Extreme Sketching: The Final Chapter

I did a blog post a while ago about what I called “extreme sketching.”  It was an idea that originated from Marc Taro Holmes.  We were going out, in mid-winter Quebec temperatures and doing five minute sketches in a small format.  Marc is quite good at it.  Me, not so much.

But it was a great exercise.  I struggle to hold a small sketchbook in one hand, while drawing with the other.  For some reason I just can’t slow the sketchbook down and the results are impacted a lot by both the sketchbook and the pen moving at the same time.  I was hoping to practice that enough to eliminate the problem.  I did not.

I also wanted more time quick-sketching.  I do a lot of quick people sketches but I don’t quick-sketch buildings or street scenes.  To get a good drawing I have to look at my subject for the better part of five minutes, thinking only about the proportions and relative locations of things before I start drawing.  All of those processes must be abandoned if I’m going to do the entire sketch in five minutes.  I do think I improved upon this because of this exercise, but I’m not sure how much.   I also haven’t figured out how to draw snow with a pen and so I ended up with lots of cottonballs in front of my buildings.

The other thing I wanted to do was to just get outside sketching.  This I accomplished.  I ran this experiment down to -20C (-5F).  When it got colder than that, I gave up.  I’m a sissy when it comes to cold.  But I did manage to do fifty of these sketches, nearly filling a small Stillman & Birn Epsilon softcover book.  I’ll probably do some more this summer, when it’s not so cold.  Here are a few of the sketches I did beyond the ones I posted previously.

Do you do crazy things like this?  I hope so.  I don’t want to be the only one.


8 thoughts on “Extreme Sketching: The Final Chapter

  1. Oh you are not the only one ! I met up with my friend Roger yesterday for a trip to Galt (Cambridge,ON)
    I assumed the weather was going to be ‘spring-like’ and dressed accordingly.
    It wasn’t…
    So I (we) froze for hours wandering the mean streets but all in all we had a good time hiding in doorways to avoid the wind !


    • I guess it’s just what those of us who live in cold climates do. We sure can’t complain this winter, though. The last week or so has been downright spring-like. Then the freezing rain came to Quebec City. I wonder how sketching on skates would work (grin)?

    • In spite of the cold, it was fun. The results, however, leave much to be desired. BTW, those astronomy apps are fantastic. Wish I had some darker skies to use them with.

  2. I’m a sissy when it comes to the cold also. I just don’t enjoy sketching when I’m miserable. These look amazing and I’m surprised you did them in 5 minutes. I have the hardest time with straight lines and have trouble sketching any building in under an hour. Well done!

    • It’s said that straight lines have little life. I live by that view so I don’t have to feel bad about not being able to draw them 🙂 Have you watched any of Peter Sheeler’s YouTube videos? He may provide you a solution as he draws his ‘straight lines’ as a series of shorter segments and, truthfully, they look better than if he’d draw a building edge as a single straight line.

      As for the cold, one of the advantage of the “extreme sketching” thing I did is that I was only standing for 5-min at a time. Between those times I was walking and that and my heavy coat kept me pretty warm.

  3. Larry, you da man when it comes to sketching in the cold! I did, however, sketch in the rain with my waterproof Expedition sketchbook — does that count? 😉

    – Tina

    • I read about your adventures in the rain. No thanks. We sketchers are sure weird.

      Aside: Have you ever tried shopping for red paper? I ask because Koosje Koone recently posted an ink sketch done on purple paper. I went looking for some but Canson MiTeintes doesn’t seem to have a purple in their line. But I was in the university art coop and they had 11×17 coverstock (not as thick as FN covers but thicker than their 70# paper) in purple and in red. Cost per sheet was 0.39CDN. I cut the sheets in half but you could cut them in quarters and still have 5.5×8 sheets. Easy-peasy to make a 4×6 staplebound with the stuff. Anyways, I thought I’d mention it to you as a possibility.

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