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!
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.