the waterbrush.

Then I laid in light washes to establish what the basic color areas would be. I used a waterbrush with my limited palette of 9 colors.

I took the sketch home in its unfinished state and took another look at it. I then finished painting the sketch, and adding more ink lines as needed. I let the sketch itself (rather than the subject) tell me how to proceed and what to emphasize. The color of the curtains is closer to the color they used to be before they were faded by the rain and sun.

I think it's a nice sketch, if not exactly like the original subject. Most people will only see your sketch and not the subject on which it was based.

Many of my sketches have been taken so far along that some people would say they are no longer sketches, but "on-the-spot ink and watercolor drawing/paintings" done in a sketchbook. That's a lot of words, so I prefer to call them sketches. As I've mentioned before there are very few rules in art, so you are free to make up your own -- and to see if you can convince other artists that yours are the real rules. Good luck on the second part.

That's the end of my little "book." I hope it has given you a few ideas and maybe a little inspiration to sketch something! Have fun sketching!

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