View Full Version : Instructional Resources Related Directly or Indirectly to Sketching

Van Gough
01-10-2016, 10:15 PM
Hi Everyone,

I have lots of sketchbooks....lots of EMPTY sketchbooks.
I'm what you might call a sketchbook horder.(totally kidding)
I have bought a few that were on sale.
And I have one of the now unavailable Fabriano multicolor journals.
I don't know whether to use it or sell it on Ebay in a few years as
an antique.(again kidding)
Actually truth be told I bought the Fabriano years ago after meeting
an artist in a coffee shop. He was using the Fabriano. I was mesmerized
by is work. He was doing some drawings with(If I remember correctly)
ink and w-a-x(?) Does that make sense to anyone?

Anyway on to the topic at hand:

Do you guys have have resources (books/dvd/online)that have
helped you and/or inspired you to sketch.
I'm also referring to resources that are indirectly related to
sketching that really worked well when trying to work from life.
Things like perspective, figure proportions, maps to local Starbucks etc.:D

Or do you all just fly by the seat of your pants?:D

Thanks in advance


Minerva C
01-11-2016, 12:09 AM
Hi, this webbsite inspires me:


There could be a local urban sketchers group where you live.

01-11-2016, 06:40 PM
Minerva has a good suggestion.

If you want a book "Artist's Journal Workshop" by Cathy Johnson is inspirational.

01-12-2016, 05:18 AM
Any by John Blockley (https://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A9mSs27n0pRWGKMArKKA3YlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByZmVxM3N0BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--?p=John+Blockley+Paintings&fr=ipad), I devoured anything by him when I went back to painting after a break with young children.

A friend wrote an excellent book last year, packed with information ( and 3 of my sketches!). Painting 365 by Katherine Tyrrell.

On colour theory the best I've seen is Jeanne Dobie, Making Color Sing.

Anne Blockley, daughter of John has also done some good recent ones ( not her older ones for me, she's more experimental now).

01-13-2016, 08:31 AM
It's been discontinued but years ago I bought the Leonardo da Vinci Sketchbook. It's a large bound sketchbook with thin good quality acid free paper and a sixteen page illustrated essay on da Vinci's drawings. I love the essay and I love being able to copy the drawings. Rereading it also inspires me to look for more online. The only inconvenience is that copying the drawings has to go in another sketchbook because I'm turning pages to look at the source or work on my drawing.

Look for it on Amazon or eBay, snap it up even if someone else drew in a used copy. Heck, they might even have been good and their sketches teach something too!

Still In Print:

Drawing the Head and Figure
Cartooning the Head and Figure
How to Draw Animals
Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes

all by Jack Hamm, each about $10 at Dover. I love those books. They're a complete drawing course and go into everything about drawing and sketching except color. There are a number of good sketching methods explored in the lessons. Warning - these books are very information dense. They're not an entertaining read unless you're really in that mood. They are indexed. Best way to use them I've found is skim to get an idea of it but not worry about trying to remember it all, then look up what I'm trying to do at the moment, from "sketch noses" to "drawing black hair" or "waves" or whatever. Or you can start one and systematically work through copying and doing each lesson till you're used to that thing and then move on. Basically just pay attention to the page you're on instead of trying to swallow the whole book at once.

I have bought and worn out several copies of each of these books.

There's a lot of good stuff about sketching in James Gurney's "Imaginative Realism" and "Color for the Realist Painter." He's sketching before painting so that goes to simplifying and not drawing slowly.

Carl Purcell "Your Artist's Brain" is a fantastic book that covers sketching well among many other topics, that was one of the things that helped crack my habit of careful drawing vs. sketching loosely.

Also anything on gesture drawing or plein air might help. What I found helped my sketching most was trying to sketch from life from moving targets like my cat, or short-short timed gesture sketches with human models. Use an egg timer and stop when it dings or the sand runs out. Just do lots and lots of fast sketches and that improves sketching more than you'd expect.

Daily Sketching is another thing that fills empty sketchbooks. Forcing myself to at least do a 2 minute gesture of my cat every day sometimes resulted in page after page of good sketches. The thing is to do it with whatever's at hand and accept lousy sketches as fine. Just do it and date it.

The more fast ones you do and date, the easier it is to see progress toward the point that sketching becomes fun - the point that you have a category of easy subjects like "my cat asleep" that can be done even from memory or whenever you see it or when you feel lazy. Instead of noodling over each drawing being good, only try to get it right while doing it and don't hesitate, just keep going. Some people don't erase, and I sometimes use pen for that reason - it's ok to draw five legged cats or three armed people and still works as a sketch. You can see which limb looks better.

Lots of practice, but carved down into very short practices results in more accuracy and something people started saying about my art a few years ago. That it's bold or decisive. I managed to quit worrying about whether it's any good by not worrying about whether a 2 minute gesture was good because I knew I could do it over and get it right on the next few tries - and be happy with "better" instead of "perfect to my original idea." That turns mistakes into "cool I can do something different with it" like shading heavy over the extra leg and so on.

