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One of the best tools for creating successful art pieces is to use your sketchbook as a preliminary planning stage.  Here is an opportunity for you to be developing, refining and gaining confidence in the image you are putting together.  Why not make your sketchbook a “no pressure zone”?

I was fortunate to learn this technique from my first drawing teacher.  I was given an assignment to practice drawing multiple images of my German Shepherd.  I recognized spending time in the sketchbook before working on “good” paper provides multiple benefits.  You can do a rough sketch to play around with your subject seeing what it looks like.  You can shift and change this while you are developing the image.  You can refine the composition and gain confidence that the image will be successful.

My sketchbook is the  “no pressure zone” for playing around and getting a good look at my ideas before moving forward.  This preliminary sketchbook time provides me with time for practicing my drawing skills without erasing, loosing the critical self and easily turning the page to move in a successful direction with my images.  This preliminary sketchbook page gave me a feel for what the image would look like.  You will notice some changes were made on the final watercolor image.


  1. Lindsey Carter says:

    I love your use of the phrase to describe your sketchbook as a “no pressure zone”. I also, specifically remember the time when I discovered that. Before then, I had such a perfectionist approach to drawing and sketching, that I refrained from practicing often and putting my pencil to the page! Quickly I learned that it’s in those moments of “risk” on paper where many of my most memorable creative moments have grown out of.
    So…I agree, sketch and sketch some more!

    • drawinghand says:

      Hello Lindsey,
      Yes, that perfectionist self can sneak in and slow our progress and practicing down. I will often put a drawing piece away before it is finished because my critical self is screaming at me. Going back to the drawing at a later time, I can see the good qualities and finish it up! Prof. Stephanie

  2. Jacqueline Liberio says:

    I like the idea of preliminary sketch book time but I have a feeling that my preliminary sketch might have qualities that I would end up happy with that would be difficult to replicate on a more structured piece. I see your work and it makes me really look forward to the marker class to where we can learn how to incorporate color into our work. Don’t me wrong, black and white can be beautiful too, but color really helps make an image stand out and become more real.

    • drawinghand says:

      You are so right about color, it is an amazing part of an image. I have needed to practice my drawing by keeping it simple, just the black line marker. Adding color takes thought and color theory knowledge to be effective. It will be great fun to work with color this summer in the marker class. Prof. Stephanie

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