The importance of sketching

Beddgelert Sketchbook
Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Pen and watercolour sketch by Jenny Keal
(click on picture for larger view)
This sketch of the back of the houses along the river in Beddgelert was done during our last painting course at Sygun Fawr Hotel. The initial outlines were drawn with a Sepia Pitt pen size S and then the watercolour washes were added. Some of the washes were done on the spot and I finished them off back in the hotel.David and I believe that the single most useful thing you can do to improve your painting is to take up sketching. Drawing and painting outdoors in front of your subject brings many benefits with it. Not only getting out and about in the fresh air, and having a little exercise if you are able to walk, but being in front of your subject instead of working only from a photograph means you are able to move around and get the best viewpoint, or sketch from several different angles to get any hidden details, and get closer to see details not apparent in a photograph.Photographs are not particularly good at capturing atmosphere and recession but when you are outside looking at a scene, half closing your eyes will reveal the tonal and colour differences between the distant and closer objects.

Sketching in watercolour or pen and wash is a very quick way to capture colour and tone out of doors and it has the added benefit of loosening up your painting style. After all it is only a sketch and not intended for exhibition and because your time is limited it is not so easy to overwork it. You can learn a lot from sketching in watercolour.

Even if you are not particularly mobile, if it is possible for you to get out and enjoy nature, do try and do some sketching out of doors. I’m convinced you will find it improves your work.

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