Every Wednesday evening — 5:30 PM CST — I check in with Matt Fussell and Ashley Bane Hurst, the two art instructors who host “Getting Sketchy” on YouTube. The program is starting its third season, and a total of 10 episodes are planned. This is part of the art instruction from The Virtual Instructor. The link I’ve provided will take you directly to the YouTube channel where you’ll find all episodes of “Gettin’ Sketchy” and other free art videos.
There is a big difference between drawing and sketching — and it’s largely a difference of time. For the drawings and other art projects we do during “Live Lessons” at The Virtual Instructor (for members only) we usually spend six to eight hours. With “Gettin’ Sketchy” there’s a time limit of forty-five minutes. Each week one — or occasionally both — of the instructors attempts to do a complete sketch within the allotted time.
I usually follow along, but I’ve learned that if our subject for the night isn’t something I’m really interested in drawing, it’s better for me to put my drawing pad aside. I still enjoy watching Matt or Ashley, and I still learn from the episode.
When I went to the session last Wednesday afternoon — making an advance check for hints — I learned that we’d be drawing a bug. Well, fine. I’m not crazy about drawing bugs, but why not?
Well, my why not question was answered when I returned at 5:30 and saw the reference photo. Turns out the bug we were drawing was a bug of a different sort. A Volkswagen beetle. I took one look, shook my head, and said “Nope, I’m out.”
I’ve tried drawing cars in the past, and except for my husband’s old van — which required considerable time and effort — well, let’s just say that drawing vehicles of any sort is not something I do well. It’s not the sort of drawing I enjoy, so I gave myself full permission to put down my pencil and paper and just watch Ashley as he worked.
But then for some reason I felt like I should at least make some attempt. So, with a shrug, I picked up my pencil again and began making marks. This was just a simple sketch, that’s all. Lots of loose lines, just trying to get some of the basic shapes in place.
Ashley, of course, made careful measurements, making sure he had the proportions correct for his bug. I didn’t. I just “eye-balled” the reference photo and used lots of pencil marks to come up with something that resembles a VW Beetle.
I made my sketch in only a few minutes, made no effort to get the proper proportions or do any shading. That wasn’t the point behind my sketch. For me, it was just a sort of “I dare you to try,” sort of challenge, and considering the way my previous car drawings have looked, I was very happy with my quick sketch.
Yep. It’s a bug. Never mind that the tires are different sizes. Ignore the fact that my bug has no headlights or other trim — I did include the side mirror and door handle, and that was detail enough for me.
It was all for fun, a challenge to myself. I accepted the challenge, proved to myself that I could draw a recognizable VW bug in only a few minutes, and that was all I set out to do. I took what could have been a frustrating, nerve-wracking drawing project and turned it into something fun.
We need these fun little art boosters from time to time, I think. I can look at this drawing and marvel over it. I did this in a matter of minutes. I got the basic shape right. I created something that resembles the subject. I did this without really even trying. Imagine that!
Sometimes our greatest success comes not from laboring over a drawing and getting every detail exactly right. Sometimes just “gettin’ very sketchy” may be the best way of measuring our progress, seeing things we can do that we once would never have thought possible.