Off the Beaten Path

If you’re anything like me, the thought of urban sketching gives you a little twinge in your stomach. Where will I go? What will I sketch? Will people notice me sketching? What will they think? Thanks to Sketchbook Skool that twinge in my stomach is starting to get weaker over time.

Here’s a little story about a recent urban sketching experience I had to fulfill an assignment for Sketchbook Skool.

Assignment: Do an urban sketch with a strong focal point & minimal color.

I was on the road coming back from a video shoot for work & decided to go on a little lunch adventure. I drove right past all of the fast food chains on the highway & took the exit for Circleville, Ohio. I’ve only been there once or twice for their famous annual pumpkin festival. I had a tasty tuna salad croissant sandwich & some coffee at a charming little place called Scioto Valley Coffee while I did a quick sketch of the view out of the window.

Scioto Valley Coffee Sketch

Share your favorite urban sketching adventure in the comments!

Materials used:

  • New sketchbook I got for Christmas from my mom 🙂 (Artist’s Loft brand 6in x 8in)
  • Faber-Castell PITT artist pens (XS & S)
  • Winsor & Newton watercolors
  • Pentel waterbrushes

Sketchy Selfies

The Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp course included several selfie assignments. These assignments were challenging & caused me to ponder the role of self portraits in art history, the modern selfie phenomenon, & the differences between sketched selfies & ones snapped in a jiffy with a cell phone.

Some selfie tidbits:

“Although self-portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid-15th century that artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work.” (Wikipedia)

“Your model for self portraits is the most patient one ever, and won’t be offended by the results. Unless you have a split personality, but that’s a whole different problem.” (Koosje Koene from Sketchbook Skool Seeing Lesson 2.4)

“Rather than dismissing the trend as a side effect of digital culture or a sad form of exhibitionism, maybe we’re better off seeing selfies for what they are at their best — a kind of visual diary, a way to mark our short existence and hold it up to others as proof that we were here. The rest, of course, is open to interpretation.”  (Jenna Wortham, The New York Times)

Personally, having done both, I think drawn selfies are much more enlightening than photographed selfies.

Fast & Slow Selfie

Assignment: Paint a selfie with watercolor in 60 seconds, then sketch over it with pen slowly to add details (30 mins).

Selfie of Fast & Slow Selfie

Taking a selfie of my fast & slow selfie.

Continual line selfie

Assignment: Draw a continual line selfie (AKA – Don’t pick up your pen).

Memory & Imagination Selfies

Left: Selfie drawn from memory (no mirrors or photos allowed). First sketch with my Sheaffer fountain pen!

Right: Used my reflection in the mirror as a reference & added the buttons for the imaginative element since my dad always told me that I had a little button nose & a little button chin.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about selfies!

“Study of Hands”

Have you ever looked at some of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical sketches? They’re amazing! When we were given the assignment in Sketchbook Skool to draw a loose sketch of a famous piece of art & document our observations, I opted for da Vinci’s “Study of Hands”.

Study of Hands

Share some interesting observations you’ve made about a drawing or painting.


Yes, believe it or not, that title stands for “Thank God its Monday”. It was a long emotional week last week & I was reluctant to make this post out of fear of being a “Debbie Downer”. But, here goes…

Reflection about dad 1-27-15

Reflecting about my dad.

Zimmer Soccer Teams

This was an assignment for Sketchbook Skool (, we had to draw our personal history. I decided to compare two family soccer team photos taken about 6 years apart. The photo on the top was my older sister Kara’s team coached by my parents when they were still married. The bittersweet photo on the bottom was my team coached by my divorced parents together for the last time I believe. I decided to keep the emphasis on my parents, my sister, & myself & let the other children fade into the background.

Do you ever use sketching for emotional healing? The next post will be a happy one, promise!