Friday, June 29, 2012


Cummer Gardens. ink and watercolor pencils by student, Carrie Adamiak
Keeping a sketchbook has been a tradition of artists for centuries. Through the years, painters and artists have kept sketchbooks to collect ideas, record their surroundings, plan major work, experiment, take notes, doodle, make color notes, work out compositions and make value studies.

In recent years, sketching as a daily habit has taken a back seat to the creation of finished work.

Learning to draw from comic books, age 6
As a very young artist, sketching was the way that I taught myself to draw. It was natural to draw as much as possible - it was my favorite thing to do.

I have thousands of drawings that were saved by my doting dad, done between the ages of six and twenty years of age. 

The photo to the left is from my very first drawing lesson with my first drawing teacher,  my sister, Karen.

The natural inclination to sketch incessantly was stifled as responsibilities of adulthood set in. I fell away from sketching on a daily basis and guess what happened? My skill level went down.

It wasn't until I felt the need to maintain my drawing skills as an adult artist that I began again the daily habit of keeping a sketch book.

The wonderful thing about a daily sketching habit is the effort vs. results ratio. For very little expenditure of time, you get a lot of results: skill level is maintained, self-confidence increases, ideas start to flow and one idea begets another - the momentum that a sketchbook generates is a wonderful thing!

My students are required to keep a sketchpad and work in it daily. I ask only 10-15 minutes per day. Keeping the sketchbook is part of their grade. Students who make sketching a daily habit learn to draw much more easily and quickly than those who choose not to do so.
FSCJ drawing students in the Cummer Gallery garden
Field trips to lovely places refresh the art spirit and encourage the habit of drawing on the go. 

Do you keep a sketch book? In what ways do you use it? 
What is your favorite location or subject?


  1. Sadly, I've fallen away from daily sketching. Before I was out on my own and had little responsibility, I sketched incessantly. Now with the time crunch of so much that needs doing, my art time is spent painting. Lately I've really been missing drawing. So I've bought 3 markers in different shades of grey so I can at the very least do a couple of value studies.

  2. Hi Theresa,
    Good for you! The purchase of the markers will inspire you to use them.

    I know how hard it is for teachers to find time to actually create art. Last weekend I presented a mini workshop at the Florida Art Educators Association conference, re-introducing the art teachers to the habit of keeping a sketchbook.
    It was enthusiastically received because the time an art teacher has to pursue her own art is so limited.

    Sketching is an easy way to get those creative juices flowing again.

    Happy sketching!

  3. Hi Jaimie - I'm catching up on my favorite blogs after a 3 week hiatus from the internet.
    I've kept a sketchbook off and on for over 10 years...and now my husband keeps one too. I'm not as consistent as I once was and my sketches tend to veer into doodles, or glue-stick collages. But the act of pulling out my pen and dashing off a quick sketch makes my heart sing.
    And I do love flipping back through my journals - the drawings always transport me back to the scene.

    Are you familiar with Danny Gregory? His books were the inspiration for my husband to begin sketching.

    Thanks for the wonderful post and peek into your sketchbook!
    xo Frances

  4. Hi Frances!

    Good to hear from you. I'm not familiar with Danny Gregory, but I will look him up. Inspiration is a wonderful thing.

    When something you're doing makes your heart sing, you're doing the right thing, don't you think?


  5. Hi Professor Howard! This is Danielle Blanding from your Draw 1, Drawing 1: Form and Space class! I also began sketching at a young age, especially when I would go to church and my mom would give me paper and pen and I would draw the entire service. I also kept a small sketchbook full of quick sketches of clothing ideas I had as a kid. These days I don't sketch as much as I used to and I'm hoping to get back at drawing and painting more to get better at what I'm doing and to become a better artist.

  6. Hi Danielle! Good to hear from you. I used to draw in church too. Truth be told, I still do. The more you sketch, the better you'll get, so draw, draw, draw. You'll be surprised how fast you'll improve. See you in class!