View Full Version : Sydney's 2015 sketchbooks

01-04-2015, 09:02 AM
Hoping to improve the speed and accuracy of my drawing. I am at the point where, given the time, I can do a reasonably accurate line drawing from a photo but I want to be able to capture day to day life with my pencil/ pen as well as with my camera.

To this end my sketchbooks will contain sketches done from photos- mine and others (since October I have regularly used pixelovely.com to improve speed and accuracy) as well as from life and occasionally things that are floating around in my head.

I am a beginner so no great pieces of art but I have so enjoyed looking through other peoples that I thought I would add mine. It is always good to see how people improve.

To start off, a sketch of my dog from life:


01-04-2015, 09:05 AM
I like it. You caught the dog. I've always found it hard to be looser in drawing. So that is a good skill to have. Good job!

01-04-2015, 02:16 PM
Love the dog.

Joan T
01-04-2015, 08:33 PM
Great job on the dog!!! I love the texture background.

01-05-2015, 06:48 AM
Thank you for your kind words. I am currently drawing a CP picture of my dog using a photo. However I have the advantage of being able to study him in order to get better colour and understanding of form. it is fun to just do quick sketches.

Yesterday was my first attempt at the scavenger hunt. I was going to wait for the next one which I think will start either today or tomorrow but thought I would get the first page out of the way. I am using a very cheap (1) sketchbook that I will keep just for the scavenger hunt. I have far too many sketchbooks on the go now.


01-05-2015, 02:27 PM
Great hunt page.

Joan T
01-05-2015, 08:08 PM
Nice hunt page. I have to get over there today and look for the new list.

01-05-2015, 10:07 PM
Great drawing of your own hand! This is shaping up to be a great sketchbook, the dog's excellent too.

01-06-2015, 03:54 PM
Yesterday's sketches were mostly figure drawing and as I am not sure what I can show here I will post the only other one I did.

This is Casper sleeping on the end of the bed. It was very quickly sketched in pen so all the mistakes are on show.


01-06-2015, 08:21 PM
Nicely done! I don't see any major mistakes here - I think that's something like when I sketch my cat in pen. Sometimes a bad line gets lost in fur in the corrections and you get the anatomy right anyway. Of course I didn't see the original pose to know how much you changed it, but this dog looks well rounded, anatomically accurate, relaxed, coherent. Good sketch. Love the way you give a sense of slightly coarse tangled fur, very furry dog, well done!

01-07-2015, 02:34 PM
Sydney, great fuzzy dog sketch. As to figure drawing, if you create a thread with nudes in it there is a "butt" icon that you use to identify it as that type of thread. It warns people who don't want to see to avoid the thread. If you wish, create a thread just for your figure drawings and click on the icon. All will be well.

01-07-2015, 05:41 PM
Sydney, I really like all your sketches so far. Like Robert, I do not see any mistakes in the dog sketch. I think your sketch of your own hand is miles better than anything I could do.

01-07-2015, 06:31 PM
Thank you Robert, I love your cat sketches, they are so fluid and expressive. I think the major problem with mine was the paw that is sticking up. It was sort of like that but not quite! You have definitely rekindled my desire to have a cat. The dog wouldn't be impressed though. I always wanted a cat from when I was really little but have never had one. I wanted either a silver tabby, a Bengal or a Siamese but the family wanted a dog, so a dog it was. Luckily he won me over and I adore him which is a good job because I am the one who looks after him for the majority of the time.

Debby, thank you, I knew I had seen something about nudes but couldn't find it on a quick search.

Sandra, thank you for your comment. I think I need to learn to see what I have done well rather than just where it falls short.

In fact posting on this site has been a big step for me. I don't let my family look at my sketchbooks! Maybe in a few months I will feel more confident about it.

I have just finished another couple of sketches for the new scavenger hunt- dominant and non dominant hands. Although the one done with my left hand is a bit wobbly it does actually resemble a hand. I was hugely surprised because I cannot write using my left hand at all.

Joan T
01-07-2015, 09:51 PM
Casper looks very content. Nice sketch of him!

01-08-2015, 05:32 AM
Thank you Joan, I am glad he looks content. I am pretty sure he is, but he is very family orientated and is shy of other people.

Here are the hands I drew yesterday for the scavenger hunt.


01-08-2015, 02:42 PM
Outstanding drawings of your hands. The drawing done with the non-dominant hand is very, very good. A bit of practice and you could draw equally well with both hands.

01-08-2015, 03:29 PM
well done on these, love the sketches of the pooch :)

01-08-2015, 04:02 PM
The pup at the end of the bed is great. Napping away. Your drawing of both hands is well done. Hands are hard to do.

