Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 5-5-5 Sketch Challenge

I often take time on a Sunday afternoon to go for a nice, long walk with our golden retriever, Buckley. We both love it, and it's a great way to get some exercise and spend time outdoors. A few weeks ago, I decided I'd throw my sketchbook and a few basic supplies into my backpack, and do a little sketching while I was out and about.

As Buck and I headed down the hill and into the woods, I had a great idea - I'd make a game out of it and challenge myself to spend no more than ten minutes on each sketch - five for drawing, and five for painting. And since I often spend way too much time walking around looking for the perfect scene to sketch, I decided to limit myself to only five minutes of walking time between sketch locations. After walking for five minutes, I would stop, look around, and draw something that I saw.

9" x 12", pencil, watercolor, and ink

For my first sketch, I sat on a fallen log and drew an old rusty fence that runs along our property line, working quickly to indicate just an impression of the woods, leaves, and trees. I managed to finish in ten minutes total, then I stuck my paints in my pack and let my open sketchbook air-dry as I walked on through the woods.

3-1/2" x 3-1/2" sketch (with Buckley's signature)

My next stop, five minutes later, was near a wet-weather spring where the ground was damp, so I perched precariously on a smallish rock, facing uphill to draw a mossy tree stump just a few feet away.

Intent on my picture, I tuned out the sounds of the birds and chipmunks and focused on applying splashes of color with my waterbrush. Suddenly, there was an explosion of paws, fur, and mud! A big slobbery dog was jumping on me (and my sketchbook), knocking me off my perch and flat onto my backside. There was mud in my paints and all over my sketchbook, not to mention my pants and jacket! Buckley was licking my face and trying to figure out if I was really okay, because, after all, it's not every day that he sees me sitting, or sprawling, as the case may be, on the forest floor. He's a very protective dog!

When, oh when, will I learn not to take Buckley along on a sketching walk? Invariably he tromps on the flowers I'm drawing or tries to climb into my lap, where I'm balancing my palette. But he's such a sweetheart that I can't get mad at him. He's just being a dog - a very large, friendly, rambunctious, and overly enthusiastic dog!

I picked myself up and managed to wipe most of the mud out of my palette and off my sketchbook. Heading up the hill to drier ground, I stopped after five minutes and painted these acorns lying on a bed of bright green moss...

That sketch turned out okay, but the next one I did was less successful. I had hiked up out of the woods and plopped down in the grass of the hayfield where I attempted to paint a dried up oak leaf that had been caught in the grass all winter. I'm afraid it's basically unrecognizable. Oh,well, they can't all be winners.

Buckley came running up to me as I was finishing my attempt at a maple leaf. I took one look at him and knew I had to make him the subject of the final sketch on the page. He looked like a two-toned dog - blonde on the top and muddy brown on the bottom. With wet mud dripping off of him, he smiled up at me as if to say, "This was so much fun! Can we do it again next Sunday?"

"Of course we can!"

Oh, and one more thing ... did I mention the other way I usually spend my Sunday afternoons?

Cleaning up one tired and very happy dirty dog.


  1. Great idea, and great quick sketches! You may not like the oak leaf sketch, but actually that is one of the first to draw my eye because of the lovely colors.

  2. This is a fabulous idea! Love your quick sketches!

  3. This sounds like a great idea. I may give this a try myself - and I don't have a dog to take along. :)

  4. Want to borrow mine? He makes it ever so much more interesting!

  5. This is a super idea. I'll have to give it a try. Even if I did one small square a day - it would be better than none!

  6. You're right, Claire. We're all so pressed for time, and it feels really good to get even a small sketch done. It relieves me of that nagging guilt that says "It's been AGES since you sketched anything!"

  7. I'm so glad this sketch page is here too.. I wanted to view this one enlarged too.. and now it is all so much lovelier!

  8. Very inspiring! I've often walked for hours looking for that "perfect" scene and ended up not drawing anything. I'll start your 5-5-5 tomorrow.

  9. I'm glad to hear you're going to give it a try, Guy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...