“You are NOT a slave to reality!” -Amy

Okay, you’ve got your basic supplies in hand and mustered up the courage to get out there.  What now?

Pick a spot.
This involves finding some thing to draw as well as some place to sit. Don’t take all day to find the “perfect” situation. Find a subject that is interesting to you and then look at it from various points of view to find the best angle.  (Once my best angle was from above and I ended up sitting in a tree.  Whatever it takes people!)

The other option is to choose a comfortable place to plop down first and then pick your subject matter. This can be a very interesting exercise. Consider your choice may very well be something you find “ugly” or mundane at first.  Make it beautiful.

"Far from the fresh air farm" by William Glackens, 1911
“Far from the fresh air farm” by William Glackens, 1911


Here’s my spot.  Important Disclaimer: Since I can’t actually take you to Penang, Malaysia, I am forced to use photographic reference for my demonstration. Remember though, Location drawing is strictly from life!

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Begin your sketch.
Get a general idea of everything you want to include in your composition. Decide if your sketchbook or paper should be horizontal or vertical.  (In this case I chose vertical.) Map it out lightly using your pencil in the correct position.  Think of this early part of the sketch as pure exploration.  Move around freely.  As long as your lines are light, you will be able to override and make revisions to your composition.

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As I lightly sketch, I think about what is most important and where those things should occur in the composition.  In this case, it is the doorway and windows as well as the two chairs.  (I’m not actually sure that wooden thing in the back is in fact a chair, but I like the idea of a dialogue between the two so I’m making it so. This is what is referred to as “artistic license.”)

Revise and build up!

Use darker lines to emphasize, override, and make corrections. (I’ve changed the size of the big chair several times already.)

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Edit and emphasize!

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Leave stuff out if you want.  It’s more about how you see it than what it actually there.  (I’m not all that interested in those tall wooden things.) Spend more time on parts of the scene you find most interesting by adding emphasis, detail, and contrast.  Suggest rather than describe.  Simplify.

The “Getting Started Lesson” is well over but I’m going to take you through two more steps because I’m into it!

I added ink to some of the more important lines.

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Then I came back with pencil and did some shading.

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I used my eraser exactly two times.  One was to whiten around the door which is a dramatic focal point.  The other was to get rid of my original attempts at drawing the graffiti triangle.  I ended up not having enough room so I put it on top of the text instead.

Sometimes you just run out of time.  Sometimes you run out of gas.  Once in a while you’re actually satisfied.  Either way, it’s time to Celebrate!!