01-09-2015, 05:30 AM
Thank you Debby- drawing using my left hand was odd. It was like it didn't have any strength.

Skattykat, Maybe the sketches of my dog are better because I love him so much but maybe that's why I am also so critical of them myself.

Patk- I am one of those people who get tutted at for letting their dog sleep in their bedroom. Unfortunately, I am a bit soft with him and if he looks comfortable I will work around him. My husband just shoves him and says 'move dog'. The dog listens to me more than the rest of the family though so I can't be doing too much damage.

These are a couple more sketches for the scavenger hunt. Did these a couple of days ago but have only worked out how to post one picture a day from my iPad.

I preferred the paw when it was just pen. The other one was done directly with pen and I kept compounding errors so it is a bit dodgy. It is from an old wall gas light. I didn't want to get rid of it when we moved into the house so I use it to hang my dressing gown.


01-09-2015, 01:48 PM
Great hunt sketches.

01-09-2015, 05:59 PM
The paw is very good. Looks like what it is. Good job. I think the light needs more contrast that's all. Good drawing.

01-10-2015, 10:47 AM

Dog sketches again.

Love this dog so much.

Joan T
01-10-2015, 11:46 AM
Great hands and paw...but the dog is so cute. I love that last one of just his head!

01-10-2015, 06:39 PM
The love for your dog comes through your sketches.

01-10-2015, 07:33 PM
Wow! Great view of your hands. Beautiful dog sketches. Love that pen and wash paw especially, so sensitive and loving. You really have a strong bond with your dog and it shows. I hope you can get a cat, they're not the same and cats are so easy to take care of that it's more like the cat takes care of you. Of course my cat actually does.

01-15-2015, 06:53 AM
Love the gestural quality of your dog sketches!!!

01-15-2015, 09:04 AM
Joan, hmm, I was going to say something to you but will probably put it on your thread where you are more likely to see it. Anyway, thank you. I quite like that one too, it is very him, cute and scruffy.

Debby, thank you. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for getting a dog, I am smitten!

Thank you Robert, I am glad it shows how much I love him. I refused to go on holiday last summer because I didn't want to leave him for that long. I think it is unlikely I will be able to get a cat, Casper goes loopy if he sees a cat in our garden. I don't think he would hurt one but he can really bark- loudly and for a surprisingly long time. He would probably settle down after a while but I don't think my husband would go for it.

Blooming, thank you, I have discovered, since starting to draw him, what a huge fidget he is. I am also doing a colour pencil drawing of him but it is taking forever.

Ugh! I have been ill. Strange virus thing.

It was my birthday yesterday though and my wonderful husband bought me lots of new toys to play with. He did raise his eyebrows at my excitement over getting a pencil sharpener. I also have some pastel pencils to play with. My first sketch is a little dodgy not helped by the rubbish initial sketch I started with- too eager to get going with the pastels. Can't show it here as it is for the animals and wildlife monthly challenge- may not show it there either in the end, depends how brave I am feeling. I don't think I will make public my sketch of a smurf figure I was given for Christmas either...

The only other sketches I have done are figure drawing- only one was clothed- 5 minute sketch using a Staedtler pigment liner. Not much to see really but want to show I am still sketching:


01-15-2015, 09:16 AM
I am really enjoying seeing your sketches! I am with Joan, I also especially love the last one of your dog (head shot on the bed, or floor?) on the bottom right in post #22. You are much better than you are giving yourself credit for, too!! This last figure drawing is excellent as well. Very lively and expressive lines in all of these!

Oh, and I hope you are feeling better soon! Happy belated birthday! Mine was on the 13th :wave:

01-15-2015, 03:23 PM
Happy late birthday. Hope you are on the mend with the virus thing. The figure drawing is great.

The thing with sketches and other art, it's not all going to be master pieces. I'm struggling right now with the human figure. Told hubby that I was terrible. He is also an artist and he told me, "so draw it again and again and again." He's right. :)

01-16-2015, 12:24 PM
Nice sketches of your dog from life :)

You learn a LOT more by drawing from life than from copying an already 2d image .... often someone else's composition and vision too.

Keep drawing things that interest you like this from life and look at work by others who draw from life and you will be amazed how you gain confidence and ability :)

01-16-2015, 02:39 PM
Jaxhil, thank you for your kind comments. I hope you had a great birthday too.

Debby, I am good now thank you, really knocked me for six though. i will keep on drawing. I sometimes see small parts of my drawings that I like. I am hoping with practice they will become a bigger proportion and one day I will produce a whole piece that I am satisfied with ( not perfect- just satisfactory)

Vhere, I am enjoying the challenge of drawing from life but that is just part of what I have enjoyed over the last few months. I have got different things out of each method I have used.

