Do You Experiment With Sketching Styles?

In the two years that I’ve been sketching I’ve actually developed a ‘style’, which surprises me somewhat as it seemed not long ago I was wondering if I would ever be able to draw anything, let alone have a ‘style.’

I like my style, which is more ‘illustrative’ than artistic.  Some might even claim it to be cartoonish.  I sometimes call it that.  In any case, when I sit down to draw something, the resultant sketch reflects that style.

My style has two drawbacks.  The first is that those who don’t speak sketcher try to fit it into ‘fine art’ and, well, it just doesn’t.  Some day ‘finished’ sketching will be acknowledged by the art community at large but so far, it’s tough slogging.   The other drawback to my style is that it’s not ‘fast’.  My sketches take longer than those done by people using looser, less detailed approaches.  This is not bad or good but sometimes it limits my ability to quickly capture a scene.

So, I sometimes experiment with quicker, looser ways of sketching.  Of course I do a fair amount of quick-sketching of people but here I’m talking about sketching things.  Here are a few examples of those attempts.

2013-07-30QuickBuildingsI did this little sketch of a piece of the Quebec City skyline, experimenting not only with very quick (only a couple minutes) sketch but also with a washable red ink.  I kinda-sorta liked the result.  It’s no more than two inches square.

Using the same pen/ink combo I decided to see if I could grab enough detail from a very complex hotel facade in 3-4 minutes to make me happy.  Can’t say this pleased me much but maybe…with lots of practice… naw…not working for me 🙂



Here’s another experiment.  It’s only about 2×2 and my thoughts were to do a quick, small sketch that could be part of a journal page.  I really would like to start adding annotations to some of my sketches and to that end I sketched this tiny house in about five minutes, including the watercolor.

I was sitting in a park in ‘lower town’ of Quebec City and there’s a row of buildings that look down on the park, trees filling the area in between.  I decided to quick-sketch it.  Probably took me 10-15 minutes, which for some is not ‘quick’ but if I were to do this with my ‘style’ it would take at least four times that long.

I sort of like the results.  The trees aren’t sufficiently developed for my taste and I hate restated lines on buildings (buildings aren’t supposed to look like they’re vibrating).  This one was done on two pages of a 3×5 notebook so it’s a bit larger than the others.


I’ll continue experimenting with different styles and approaches as I think I learn something every time I do it.  Who knows what my ‘style’ will be in another year.  Do you experiment with styles?

9 thoughts on “Do You Experiment With Sketching Styles?

  1. Oh, yes, I’ve certainly been trying different styles. Like you, the more illustrative style (what I call “neat and tidy”) comes more naturally to me, but I love the looser styles that I’ve seen from some sketchers (like those from Singapore, for example), with plenty of splashes and splatter to boot, so I’ve been nudging myself in that direction more. It certainly goes faster and feels freer, and even fun, but sometimes the lack of control still gets to me a little. I like both ways, I’m not ready to settle yet.

    • For me it’s more a matter of time. The ‘neat and tidy’ (I like that) approach simply takes longer than I have sometimes. I’m the opposite of you, though, as ‘loose’ seems ‘sloppy’ to me and thus is less fun. But like you, I like both ways and see no reason to have to choose.

      Cheers — Larry

  2. Oh, Larry, I meant to say that I like the result of your looser style of the Quebec City skyline (with the red washable ink). That is a wonderful example of what I think of as a loose style.

  3. I love that loose skyline sketch, too! Yeah, I seem to experiment with new styles every time I take a workshop. Occasionally a technique will “stick,” but usually I just fall back into my own style, whatever it happens to be. I think we can’t go looking for our styles. . . our styles find us. 🙂

    • Thanks, Tina. I’ve never gotten to take a workshop so I just look at how others do it and try their methods. You may be right about styles but I like to think I have some control over what I do. I hope to develop a couple styles I can call upon.

      Cheers — Larry

  4. I’d like to echo what Tina said (since I know her and that’s how I found your blog). 🙂
    I wrote something very similar in my sketchbook about a week ago: Style (whatever that means) is something that emerges and develops over time with practice (or reveals itself). You can’t define it; it can only define you.

    • Janine, what you say may well be true. It may also just be a platitude that has existed since time began. In either case, these sayings provide no direction and certainly no motivation to do anything. I’m a writer and there lots of people are waiting for their muse. Successful writers simply write.

      Should an artist sit around waiting for their ‘style’ to show up? That’s what you imply. I feel I should be a bit more proactive than that, which is why I experiment with styles, study the styles of others, etc. So, I guess, we’ll just have to agree to disagree..sort of (grin).

      Cheers — Larry

  5. I sketch in different styles. It depends on circumstances: how many time do I have, what do I sketch, how is my mood?

    I can take my fine BIC ballpoint and make a sketch in greyscales (hatchings), or I take my Lamy fountainpen and sketch in lines (maybe some dark shades here and there). When I have some more time I can even take my colour pencils and make a sketch all in colours, or I can make a watercolour sketch.

    Because I do not only sketch, but also make more detailed drawings and paintings (you can call it ‘studio art’, but I don’t have a studio), my style goes on and on developing…

    Have a nice sketch – Inge –

    • Good example of the use of multiple approaches and styles, Inge. This is exactly why I experiment. I’m not interested in replacing my style but rather adding one…or two…or three.

      Cheers — Larry

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