What to sketch today

Yesterday I came to the sad realization that my students are sketching more than I am (and turning out some very fine drawings too!) With my many hours of teaching and grading projects, I’m not finding as much time to draw as I would like, though. So I’ve made a little promise to myself, just like I did almost six years ago when I started this blog: to draw for at least 15 minutes every day.

After over 1,500 posts, the well of ideas for subjects to sketch can run dry. But the same old subject in a new place can give you inspiration. While reading Martin Gayford’s  Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud I came upon a reproduction of Freud’s painting of a man asleep on a bed with a dog. My dog Alice often sneaks up to my son’s room to have a nap on his bed, yet I always paint her on a cushion in my studio or on her bed in the kitchen. She seemed a bit curious when I pulled up a chair to draw her but quickly resumed her nap while I put in my drawing time.

And as an aside, if you are at all interested in the creative process, the Gayford book is a fascinating read, as is his A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney.


33 Comments on “What to sketch today”

  1. Mary Maness says:

    I love your drawings of Alice in particular!  


  2. Judy Sopher says:

    You were the one who has inspired me to draw daily, even if for a short time. But work does interfere with life and it s easy for me being retired.Have you drawn pictures of your son with the dog?


    • You are right Judy. I have been paralyzed by this workload. But it did feel good just to draw a bit today. And it made me less resentful of the grading…
      As for drawing my son, he moved out so I don’t get much chance to draw him. I don’t know if it is the same for you, but I have a hard time drawing people I know well. Maybe because I am too familiar with their faces, or maybe because I feel more pressure to achieve a likeness, but I am certainly more comfortable drawing strangers.


      • Judy Sopher says:

        Been thinking about drawing people you know and you are absolutely right. I love to draw people but capturing a likeness is not my talent.


  3. Paul says:

    Wonderful dog study, the beetle and football cushions didn’t go unnoticed either :o).


  4. Missy Walsh-Smith says:

    Beautiful! Sweet Alice to the rescue!


  5. Ineke says:

    That Alice is one smart dog. She sure knows how to make herself comfortable. And you are a wonderful sketcher!


  6. Dml says:

    Alice is quite famous in your followers’ eyes! As for your students, of course their drawings are great, look who they have for a teacher:)


  7. Jim Hancock says:

    Hey Shari, Your sketch just proves a simple pencil sketch, done well, is so beautiful in it’s own right! Jim Hancock

    Sent from my iPad



  8. A wonderful new portrait of Alice and “thirty lashings with a wet noodle” ( a saying my Latin teacher used to delight in using when we didn’t live up to expectation) as well; If you can sketch every day with your busy schedule none of us has any excuse to do less!


  9. Liliane Partikian says:

    Always a good subject….when they keep their position
    Always look forward to your post…thanks


    • Yes, keeping the position is always the problem. When I look at Lucian Freud’s paintings and read about how long they took to paint, I wonder how he did the dogs. I know the humans had to pose for weeks or even months.


  10. Soni McFarland says:

    I absolutely love your positioning of Alice in this – the composition and great drawing beautifully combined

    Decided to start painting all my adored well loved “studio pals” for afew minutes practice the other day ; it’s really satisfying on many unexpected levels !!!

    I’m wishing you all the spare time you can find


  11. Bernadette says:

    It’s so nice to see a pencil drawing well done and comfortable on the page. I recently bought a sketchbook but lack the determination to sketch daily. I must admit that the purchase has prompted me to draw but not daily. Your daily work encourages me to require decipline more of myself. Thanks for the encouragement.


    • Bernadette, you don’t have to draw daily like me. I am a bit of a compulsive nut. But having your sketchbook with you in a bag when you go out really helps you develop a good habit of drawing often. That is the advice I give my students. If it is accessible you will use it!


      • Bernadette says:

        Your words are very kind as well as inspiring. Truth rings in what you have said. I will not draw if I do not have tools available to use. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Thanks again.


  12. elena says:

    I just finished “A Bigger Message”. Really good and very inspiring to see how much simple drawing David Hockney does. It really seems to be his way of thinking.


  13. helena says:

    love all things dogs and Gayford! speaking of a bigger message, are you coming to see Hockney at the Met? hope so 🙂


  14. Thank you , just ordered “A Bigger Message”… looking forward to reading it soon. I enjoy your little sketches so much: they seem to be happening quite regularly, from from at your blog…


  15. How nice of Alice to be so cooperative and model for you while she napped. I am in awe that with your schedule you can find time every day to sketch. Love this cozy sketch.


  16. Janine says:

    Well, I think this post answers the question I’ve wanted to ask… whatever happened with the oil painting? I can guess what the answer is – too busy with work and family commitments. When/if you do have a moment, an update on that front would be nice. Enquiring minds want to know… Such a lovely sketch of Alice. She’s favorite of your regular models. 🙂


    • Ah Janine, I will get back to oil painting soon. But this semester is absolutely ridiculous in terms of the work I have to do with my students. I can barely keep my head above water. Thanks for checking in.


      • Janine says:

        I feared as much, that you are buried with too much work. I will look forward to an oil painting update whenever you get back to it. Meanwhile, your daily sketches continue to inspire, but esp. the fact that you get them done with all your other commitments. Hang in there, Shari. It will be Christmas break before we know it. 😉


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