The monthly challenges that involve working from others pictures is what first gave me the confidence to be active on WC. It was easier to show work that I had little emotional investment in. I also challenge myself to use a picture with subject matter I wouldnt usually engage with.

For the scavenger hunt I have taken the opportunity to use different supplies I have hanging around, which I have then continued to use in my sketchbook. Previously my sketches were just graphite or pen with one colour wash when on holiday. Drawing quickly from life has also encouraged me to do the same for other subject matter I choose and then using my knowledge of the subject to develop that drawing ( unsuccessfully so far but it will improve given time). they are still only relatively quick sketches but as I learn I hope to be able to produce fully developed pictures from my sketches. I haven't done that since school.

I also love using coloured pencil and, as well as using them for sketches, I have drawn a few more detailed pictures based on my own photos. However, when I do that I tend to use photos where I like the composition but the photo hasn't been successful for some reason ( exposure, lighting, extra clutter, bad focus etc..) As I take the photos myself, I also have extra experience which isn't contained in the photo which I can then use to improve on it in some way.

It is all fun and it all brings me happiness and relaxation.

Wow that was a bit wordy.

Here is one of the aforementioned unsuccessful 'sketch from life then develop' sketches. His form did get lost a bit ( although he really did look a bit sausagey in that position) but he had moved by then and I couldn't work out how to get it back. Still, the more I sketch him the better feel I will get for shapes and shading.


01-16-2015, 03:44 PM
Dogs, cats, birds, they can pose in the oddest positions. This looks great.

01-17-2015, 06:02 AM
Thanks Debby

Here is todays sketch of......yes, my dog. From life.

It did look a little better before he stood on it while it was drying. Guess he wasn't pleased with the likeness or maybe he was irritated that I had actually had time to sketch and colour while he was sleeping. Tried to save it but it became a bit forced.


Shannon Expat
01-17-2015, 10:28 AM

01-17-2015, 03:37 PM
Super napping sketch. Animals just want to be involved in what you are doing. :)

Joan T
01-17-2015, 05:59 PM
Belated Happy Birthday!!! Art supplies are such great gifts to get. I had to laugh at your excitement over the pencils sharpener, but I understand! Great sketches of your dog. I don't have any pets so drawing them isn't something I do very often. I have found myself sketching in PetCo. lol

01-18-2015, 09:45 AM
good one :)

01-19-2015, 03:39 PM
Thank you Shannon, Debby and Vivien.

Joan, thank you, and yes they are brilliant to get. I have also been given some birthday money- guess what I will spend that on..

This one is a mini watercolour sketch from a very mini photo. It was actually a bit odd using a photo- it didn't move at all!

I have never tried painting straight with watercolour before- no sketch. i thought it was a simple enough picture to try this with. I was, however, far too impatient and didn't wait until parts dried before I painted again. doh! Little gelly roll added after. About 3" x 3"


01-19-2015, 06:04 PM
Very cool little watercolor. Love the eyes.

01-20-2015, 07:59 AM
Thanks Debby

One day I will sketch something else, but for today:


01-20-2015, 01:33 PM
Absolutely nothing wrong with sketching your dog. I know of artists who have spent a year, just sketching their pet every day. Cute.

01-21-2015, 09:58 PM
You're doing great with your dog sketches. That's how I started getting good with other animals, my constant sketching my cat from life. When it's the same animal you do get the sausage pose and the coiled pose and all the different motions that same little body can do - and that makes it easier to get the fleeting gestures while it's bounding across the room. Also helps with the anatomy of completely unrelated quadrupeds and observation in general.

Your clothed figure doing tai chi or other exercise really worked. Well drawn. Sometimes lack of detail can let you get the gesture well.

Relax and enjoy it. Don't get self conscious about things like sketching the smurf figure or some sketch that didn't come out well. I date everything and post everything in order in my sketch thread. Every now and then something has finite perfection, more than that it's easier to see progress. The worst sketches often also have some breakthrough aspect about them that make them really work.

01-22-2015, 10:13 AM
Oooh, love the gestural quality of the last sketch of your dog!!!

Joan T
01-23-2015, 04:55 PM
If you have a good model, don't fight it...sketch away. lol Nice little watercolor and cute sketch of your dog. He must be exhausted from posing so much.

01-23-2015, 04:58 PM
He must be exhausted from posing so much.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

01-31-2015, 08:33 AM
Thank you all. Joan, he is the best model.

