Gettin’ Sketchy

Matt from “The Virtual Instructor”

I’ve written many times in this blog about Matt Fussell, the Virtual Instructor whose tutorials and classes helped me become an artist. I was fortunate to have found his website soon after I began learning to draw.

Now, along with his friend and fellow artist, Ashley Bane Hurst, he’s added a new feature to his teaching program. It’s called “Gettin’ Sketchy” and you can join in the fun each Wednesday through the Virtual Instructor’s YouTube channel.

In addition to the new “Gettin’ Sketchy” series, you’ll also find a lot of other art tutorials on a variety of techniques and media.

I took part in last Wednesday’s “Gettin’ Sketchy” drawing. What the series is all about is sketching as opposed to drawing. During the live lessons at The Virtual Instructor, a single drawing — such as the bee I recently shared — might take as many as seven or eight hours to complete. Sketching, of course, should be a much quicker process, and the idea behind “Gettin’ Sketchy” is to do a finished sketch in forty-five minutes, or, at least, to do as much as you can during that time.

And so it was that I sat down before the computer on Wednesday with a sketchbook and pencil in hand, ready to sketch… something! I had no idea what Matt would be drawing. As usual, I nearly fainted when I saw the reference photo.

A giraffe.

Yes, a giraffe. Come on, now! I don’t do animals! I can’t draw a giraffe. In forty-five minutes I’m supposed to produce something that resembles a real giraffe? Impossible!

Yet, take a look and see for yourself how my sketch turned out.

Yes, it looks like a giraffe. Each time I see this sketch, I wonder again how I did this. I’m especially pleased with the eyes. This is one of the few times I’ve ever been able to successfully draw any living creature.

I did it by following along with The Virtual Instructor, looking first at big, broad shapes, then gradually refining those shapes, and later, adding details. This was done on 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 inch gray toned paper using a “B” graphite pencil and white charcoal. At the end I started to add a solid white background but then decided against it.

A big part of learning art is developing confidence. Completing sketches like this one enables me to believe that I really can learn to draw, that I can improve my abilities, and I truly can call myself an artist.

At next week’s Gettin’ Sketchy session, Matt and Ashley will be having a “draw-off” with both of them working to complete drawings from the same reference photo. Why not join in? You can watch, you can draw along, and you can chat with others.

And if you’d like to check out the two previous sessions, here are the links:

Gettin’ Sketchy Live – Timed Drawing Exercise – Row Boat (Ashley Bane Hurst)

Gettin’ Sketchy Live – Timed Drawing Exercise – Giraffe (Matt Fussell)



  1. With live adult ed classes gone, I am looking over options for some online instruction. I miss my in person watercolor class! I will take a look at the freebies here and add it to my list of possibilities. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re welcome. I know we each respond to different teaching methods. For me, Matt Fussell’s methods have always “clicked”. I hope you enjoy his tutorials.


      1. Judith , your post inspired me so much , I went to Gettin’ Sketchy and drew the giraffe ! I didn’t have any toned paper so my brain went into overdrive trying to take the advice and convert it to work on creamy white paper . But , I really enjoyed it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so glad you checked it out! I had fun with Gettin’ Sketchy, and I’m looking forward to it again this Wednesday. The gray paper is marvelous to have around. I keep a small sketchbook — Strathmore — for drawing practices like this. I get mine at Amazon for a fairly reasonable price.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, really! Sorry about that. The “Gettin’ Sketchy” sessions start each Wednesday evening at 6:30 EDT. I hope you can join in while the video is live! I will definitely be there.

        Liked by 1 person

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