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The Hand Drawn Snapshot

September 13, 2015


I show a lot of ‘nice’ sketches on this blog. What I consider finished works. Things where I took a reasonable amount of time (45 minutes? an hour?). And things that often call for an easel and a watercolor kit. Today I wanted to show the opposite. Sketches that took 5 minutes or less. Drawn in a cheap 3×5″ pocket book with flimsy paper.

Sometimes when you’re travelling, you’re not in the mood for carrying your gear. Or you’re with people, and you don’t feel like asking everyone to wait for you. That’s when I go into snapshot mode. Drawing standing with two pens (my current favorites: a Platinum Carbon pen, and a Kuretake Sumi brushpen). Often I don’t even stop walking – getting the first few lines in, then doodling from memory while walking away. It doesn’t take any longer than pausing to take a photo. And I enjoy the feeling of filling up these tiny sketchbooks. The drawings are so fast, you can easily fill a book in an afternoon.

I enjoy these little booklets as keepsakes of the trip, and as small studies that I might paint from later. I might just take a detail – a boat I liked, or the shape of a palm tree, into a future studio painting. Mostly though, I just do them for the pure fun of it. Even if I never look back at them, every drawing builds your visual memory. Just like taking snapshots – probably they just go into your albums and lurk on your computer (or on my bookshelf) – but the act of taking them is a way of looking deeper at a place. It makes for lasting memories. And maybe when I’m old(er), those albums will come back out again. Who knows!

You can see the ‘for real’ paintings from this trip to Florida over here, and some more over here.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2015 12:02 PM

    Stunning work.

  2. September 13, 2015 1:49 PM

    How nice!

  3. September 13, 2015 2:38 PM

    Love these! I’m a big fan of carrying cheap little notebooks about everywhere – have been doing it a lot recently myself. Thanks for showing us yours!

  4. September 13, 2015 6:19 PM

    I imagine these journals can be very personal, I would never be brave enough to share my unpolished experiments! I wish more artists were so open about their process — I love the freedom in your sketches. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s incredibly inspirational!

  5. September 13, 2015 8:07 PM

    These look both incredible and sound like crazy fun. Should try it! I have tons of mental sketches and snapshots in my head but never really got down to sketching them!

  6. Norma permalink
    September 13, 2015 11:05 PM

    Hi Marc, today’s post was exactly what I needed to hear. Really appreciate you showing your process this way. This really helps seeing how this ties in with what you’re teaching in your traveling sketches lessons on Craftsy.

  7. September 14, 2015 1:19 PM

    Great idea – I need to give this a try! Thanks!

  8. September 14, 2015 2:40 PM

    This is great! I carry notebooks and often write things, but sketching pictures is a great idea. Love it!

  9. September 15, 2015 7:12 AM


  10. September 15, 2015 7:07 PM

    I so admire your work, the freshness and looseness. I’ve just checked on your Florida pieces, and since I live there must say you’ve captured the water, colors perfeclty. I’ve just taken a big interest in pen and watercolor after reading Liz Steel and I’ve been hooked. Now all I needed was your blog. ! Thanks for the advice on inks, I wanted one that doesn’t bleed.

  11. September 15, 2015 8:27 PM

    That is a really nice sketch!

  12. holmar58 permalink
    September 17, 2015 9:20 PM

    Amazing sketches!

  13. September 18, 2015 6:19 AM

    OH wow, the amount of detail in these sketches is amazing!

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