Our midwestern weather is finally warming up. As I write this — on May Day — it’s close to eighty degrees outside, which for those of you who don’t use Fahrenheit is about 27 degrees Celsius. Either way you go, it’s getting hot.
I look forward to spring and summer each year, and at the same time I dread it a bit. As much as I love warm weather, as much as I love Mother Nature, and as much as I want to get outside and sketch… well, there’s a problem, you see. Seasonal allergies, and I swear, it gets worse every year.
Since we bought our new home and moved in at the first of April, I’ve said several times that I wanted to sit outside and sketch our new yard. We have some lovely trees, including an apricot tree.
On Thursday of last week, as part of my 100-day project, I had a “sketching day”. On the previous day, author Aubrey Phillips (whose watercolor book I’m following for the project) pointed out the importance of drawing skills. I’d dutifully gathered up my pencils, my pens, and other drawing supplies, and was ready to draw a few of the bushes and trees in our new yard.
I decided I wanted to sketch in pen, not pencil. Pencil drawing makes it too tempting for me to erase. I fiddle with my drawings, trying to get everything “just right”. I can’t do that with pen. I have to be content to capture my immediate impressions — as if I were doing a “gesture drawing” from nature. So, for my sketching time I grabbed a fine-point Sharpie, a ballpoint, and a few sheets of paper. Out the door I went, ready to enjoy my nature drawing.
My enjoyment didn’t last long, I sat down and within thirty seconds I was sniffling and sneezing so bad, I couldn’t stand it. I was so miserable. Needless to say, I didn’t feel much like sketching.
But there I was, pen in hand, paper at the ready. I knew I couldn’t stay outside longer than another minute or two at best. So I drew fast. Really fast. I’d intended to make three drawings, but I couldn’t do it. I scribbled my way through two sketches, and bolted for the kitchen.
The surprise came when I got inside and looked at those fast and furious sketches. They weren’t all that bad, really. I looked at them in amazement. How had it happened? I’d actually captured the main points of what I was looking at.
Lousy photos, but actually decent drawings. Oh, that little mark on the right there… that was the start of my intended third drawing — a bit of pine needles. At that point, I couldn’t stay outside any longer, so I settled for only two sketches.
The more I looked at these fast and furious ink sketches, the more I liked what I saw. It was definitely a fun exercise, much more fun than if I’d spent lots of time attempting to draw these trees and bushes.
I think I’m finally truly grasping the concept of quick sketches — seeing what’s most important in a scene and getting it down on the page, getting the basic shapes and essential ideas, and maybe somehow capturing a little of the mood.
I’m planning another fast and furious sketching session this afternoon. I don’t know what I’ll end up with, but I know I’m going to enjoy my time — sniffles, sneezes, and all!