Too busy? Love to draw? Or love the idea of drawing but never get round to it because you are too busy?

This is another reason I adore sketching. Not only is it one of the most versatile artforms out there, you choose how much time you can dedicate to it!  A literal 5 minutes a day or longer.

Have you ever considered starting your approach with 5-10 minute sketches? In my former posts on formatting the sketchbook page I talk about considering what type of day you may have. I realised that my busy lifestyle meant that I was sketching quickly across the course of the day on a sketchbook page. I formatted my page to accommodate a series of short sketches.  Its a great solution to being too busy to draw.

What started out as a way of squeezing time in for myself across the course of the day has now become a skill. A skill almost as fast as writing a journal entry – only this time as a sketch that encapsulates as much meaning as a page of writing and conjures instantaneous memories and associations.

I hope you watched my attached video that quickly shows you 5 – 10 minute sketch entries. You can head over to my social media pages to check out more quick sketches and the stories that accompany them.  I’m hoping that they inspire you to see how achievable this technique is in the pages of your sketchbooks.

If you are eager to try this technique then here are my top tips which you can implement straight away;

  1. Keep it minimalist. By this I mean start with a small sketchbook or start with a piece of paper (however large) with the intention of keeping activity minimal and realistic within a 5 minute window.
  2. Start by keeping the subject relatively simple. Simple lines and shapes, and a few colours if you have time, (colour can accentuate what a line does not), and use ink if you feel confident enough as you can’t rub out.
  3. Hide your rubber (or for my American readers, eraser) and just draw!
  4. Use your sketch to tell a story. If you write about a situation in your day have you ever considered what a 5 minute sketch would look like? It may not necessarily be an object or person, but a feeling or colour or a sketch symbolic to you that marks the story you want to record. I oftentimes make notes as if a sketch is part of my journal entry.
  5. Did you know that this technique supports the first basic principle of drawing? The perception of edges. It supports you draw and frame a subject. Contour drawing was pioneered by Kimon Nicolaides in his 1941 book, The Natural Way to Draw.  As he phrases it, imagine you are touching the edge of what you are drawing. This supports you see and draw at the same time. You are on your way to reproducing a 3d shape on 2d paper.
  6. Look at the object more than the subject. If you’re feeling brave enough, cover your drawing whilst you sketch so you can’t see what you are drawing. I always recall Henry Moore’s Underground Shelter Drawings that he sketched during the war, often in the pitch dark and with a light wax crayon. He might as well have had his eyes closed for some of these sketches. You can find a link to one here. He became an official war artist on the merit of these underground sketches.
  7. The other technique that I employ in these sketches is something called anchoring. I mark my page initially with tiny dots to get a sense of spacing, I look for clues in my object. I start somewhere that has some detail and my sketch then moves from that point in – a chain of sketching activity from one point to the next, judging spacing, angles, length of lines and so on.
  8. Don’t strive for perfect, strive for finding your style. Keep practising and keep sketching.

Last but not least. Practise makes perfect. Go easy if you are just starting out. Your sketching technique will improve and your style develop the more you practise.

If you’re keen to learn more about improving your sketching why not join my community here!