On Again, Off Again: My Love Affair With Sketching

At some indefinable point in time, I fell out of love with sketching. Like many artists, I started sketching at a young age. From the ages of 8-12 or so, I carried around my sketch book at all times. I drew everything. Pots and pans, flowers, bowls of fruit. It was a clean, non messy or difficult medium for a youngster to start with- no complicated or dangerous paints and chemicals. As a result, I really got a good start on learning how to “see” as an artist needs to from an early age.

I also drew a lot of fish for some reason… Fish, age 8

I got nostalgic recently and started to thumb through my old sketchbooks. It’s interesting to look at my childhood drawings now as an adult. I can sort of see what interested me at certain times. Landscapes were a big thing for me early on.

Apparently, at age 9, I also really loved ‘Murica.

However, once I started to really get into painting- around junior year of high school, I started to neglect my sketchbook in favor of the canvas. I would sketch things out with paint on the canvas ahead of time, or, in the case of my increasing interest in non-objective work, not at all. I began to see sketching as tedious once I graduated high school. I no longer “kept” a sketchbook. I’d made some here and there, but that previous childhood enthusiasm for carrying a sketchbook with me was gone. If I wanted to collect something for reference, I just snapped a picture. In college even, my Painting 1 class required me to “keep” a sketchbook and show it to my professor at the end of the semester. I think there were a grand total of four sketches by the end, and two of them were probably forced out a few days before. I just wasn’t a ‘sketcher” anymore, I thought.

Then, a few months ago, I was cleaning out my desk drawers and found this incredibly cool sketchbook that I must have received as a Christmas gift from my mom:

The cover has a holographic image of a pencil and three crayons, designed by Susan Kare. I saw this empty book, with its cool design and thick binding, and felt compelled to put SOMETHING in it. I couldn’t just let it sit there being all blank. At first, I just wrote in little notes; ideas for posts, little doodles, whatever. But then I started to feel the urge to fill it with beautiful pictures. I did these cake sketches for that very reason, and also to test out color schemes.

I ended up using this color scheme as an actual painting. And it all came from one silly little sketch. I’ve really started to get back into the groove of sketching lately. I don’t know why I abandoned it for so long. Something that at once seemed tedious to me now seems like an incredible time/frustration saver. I don’t have to rework my paintings so often because of minor compositional and placement issues. My ideas are far more developed early on, so I don’t have to do as much backtracking (which is pretty easy to do with acrylics regardless.) Obviously, that’s always been the point of sketching. You’re probably all going “well DUH, Megan!” But I guess I may have associated sketching too much with my childhood- it was something that I had graduated from. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve come to realize that, as an artist, you never “graduate” from the basics, they “graduate” with you.

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