Monthly Archives: January 2017

Dog-walk Sketching: practise and spares.

It’s my habit when sketching on the dog walk to always carry a spare pen. Just like you carry a spare wheel in the car when driving or a puncture outfit when cycling. Because if you do only have one pen – it does this.

A leaking biro pen.
The thick black ink managed to creep out of the pen everywhere except at the ball point.

Don’t get annoyed.

I’d found a spot and had brought out my sketch book and BIC biro and had begun to draw. Then the pen stopped. Only then did I notice my black sticky fingers and the Ink leaking from the pen everywhere except where it’s supposed to. I was left in a frustrated mess with an aborted birth of a sketch and nothing to fix it with.

Incomplete sketch of a tess showing a trunk and mossy base.
I started drawing the tree at its mossy base and this was as far as I got.

I did get annoyed.

In a temper I jammed the useless pen into a gap in the tree bark, stuffed the sketchbook in my bag and stomped off home ignoring the dog.

Dogs and woods are good for you.

It is true. Green spaces and pets have a healing effect. I had an aborted drawing, sticky black fingers, and no spare pen, yet the environment worked its magic. I calmed down and went on to enjoy the walk, the morning, and throwing the stick. And the dog, as always, enjoyed chasing the stick.

Happy dog with a stick in its mouth in the frosty woods leaping over a fallen birch tree.
Happy dog returns with our stick in its mouth through the frosty grassy ferny woods and leaps over the fallen birch tree.

Sketching is practise.

I know that practise means failing so that you can improve. I know not to get annoyed when sketches go wrong. I know if I start making perfect drawings every time then I’ve stopped improving. I’m OK with making crap drawing because the few drawings that do work out are doubly rewarding.

Practise isn’t always about creativity.

Mechanical procedures, like having spare pens, are as much a part of learning as the sketching. Not having a spare pen took me by surprise. Just like when I got a puncture on a wee highland back road in the snow with no a spare wheel in the car. It taught me to always carry one.

I went back.

Before the dog and I got home I’d made my mind up that I’d go back the next day and do that drawing. And I would also recover the pen because I hate plastic crap left in the countryside. Perseverance. That’s what practise means. Practise: fail, fail again, fail again better, (repeat while keeping your brain engaged at all times).

The completed version of the sketch that I had aborted the previous day.
The tree sketch now completed and I redid it from the same viewpoint and began the drawing at the mossy base of the tree trunk to the left, the same spot as I started the aborted drawing. The dog whined the whole time. It’s never easy.