Lowering the Bar to Practice

There are three things that I try to do nearly every day: code, write, and sketch. Of the three, I struggle most with sketching.

It’s also the case that of the three, my sketching is the least developed. I am a professional programmer, and I have had some success writing professionally, but my sketching is (to be the most charitable) “advanced beginner”.

It’s also the case that I have spent orders of magnitude more time coding and writing than sketching.

This year, with my theme to Hone, I am committed to just making as many bad sketches as I can. Honing is sharpening by repetition.

So, I remembered a lesson from a sketching class I took a few years ago—warming up with blind sketches.

In a blind sketch, you look only at the subject and not at the paper at all. You may even decide not to lift the pen. You try to get a sense of the canvas with just your hand. Part of what you are developing is the skill of drawing what you see (the shapes and values in the space), and not symbols of what you see.

I use a big pen (1.0 mm) to make sure that ink makes it on the paper (since I am not looking, sometimes my thinner pens don’t always make marks) and to further lower the bar on the expected outcome.

These sketches are “easy to do” in the sense that I can do them at any time. I just draw what’s in front of me. Here are some pens:

I do a few of these and then I might move onto a longer sketch. But, even if all I do is some blind sketches, I’m ok with that.