Everyday Sketching and Drawing
Steven B. Reddy teaches drawing and illustration at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. He teaches two popular classes on drawing and sketching in pen and ink and watercolor for Craftsy. The following is an excerpt from his newest book Everyday Sketching & Drawing: Five Steps to a Unique and Personal Sketchbook Habit.
“Why doesn’t everybody draw all the time?”
My adult students at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle were busy sketching still lifes when I asked this question aloud. They chuckled politely and kept drawing, but I wasn’t being completely rhetorical. Why doesn’t everyone draw all the time? Because it’s hard? Getting myself to the gym in the morning is hard. Carrying a sofa up four flights to my studio is hard. Drawing is merely pushing a pen around on a piece of paper! My elementary school students love to draw, so how hard can it be?
“Ah, but it’s hard to draw well,” my students might have been thinking. Well, what does it mean to “draw well”? I suspect that to most people, drawing well means drawing like someone else—someone whose work has been validated by those who know what good drawing is. I have degrees in art and teaching, have been drawing my entire life, and should probably know what good drawing looks like. I don’t.
What I do know is what my drawings look like, and I came to know what my drawings look like by doing a lot of them. I have no magical talent, no special gift for drawing. But I draw every day. And I’m lazy, so if drawing were difficult, I wouldn’t do it. I would rather draw than do anything else. I’d rather draw than finish writing this sentence.
What about drawing makes it seem difficult? Perspective. Symmetry. Proportion. Realism. Accurate color. These principles and elements of drawing can be objectively judged and criticized. You can be graded on how straight your horizon lines are, how carefully you aligned your horizontals with your vanishing point, how real your drawings look. Concern over these academic constructs is what makes drawing feel difficult.
But these drawing conventions, much like the definitions of words, change over time. Drawing theories and styles go in and out of vogue based on opinion and consensus. If your goal is to produce art for a trend-following ad agency, or to market your work to an audience invested in these trends, my book will not be much help. In Everyday Sketching and Drawing, you’ll find no rules, no diagrams illustrating perspective and vanishing points, nothing about the Golden Mean or Fibonacci’s Spiral, no tips for replicating photographic images.
Typically, what adult sketchers consider “mistakes” are the very things that make their drawings uniquely their own. Distortions and interesting variations are erased and redrawn, as if the goal is to create an image that successfully hides any trace of the artist who made it. You have a unique and personal contribution to make. The purpose of my book is to encourage you to use everything you currently know about drawing to make the most sincere drawings you can at this point in your practice.
Everyday Sketching & Drawing: Five Steps to a Unique and Personal Sketchbook Habit offers an easy-to-follow, five-step formula, which teaches beginner-friendly techniques for learning the skills necessary to make drawing and sketching an everyday habit. It’s on sale now everywhere books are sold.