I haven't posted for a while as I spent a long weekend in Amsterdam for my 20th wedding anniversary ( i have now been married for half of my life!)

Unfortunately we came back home to a poorly dog so he has had all of my time and attention. He is on the mend now, thank goodness.

I did keep a journal whilst in Amsterdam but the sketches were all very quick ones done while my husband was on his phone or ipad.

The top of this one is out of proportion to the bottom but I was interested in the complexity of this bridge detail.


01-31-2015, 10:02 AM
Good one :)

01-31-2015, 01:34 PM
Great that you sketched while out and about. Congrats on 20 years.

Joan T
02-13-2015, 09:21 PM
Nice detail on this last one! Congrats on your special anniversary!

02-15-2015, 05:08 AM
Thank you Vivien, Debby and Joan. I am being spoilt this year. My mum has just booked for us all to go to Barcelona for a week at Easter ( our Christmas present!), so I should have the opportunity for more travel sketching. I will take better paper this time- as much as I love the pocket Moleskine covers ( bulletproof) and compact size the paper really isn't suitable for what I want. I just need to decide what to take instead. Any ideas for a compact sketchbook suitable for pencil, pitt brush pens and light washes?

I haven't had any sketches to post for a while as I was finishing off a coloured pencil piece which took a long time. Since then I have only done a quick pencil sketch for the CP Feb challenge and a couple of pastel sketches, but they are copies of others work so I didn't feel like I could post them.

02-15-2015, 02:40 PM
As long as it's light washes, the Stillman & Birn alpha series might be good. The smallest size is 4" x 6". If you are going to do heavier washes, I'd go with the beta series. However, it starts at size 5.5 x 8.5 for hardbound and 6 x 8 for wire bound. I am not associated with S&B in any way. I just like their product. :)

02-18-2015, 05:30 AM
Thanks Debby,

I will consider the Alpha. I have some of the S&B sketchbooks and I like them. I wonder how easy it would be to break in the 6 x 4 and what the pages would look like after. I have found that I can get big dots of glue along the middle of some of the pages. This might have more of an impact on a 6 x 4 than the 8 x 5 ish ones I have.

On the recommendation of Robert I have started reading through the colour lessons in the pastel learning forum. I haven't got very far yet as my daughters Art coursework needs to be handed in on Monday and I have been finding supplies for her and giving her some advice. She is WAY better than I ever was. The trouble is she is very ordered and precise with her work and, although she can produce amazing observational drawings, she struggles to do anything that reqires looser working. She is also a perfectionist, but has unfortunately not left herself enough time to produce perfection! She ends up stressing that she doesn't have time and freezes rather than getting something done. There is some tension...

Colour lesson 1

I didn't have even close to some of the recommended colours but made do...
This will mean very little to anyone who hasn't looked at the lessons, maybe not that much to anyone who has ;) . I used cheap sketch paper which made getting layers problematic, but it was enough to give me the idea.


02-18-2015, 07:39 AM
I agree about the S&B. I've taken them on several trips now and often work across double page spreads and never have problems with glue. They also bend back flat.

Beta and delta are my favourites and I've used everything on them! Wet water colour washes (no buckling unlike moleskine watercolour folio book that buckled horrifically and is unusable for me), pen and wash, charcoal, pastel, pencil, cp, eyeshadow! , Artbars, oil paint, acrylic ..... And a mix of various of these and more!

You can see the sketches here and on my sketchbook website (http://sitekreator.com/viviensketches/main_page.html)

02-18-2015, 03:32 PM
There is room for precise artwork in the art field. Many scientific drawings must be completely accurate. Don't know what to tell you about freezing rather than doing when there isn't enough time, other than to start early enough that there is enough time. Not always possible, I know. I remember delivering a product on December 35th. :lol:

Do yourself a favor and get some paper that will work better. You'd be amazed how much paper effects the final outcome. Don't know what you were trying to achieve with the picture, but the colors are cheerful. :)

02-18-2015, 03:49 PM
Thanks Debby,

She likes sketching, what she wants, when she wants and in the way she wants. Unfortunately at school she has to do what they want, when they want and in the way they want. They have done lots of sculpture and printing and she isn't at all keen. Although she is very good, I dont think she will want to do it as a career- she just wants the best grade she can get.

I do have better paper but I didn't want to use it for these lessons at the moment. I want to get a bit further into it and see if it is something I can get into. At the moment it is kind of interesting to read but I am tempted to just go on playing in my way. It is likely that I would get better results by focused study but I didn't really find it fun. Fun is seeing something I want to draw and just going for it and seeing what happens. Probably quite shortsighted of me.

