Getting Better

Why don’t I draw better? I have kept a sketchbook for nearly 50 years but have not progressed much in my ability to tell a story through image.

As I retire from a career in education, I plan to apply what I know about improving learning to improving my own work as a sketchbook artist. It has been widely observed that many of us improve to a point and then do not improve further. The thinking is that improvement requires clear goals, deliberate practice, and feedback- which means doing more than just what we already enjoy doing.

Through this blog I plan to apply what I know about improving learning to getting better as a sketchbook artist.

I am a believer in the importance of clear goals with specific criteria for success, practice directed at the criteria and feedback about the outcome of the practice. I have seen first hand what a difference these can make to learners in a classroom. A question I am investigating is, Can I use these principles to improve my sketches?

I plan to apply these principles to my goal of communicating ideas through images by improving my technical skills with compositional elements- line, gesture, value, color, light, arrangement, facial expression, exaggeration, realism, and abstraction.

My method will be to select an element to study each week. I will decide on a learning goal, establish success criteria for the goal and then practice it throughout the week. I will blog about my learning and seek feedback from myself and others. As a result, I will be expecting fluency and effectiveness as an expressive artist.

This week I am working on showing non-verbal communication through the body language and facial expressions of the people in my sketches. I selected this first week’s focus because this is the whole point for me of keeping a sketchbook journal. Keeping a sketchbook is a way of thinking about my life and just as a writer searches for the most effective way to say something, I search for the most effective way to show something. I want to convey my thinking well.  This is the big idea of a sketchbook.

Here is a pen and watercolor sketch in a small Moleskine watercolor sketchbook I did at a coffee shop yesterday.

coffee shop 4

I was trying to catch the interaction between the customer and the barista. There were spoken and unspoken questions. I thought to capture them through the body language of the barista and the facial expression of the customer. I should have had the barista lean back a little more, perhaps by causing her left arm to go behind her back. And more variation in the facial color of the customer might have worked better.

About Sarah Sullivan

https://deliberatesketch.com/about-me/
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