So far in this series on plein air drawing with colored pencil, we’ve talked about the upcoming Autumn Drawing Challenge, the equipment I use instead of a standard easel, and putting together a field kit.

It’s now time to take a look at what some might call the most important aspect of plein air drawing.

How to Find Something to Draw

No matter what type of subject, art, or style you like, you should be able to find something to draw outside your front (or back) door. I live in town near the downtown area, so you might think someone who prefers landscapes would have difficulty finding subjects.

Not so!

This detail drawing (drawn outside a few years ago) shows an oddity that appears at the foot of a tree that’s scarcely four feet from the back steps.

How to Find Something to Draw - A Sketch of the Bottom of a Tree

These clouds are further away, but I sat in a lawn chair just a few feet from the above mentioned tree while I drew the clouds. Such scenes are available from anywhere around the house, around town, or in the countryside. All you have to do is look up!

How to Find Something to Draw - Cloud Sketch

When looking for plein air subjects, keep an eye on the big picture, but also be aware that your subject will most likely be a very small part of the big picture.

Like the interesting detail at the foot of a towering elm.

If you’re not a fan of landscapes, that’s okay. There are still plenty of interesting things all around. Step outside and take a look at the things on or around your front porch.  Here are a few of the things I found just outside my front door.

How to Find Something to Draw - Metal Pot

How to Find Something to Draw - Peeling Paint

How to Find Something to Draw - Plant Leaf

When looking for something to draw, don’t rule anything out at first glance. Not even a section of peeling paint or an empty pot.

 

We also have cats in the community, so there are opportunities to draw them if I happen to find them napping.

The point is that there are always things to draw close at hand.

When searching for something to draw, I’ve identified two keys to keep in mind.

  • Don’t rule anything out at a glance
  • Look for the thing that attracts your glance repeatedly

What makes a subject interesting as a drawing or sketch has as much to do with how you see it and choose to draw it as with it’s innate qualities.

So step out your front door (or back door) and see what’s available.

Then take a little time to sketch it. You might be surprised at the results!

About the Autumn Plein Air Drawing Challenge

The Autumn Plein Air Drawing Challenge begins September 1 and concludes October 31. It’s designed to be fun and informative. There are only two rules:

  • Go outside to draw something outside
  • Use colored pencil in some form

I’m going to draw outside at least one day a week. If you have more time, you can do more drawings. If time is a concern for you, you can do fewer. The point is to get outside and draw.

I’ll post my drawings on a special group board on Pinterest. If you’d like to post your drawings, all you have to do is request an invitation to join the board. You will need a Pinterest account, but they’re free and easy to set up.