Van Gough
01-13-2016, 09:09 AM
THanks Everyone,

The John Blockley paintings are amazing.
I just bought his book on pastel painting.
But I had never looked up all his painting like that in a google search.
So cool!

These are all really great suggestions.

I came across a caricature artist on youtube name Will Terrell.
He has two videos called five tips for better drawing.

I will definitely take a look at all these resources.:cool:

01-13-2016, 09:21 AM
Caricaturists are great at that kind of sketching, totally makes sense.

On ArtistsNetworkTV, there's a video on Pen & Wash by Wendy Jelbert that helped me a lot transitioning from "draw slow and accurate" to "fill sketchbooks." I did some of her exercises, liked the powerful effect and started using it. Pen and wash has a big advantage - no erasing, but I get all the shading with a water brush so I don't noodle over values at all. Any watersoluble pen works well and any paper that accepts light washes.

Saint Ragdoll
01-19-2016, 09:34 PM
The book " Fast Sketching Techniques" by David Rankin is a wonderful book for teaching a person to sketch things, to get down the essence of the subject, in a short amount of time, by really observing them. This is great for drawing subjects that move. This book is recommended for urban sketchers.
I also like " Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". I have worn out several copies of this book. I go back and do some of the exercises in the book when I have not been able to draw for awhile, as a refresher course. I love this book the most for dispelling the myth that being able to draw is a talent, some people have it and some don't. This is what I thought for years. This book made me really believe that drawing is a skill and can be taught and can be learned. The key is practice.
The books by Ewa Karpenska and Jean Louis Morrell ( I can't remember the titles right now, they only wrote one book each) have influenced me most as a water color painter. I aspire to paint something like the way they paint, Google them, their work is amazing. They have a style I call " extermely loose wet in wet".......Ewa Karpenska's book is about the amount of water on the paper and now thick or thin hour watercolor paint is when it goes on the different degrees of wetness of paper. It's all about knowing how wet your paper is, and how think your watercolor paint is that makes the painting sucessful. Every time I read these books I see something I hadn't seen before.
I would give just about anything to find a teacher of this style. The closest I have seen is Jean Haines,( her books and DVDs are very good too) and I am lucky enough to be able to take a workshop,with her this coming Fall. I have Jean Haines DVDs and books so will be busy practicing using something of her loose, wet in wet style.

Saint Ragdoll

01-19-2016, 09:50 PM
this thread has encouraged me to sketch:

wetcanvas...and the next sketch is....


01-21-2016, 02:42 PM
These have been great suggestions. Hope to see your work soon :)

Deborah Susan Hill
01-23-2016, 02:00 PM
Hi there! I have been active in other areas of wet canvas in the monthly challenges and decided that I wanted a Nice hardbound leather journal. The type I wanted was out of my price range, so I decided to make my own from scratch, by hand. I watched Jimmy Diresta's bookbinding tutorials on youtube and was able to throw together a journal in a couple of days using a coptic stitched sewing method so the pages would all lie flat when the book is opened to draw in. The resulting book though far from perfect , turned out fairly well, even with its rough edges and occasional stitching errors. I'll Post pics if I can manage to with this danged IPAD.

Deborah Susan Hill
01-23-2016, 02:10 PM
Here's a few more pics of the journal, I hope.

Deborah Susan Hill
01-23-2016, 02:13 PM
and another pic.

Deborah Susan Hill
01-23-2016, 02:15 PM
And another pic.

Deborah Susan Hill
01-23-2016, 02:18 PM
one final pic. There! That does it, the pics seem to have posted! C&C welcome and always appreciated. The journal consists of 24 8x11inch sheets (48 pages) of Strathmore 140lb.300 GSM Rough paper. The leather is 4 oz. Chocolate brown Italian top grain leather. I am working on a smaller one with arches paper currently that alternates between arches 140lb./300GSM cold pressed paper and Arches 140lb./300 GSM Rough paper in each signature. I finished the stitching of the pages last night and will work up the rest of the binding today. The sixty four page set of sewn signatures measure 6x9inches. This one has fewer stitching errors and is coming along well. I Haven't decided what I'll emboss on the cover of this one yet, But it should go faster now that I have an Idea of how to go about it. As Always, Deb Hill:wave::wave:

Deborah Susan Hill
01-25-2016, 04:49 AM
2nd handmade watercolor journal. 6x9 inches. 32 sheets/64 pages Arches 140lb. 300GSM Rough and cold pressed paper on alternating sheets. 3 OZ. chocolate brown lambskin. Embossed cover. Still far from perfect, though fewer mistakes in the stitching this time. As Always, Deb Hill

01-25-2016, 02:51 PM
Lovely. Practice will get you better on the stitching. :) I know.

Deborah Susan Hill
01-25-2016, 06:58 PM
These are first attempts, but for a hand sewn hand embossed and bound leather journal they will serve their purpose, which is mainly as a sketch book. I have quite a bit of leather left yet so I will be sewing up some more. I doubt that I will ever need to buy a mass produced journal at this point as I have a huge amount of watercolor and drawing paper and making my own sketchbooks and journals is proving to be more fun. As always, Deb Hill

01-25-2016, 08:34 PM