Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sharpie Pen Sketch-cast

I like to draw and used to be pretty good at it. I say, "used to be," because I got out of the habit. When I was a kid, I would spend hours drawing cars, airplanes and superheroes (often during school, to the consternation of my teachers.) In high school, I had some great art teachers who really encouraged me and helped me with some of the basics of sketching and portrait drawing. I did a lot of pen-and-ink stuff, usually of stylized muscle cars and caricatures of friends - a great way for a nerd to gain popularity.

Time passed and things changed - I went on to college where my interests shifted to girls and guitars (though I still loved cars). I still drew the occasional sketch but along came marriage, seminary, a first baby, church staff positions, two more kids, multiple dogs and cats, and life in general.

Recently, I decided to renew my old hobby of drawing (Warning! Mixed metaphors ahead!) and attempt to dust off my rusty skills. I'm already a pen and paper geek, so the tools were at hand. I've begun sketching some random things in pen (got the idea from David-Wasting-Paper, a wonderful blog about drawing) as opposed to pencil. I'm not worrying about mistakes so much as trying to regain my eye for proportion, perspective and detail. Mainly though, I am simply enjoying the pleasure of drawing. It's like visiting with an old friend I haven't seen for years.

Above is a simple sketch of the laptop upon which I produce this blog. It's your basic Dell Latitude in all its black and gray glory. I used a Sharpie Pen on a Doane Paper pad (the graph+line paper is great for drawings with lines and angles). To me, the Sharpie Pen is a good choice for drawing - it allows for a nice dark, yet fine line for sketching. It doesn't smear easily or feather. I found it very easy to control. I like it for drawing as it does not require much pressure, yet is very resistant to skipping. I actually like it better for drawing than for writing. Perhaps it is because I tend to work more slowly when I draw.

Just to be transparent, I do not consider myself to be any kind of authority on drawing - it's something I do for pleasure. Nor do I consider myself to be particularly talented. But I would encourage those of you who may hesitate to draw to go ahead - pick up a pen or pencil and draw something you happen to see: your laptop, your coffee mug, whatever. Don't worry if it isn't particularly "good." Keep at it and have fun with it. If nothing else, just begin to doodle in your Moleskine or whatever you have handy.

Most of all, relax and enjoy yourself.


  1. John, this is really good. You should definitely keep this up! If you enjoy this process of drawing the things around you, then you should check out two books by Danny Gregory; "Everyday Matters" and "An Illustrated Life." They are both very inspiring. I have actually given "Everyday Matters" 3 or 4 times as gifts to friends.

    I am really enjoying your blog and have added it to my bloglist.

    Keep drawing!

  2. Thanks, David - I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I'm still reading through it (up to sometime in mid-2009, I think). I very much enjoy your drawings and your interviews of cartoonists. I appreciate the book recommendations - I'll check them out on Amazon.

  3. (Sorry to clutter up your comments with this, but I couldn't find any email contact info.)

    Just wanted to let you know that Writing, Clear and Simple has moved from to

    You’re receiving this email because you have been kind enough to add a link to Writing, Clear and Simple to your site, and I would be grateful if you would update that link.

    Roy Jacobsen
    Idea Flow Specialist
    Writing, Clear and Simple

  4. I have got the very same computer ... I love seeing it portraited :-)

  5. Thanks - I stare at the thing so much, I should be able to draw it in my sleep!

  6. ... right. Or, I stare at that thing so much, that it itself should be able to portrait me and my staring glasses :-D

  7. I loved t! I have a journal in which similar sketches appear at times. I've never had the courage to show it to anyone!!! Somehow the drawing of what I am seeing at the moment helps me be a little more mindful, a little bit more aware of my life as it passes. And it trains my eye for new things. So honestly...not a bad return on investment! Keep drawing!

  8. Great looking sketch John. Get back in the saddle!

    - Doane