Despite some serious and potentially serious setbacks, my collection of sketches for the week of July 19 is satisfying. It is, in fact, the best group of sketches I’ve finished so far.
Yes. There was a clinker or two, but when you do twelve drawings a week, you’re bound to have a bad day. Right?
My Sketches for the Week of July 19, 2021
Prismacolor Sunburst Yellow, Spring Green, Marine Green, Violet on Stonehenge
Trumpet vines grow on the backyard fence and back of the house. A few ambitious vines have reached the back window of the room where I often sit to read or sketch or just take a few quiet minutes.
It was Monday evening before I got around to sketching. The sun was low enough to be back-lighting the leaves on the window. With the fence in shadow beyond those leaves, I decided to try capturing that almost glowing color.
I started by layering a bright yellow onto the paper, then adding Spring Green over that. That seemed like the logical thing to do, but it didn’t work. Darkening the shadows with Marine Green was an even worse mistake (in my opinion,) but I pushed on long enough to finish the sketch with a violet background and a solvent blend.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if you really want to improve your work, you need to be prepared to make some bad art.
This sketch falls into that category.
Seeking the Light
Prismacolor Violet Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Buff
I sketched this from memory and imagination, but based on an oddly shaped tree that stands at a nearby corner.
When trees grow close together and/or close to buildings, they often grow into interesting shapes as they try to reach the sunlight. Trees that normally grow straight and tall might become bent or twisted.
That idea fascinates me. I often find my gaze turning upward, looking for interesting patterns in the way branches have grown.
I’m not sure I like the combination of Blue Violet on this color of paper. Browns and dark greens work much better. But one of the purposes for this sketching habit is trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t.
Tree Branch Drawn with Left Hand
Prismacolor Marine Green on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
Yes. You read that right. Drawn with the left hand.
The reason is that I sliced the knuckle on the third finger of my right hand on Tuesday evening. Bled like a stuck pig! I wasn’t sure what to expect the next day. But Neal bandaged me up and we took Tuesday evening easy.
Wednesday, I remembered reading about someone who was learning (or had learned) to draw with their non dominant hand. Since it was a bit painful to draw with my right hand, I decided to try sketching with my left hand.
The result was surprising. I could tell I’d drawn a tree. I had fairly good control of the pencil and managed to get decent values. But the appearance was very loose and sketchy. I didn’t even try to make long, graceful strokes; instead I made short marks with medium-light pressure and layered strokes to darken the values.
As different as this is, I liked it immediately.
I still do!
Saddle Back Mountains Drawn with Left Hand
Prismacolor Copenhagen Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
I liked the tree study drawn with my left hand so much that I immediately did another sketch with that hand.
I used the same short strokes in multiple layers in the shadows. This kind of short stroke overlapping in uneven patterns really were useful in drawing these two mountains.
I even got a bit daring and added birds!
A Ribbon of Hair
Prismacolor Peacock Blue on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
All I can say about this sketch is that there are some things you should never try to draw without a reference photo.
I was trying to figure out how I would draw long, curly hair. I thought I knew what to do. Everybody knows what long, curly hair looks like, right?
The sketching went well, but before I finished, I realized that I hadn’t drawn long, curly hair; I had drawn long, wavy hair.
It’s a nice sketch.
Prismacolor Indigo Blue on Strathmore Artagain Paper Flannel Grey
Beyond those trumpet vines I sketched at the beginning of the week there are several huge trees. Earlier this spring, property was sold in that area, and the trees at the back of the property were stripped of dead wood and low branches.
Usually, I see these trees in the afternoon, when these branches are deep in shadow.
Today, I saw them in the morning. Those brightly lighted stubs of branches caught my eye. So did the way these three huge, vertical branches are growing.
Tree Study Drawn with Left Hand
Derwent Drawing Sepia (Red) on Strathmore Artagain Beachsand Ivory
Late in the week, after my injury had healed enough for right-handed drawing again, I found myself bored with the whole process. Nothing looked interesting out the back window or from the front porch. I was too lazy to search through my photo files for something to draw. So I just sat for a while, waiting for an idea.
The idea was to draw left-handed again; to see what happened. Could I duplicate what I’d done earlier in the week?
The answer was yes.
This time, I got out my half-dozen or so Derwent Drawing pencils. I’ve had them quite a while, but haven’t done much with them. That was certainly my loss, because they’re great for sketching! They go onto the paper so smoothly and nicely.
This sepia color is also perfect for this color of paper.
And I’m really starting to like this bolder style of sketching!
Trunk Study Drawn with Left Hand
Derwent Drawing Chocolate on Strathmore Artagain Beachsand Ivory
We took an elderly friend and one of her pets to a vet this afternoon. The news was not good and the pet was euthanized. I wasn’t attached to the pet, but I have lost pets to which I was attached.
When I got home, I drew this sketch as a way of processing what had happened: A routine vet visit with unexpected results.
Once again, I used my left hand because for some reason, that seemed appropriate.
Where a Branch Once Was
Derwent Drawing Ivory Black on Canson Mi-Teintes Moonstone
The idea of branches and trees standing against the elements while they have been hollowed out fascinates me. I’ve seen more than one huge branch that looked solid brought down in a storm, or cut down . It’s only when you see the branch severed like this that you realize the interior damage.
I drew this from memory and imagination. My main goal was creating a wide range of values while using mainly lines. I did shade the darkness inside the hollowed out branch stub, but everything else is line work.
Tree Branch in White
Derwent Drawing Chinese White on Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey
With this sketch, I wanted to try drawing something that looked three dimensional while using white on darker paper. The results would have been better with a darker paper, but this still turned out well.
Leaning Telephone Pole
Derwent Drawing Chocolate on Canson Mi-Teintes Buff
I see this telephone pole almost every time I look out a certain window. We pass it every time we drive away from the house or return.
But I’m rarely looking at it.
Today, the sun was shining on it and it caught my eye.
After I’d drawn it, I looked at what I’d drawn, and thought, “Aren’t telephone poles usually round?”
I’m going to have to walk out some time and take a look at this one.
Scratching Branch Study
Derwent Drawing Olive Green on Canson Mi-Teintes Light Grey
This concludes the collection of sketches for the week of July 19. I returned to the cat’s indoor scratching branch as the subject.
I have nothing special to say about this beyond my attempt to be a little more careful in drawing it accurately. I tend to embellish when drawing trees and branches like this, just to play with line and value.
Those are My Sketches for the Week of July 19
This week was good for sketching despite all the setbacks and unusual events. I’m quite pleased with these sketches.
I’m also quite pleased with the realization that my sketching abilities have improved since I began this challenge on July 3. It’s even more satisfying to realize that when I take the time to sketch more carefully, the results are even better.
I just wish I was better at sketching in full color!
I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.
And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of July 19, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!