02-21-2015, 12:38 AM
I remain in awe of how you are able to capture your dog when working from life. Either you are super quick or you have a wonderfully cooperative model. Well done on all of these!

02-21-2015, 10:40 AM
EP, thank you for your kind words. I haven't shown the many pages where I only get to draw a line before he gets up and moves!

I have decided that I have been trying too hard and have been trying to learn everything now instead of travelling at my own pace and enjoying the journey. Instead of continuing with the pastel colour lessons I have decided to play for a bit longer- I don't think I am ready for anything else.

I have, however, made mud mush out of a banana. I used Polychromos and Daler pastels and panicked when the Polychromos wouldn't go over the top (I have no yellow daler). I therefore, for reasons unknown, decided to use many other colours instead and unsurprisingly ended up with mud.


02-21-2015, 02:53 PM
The banana looks yellow, and the apple looks green. What mud? Looks great.

03-01-2015, 11:22 AM
Thanks Debby, but to be honest the picture makes it look better than it is. The shadows on the banana look way worse IRL. They are a completely different texture because I went over them so much.

I have been playing with pastels and even had another go at watercolour after someone generously let me sit in on a mini lesson they were giving someone else. This, however, is washed papermate flair pen. I used pencil first but dont think I will bother next time.


03-01-2015, 03:30 PM
The dog looks so comfy asleep like that.

03-02-2015, 07:09 AM
Ths is the 'on his back with feet in the air' pose that he so often does. Not sure if it comes across ok. I get it because I knowwhich bit is supposed to be foot and which is nose!


03-02-2015, 06:05 PM
It comes across fine. I want to rub his belly. :)

03-03-2015, 03:25 PM
A quick study from a pencil sketch with colour notes and a photo taken on a recent dog walk.

Sketchy but fun.


03-03-2015, 05:11 PM
Very atmospheric. :)

Joan T
03-17-2015, 09:36 PM
Love the inky wash!!!

04-28-2015, 02:16 AM
I really like your sketches of your dog, he seems to be quite the perfect model...

06-02-2015, 10:10 AM
Long time no post.

Door in Barcelona. I have a photo which shows it covered in graffitti so thought I would remove it for my sketch. Beautiful door both ways.


06-02-2015, 02:48 PM
Wonderful door sketch.

06-03-2015, 05:01 AM
Good one :)

06-03-2015, 02:09 PM
Thank you. I love the buildings In Barcelona ( not just the obvious ones) and hope to visit again sometime.

This sketch was done from a photo. It is of part of a fountain statue in Catalonia square.


06-03-2015, 03:02 PM

Joan T
06-03-2015, 05:22 PM
I like the door and the close up of the statue at the fountain. Nice!!

06-04-2015, 10:54 AM

A very simplified version of a view of the square. I started to add more detail then decided I didn't want it here.


06-04-2015, 02:27 PM
Artistic license to add or subtract from a scene. Good job.

06-08-2015, 09:41 PM
Just had a lovely time scrolling through your skeches. I love all the dog sketches. They have so much feeling and expression. Great to see them all.

Joan T
06-09-2015, 02:14 PM
Nice sketch of the seated people!

06-10-2015, 02:31 PM
Thank you Jacqui, Debby and Joan.

I have just been faffing over the last few days and trying out different paper samples. It is continuing to surprise me how much difference paper can make.


06-11-2015, 02:10 PM
Paper isn't often talked about as a critical element. It's not just what brand of paint or pencil or ink or brush, it's the surface you use as well. It is the marriage of the media on the surface (paper or otherwise) that helps or hinders and artist's ability to render their art.

Joan T
06-16-2015, 09:11 PM
Paper makes such a big difference. I find when I use lousy paper I get lousy results. lol

06-17-2015, 03:07 AM
Totally agreeing with Debby over the paper. It is crucial. That's why I always have several sketchbooks on the go ... different papers and sizes so I can choose the right one.

The man in the hat is particularly well caught :)

06-28-2015, 07:00 AM
Off on holiday again soon. I have packed my art kit -priorities and all. I am taking one book that is just for pencil/ pen which will be my journal with quick sketches. I have made another book that has my favourite papers from the ones I have sampled recently, so I will have paper for watercolour as well as some coloured paper. We are only away for a week but this way I will have a book family can look at and another which is just for me so I wont be afraid to try new things.

I am looking forward to visiting the sculpture park and will also attempt some beach sketches. Vhere's work is such an inspiration, but I don't really hold out much hope. Landscape is is my weakest out of a not particularly strong skill-set!

What I am really doing is trying to distract myself with art when I am actually thinking how much I will miss my dog.

06-28-2015, 07:15 AM
Awww thank you!