Reference Sketching

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Why make a reference sketch?  In order to draw a subject, one is forced to consider it intently.  I find that I’m often surprised, while sketching, by what I hadn’t noticed prior to making the sketch.  In fact, the process of making a sketch can be valuable even if you also have a photograph, or only a photograph.  I didn’t have time to sketch the spoon handle above when I was in the room with the spoon.  At least I was able to refer to a photo later (Thanks, Eric.).  And through the process of making a sketch, I came to understand the piece better.

If you have concerns about your drawing ability, consider that the greatest value in such an exercise is in the process, not the final picture.  In fact, you may find that the seeing process involved in sketching locks the image in your mind so well, that there’s little need to look at the final sketch anyway.  Still, you might like it!

Mary Magdalene sculpture in Portland limestone by Lucy Churchill

But don’t take my word for it.  What really got me thinking more about all this was an insightful  blog post on sketching by stone carver Lucy Churchill.  I admire Lucy’s work and aesthetic.  You can explore Lucy’s work at her website.

And if you’d like to make your own personalized and beautiful sketchbook, check out this post by Eric Goodson.

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3 Responses to Reference Sketching

  1. Thank you so much David, it’s great to be in touch with such a like-mind! (Beautiful useful sketch by the way! 🙂 )

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  2. Eric Goodson says:

    Great post Dave, and a beautiful sketch. Such a good point about the value of sketching being in the process of looking, not necessarily in the final result.
    When I studied art history in high school often found myself sketching in class. At first I felt guilty. I feared I was having too much fun while the slides whizzed by, and worried that I was not taking sufficient notes to really grasp the pieces. But I did just fine in the class, and when my teacher saw my “notebook” he made some astute things about me being a “visual learner,” and encouraged me to keep going. Fast forward to college, where I majored in art history and spent hours in galleries “taking notes” on various works. Nothing like trying to sketch a Dutch still life to help you notice all the insane details. Obviously none of my sketches came close to Vermeer, but that was never the point…

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