Dog Sketches and Tips for Beginner Sketchers

I enjoy drawing whatever I see around me. Although lately I’ve been working on some more complicated scenes, yesterday I decided to sketch my dog. She is interesting to sketch, but hard too, because she gets up and moves around at a moments notice. But that can help sharpen my urban sketching skills since everyone and everything is rapidly moving around me and I have to work very quickly. I caught her laying on a rug, got the face and ears and a quick gesture of the body and the legs and tail. Then my husband drove in the driveway and she jumped up to go meet him. Ugh…. But when you draw, you remember, so I was able to get the colors and details in later. She came back and laid down, but in another position, which I knew wouldn’t last long, but I liked it, so I quickly got in the body shape and position, leg and face. Then she jumped up. But I got some quick sketches in pencil and watercolor, so I was happy.

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The sketches with her and her dog bed were done in January. I liked the different positions I caught her in, and working fast, was able to capture a few. The challenge with live or on-location sketching is that nothing poses for you. Many artists take figure drawing classes where a model poses for you in the same position for many minutes, but not urban sketching. Your scene or subject is always on the brink of moving. A few tricks I have learned to deal with this challenge:

  1. First—-Practice, practice, practice, on things that DON’T move. Learn basics of figure drawing and basic drawing skills. Draw everything and anything—- your dinner, your house, shoes, vegetables, cars, what’s in your purse, your desk drawer contents, your closet, your patio furniture, anything. Break everything down into lines and shapes.
  2. When venturing outside, start small. Choose something that may not move on you. Or chose an object that may move and be OK with whatever you get done (ie. a person’s face instead of their whole body).
  3. If I see a person I want to sketch, I do that first and furiously, grabbing their gesture, rough shapes and features, then add the other elements (clothing, hair, accessories) second.
  4. Sometimes I start my sketches in pencil, especially if the scene is complex or has people. This allows me to erase things I don’t like or adjust the scene if needed.
  5. Don’t think about getting perfection, just look at it as practice and challenging yourself. Be OK with drawings that you don’t like because you can learn so much from them. Think about what you’d do differently next time. Know that drawing is a skill, just like cooking or playing the violin. You can’t get it perfect the first time.
  6. Have fun! Enjoy the process of sketching. Relax, accept what you draw, have a good time with it.

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