Does your pencil have a mind of its own? Do you find yourself doodling in class, or filling in the o’s on the page you’re reading? You may find it hard to believe, but these incidental markings could be a great start to more exciting work. Sketching allows you to express in a totally free-form way what you see before you and what you can imagine. Relax, throw away your inhibitions, and don’t worry about the outcome. Allow your hand and a pencil to create something completely new.
Start with pencil and paper
The beauty of learning to sketch is that it doesn’t require a big investment to get started. Pick up a pencil and paper and you’re set to go. The subjects that you capture can be a pile of books on your desk; an elderly man sitting on a park bench; your baby asleep in their crib; a collection of flowers from your garden; or an old pair of shoes. You get the idea! Your imagination is free and ready to be exercised.
Pick something that interests you
When you see something that captures your imagination, consider its potential to be a great subject for your sketch. You are much more likely to finish your work if you actually find the subject interesting. Artists through the years have perfected their masterpieces by first studying objects of their interest. Leonardo DaVinci had incredible powers of observation and created numerous sketches of the human anatomy, machines, and nature. Rembrandt captured great emotion in his sketches, giving glimpses into his world and his mind. Monet used preliminary sketches to carefully plan out his water lily paintings. But don’t worry. You don’t need to be a master to have something interesting to create.
- Decide on your subject and find a comfortable spot to begin.
- Select a hard-lead HB pencil and sturdy paper.
- If you want to be sure to fit everything in, start with some light guidelines on the page.
- Hold your pencil loosely and make light marks first. You can easily erase lines you don’t like later.
- Outline the main shapes.
- Once the layout is established fill in the details.
- Glance quickly back-and-forth from the subject to your page, moving your hand rapidly as you render the drawing. Your marks should be lively and interesting, with a rhythmic flow.
- Work first on large objects moving to smaller ones. Next fill in the background.
- Use hatching to add darks and shadows, and a colored pencil to add interest.
- Set a time limit to see how much you can accomplish in a limited amount of time.
Feel like you need help?
To refine your sketching skills, visit the public library and check out how-to books from the art section. These offer step-by-step lessons in drawing forms and shapes, as well as how to shade items for just the right effect. When you’re ready for professional guidance, consider attending an art class at the community college or inquire at the local art guild about personal lessons.
Your work doesn’t need to reproduce the subject. Feel free to create something totally different. If you make it your goal to draw something everyday, you will see your work improve.