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Sketchbook Drawing, the Importance of Visual Vocabulary

Updated on August 3, 2012
Charcoal sketch of house on my street at dusk.  Sketches don't have to be perfect!
Charcoal sketch of house on my street at dusk. Sketches don't have to be perfect! | Source

Draw, Draw, Draw, Sketch, Sketch, Sketch

I guess this title makes it pretty clear; keep drawing and keep drawing anywhere you can, but especially in your sketchbook. From start to finish a sketchbook will give you a visual history of what you're interested in and how you are progressing. I am still improving and I have been drawing for years. It never ends. But, it is never boring. Drawing will keep you engaged in what's going on around you. Flex your sketching and composition muscles everyday. Even if you are more of a 3-d dimensional artist, sketching encourages you to look at things honestly. You'll know immediately if you haven't got it quite right. So what? Rome really wasn't built in a day!

When I look back at my sketchbooks which are usually dated throughout, I am always amused by some of the sketches I tend to make. They're usually humorous, editorial, or dreamy. Sketchbook time is play time for me. I freely draw whatever enters my mind with whatever medium suits my fancy at that time. Some days I'm really into color pencil and marker, other times water color, pastel another day, or, graphite pencil the next. You name the medium and I have probably worked with it.You can tell when I'm bored and when I'm really onto something. I love scribbling, doodling and serious drawing equally. Scribbling allows me to really loosen up, In a way it's like graffiti, only I'm not writing words or poems, just sharp edged shapes. Doodling shows I have something on my mind including trees, tropical flowers, mountains, fish, cats; it really could be anything. Sometimes I actually put a real object in front of me and sit down to a serious session of drawing. Do you know that I still practice ellipses after all these years? Yes, I still struggle with these. They are my constant challenge. Every artist has one. What's yours?

Sometimes my drawings are so off kilter they remind me of some deranged cartoon world and other times my drawings are spot on. The point of keeping a sketch book is not to strive for perfection, but to strive for understanding your world through sketching. Keep on sketching and you'll only get better. It would be great to ask Charles Schultz about sketching. Charles Schultz of Peanuts fame loved to sketch. He would sketch out his day and his experiences from childhood on up, and it became a great collection of work.

Creating a Catalog of Visual Vocabulary

Build your visual vocabulary and you will draw, sculpt, design and paint naturally, not having to refer back to your subject simply because you already know it through observation and sketching. The ease or trouble with which you render a drawing will show. Even excellent paintings or drawings will reveal the strain of somebody not familiar with their subject matter. With practice, you will already have this subject in your head. Drawing a person holding a mug? You may ask yourself "how does his hand look holding onto that mug?" If you've done your homework, this particular hand position will be in your memory bank. No photo reference required! You've drawn that hand numerous times and now all of that observation and sketching has paid off. With your vast knowledge of how a hand bends or moves, the hand holding the mug will look convincing whether it is a cartoon, illustration, a realistic drawing, or an abstract composition.

How do cartoonist draw their characters accurately and convincingly day after day? Trust me, if they are creating a cartoon about a cat, they have drawn hundreds of real cats doing cat things. They thoroughly understand their subject. They probably have a goofy exaggeration of a cat in the back of their mind before beginning their cartoon character. But before any of that begins, they have drawn a cat hundreds of different ways.

That's really all there is to it. Draw everything and anything, and draw often, you never know what will end up in your next great artwork or cartoon!

I had turtles on my mind.  Mixed media sketch; watercolor with oil pastel.  The oil pastel acts as a resist.
I had turtles on my mind. Mixed media sketch; watercolor with oil pastel. The oil pastel acts as a resist. | Source

The Pure Pleasure of Mark Making

I don't know why, but I really enjoy mark making with anything. Sometimes the chunkier the drawing implement the better. Drawing this way precludes you from being tight in your approach. Don't correct or edit yourself, just draw whatever is on your mind or in your heart or on the tip of your tongue. Its a wonderful way to let loose. A lot like diving into the deep end of the pool. A world of wonders and sensations awaits. Happy Drawing to you!

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    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image
      Author

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Yup, and I am going out right now to do some photographs:)

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I think drawing/sketching/painting, is just like most things - you need to build the muscle (eye/hand) and muscle memory to improve. I'm finding that's the case with photography, and also with learning an instrument. And daily practice is key!

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image
      Author

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Hi Peanutritious,

      Glad you liked the hub. I tell my students to draw and then draw some more to create an image bank in their mind:) Get your sketchbook out soon!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      This was very interesting. My degree is in fine art. I went on Teaching English abroad then English and Drama in the UK. I have had a yearning for a while to get my sketch book out and have bought charcoal, paint etc. This hub hads made me want to stop procrastinating and actually do it! Thank you1 Voted up.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image
      Author

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Hi galaxy1000. Thanks for stopping by and I hope it was useful to you.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image
      Author

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Hi Dbro,

      I'm glad you liked the hub. And , you're right drawing is the foundation for all artistic expression. Thanks for checking in!

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image
      Author

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Hi there,

      I'm glad you found it fascinating. Interesting idea you have there, I'll give it consideration. Thanks for checking in:)

    • stanwshura profile image

      stanwshura 5 years ago

      Interesting piece. If my affect sounds flat here, it is because the visual world and it's interpretation are a debilitating challenge for me (my bio explains a lot of this).

      But, as ambivalent as I am toward your muse, YOUR passion beams out like mine for McCoy Tyner, K.T. Tunstall and Pachelbel (which is equal and spine-tinglingly intense for *each*). I wouldn't have the analytical, aural, or reconstructive skills, however without years of acquiring a verbal vocabulary for it all.

      I kinda thought you were heading that way in this piece. Boy was I wrong. Initially disappointed, I'm intrigued that someone would call their visual memory/palet a "vocabulary". That has GOT to be one hell of a toolbox!!!!

      Still, unfortunately, as a result of abnormal brain anatomy and neurological sons of....!! it's one I'll never "get".

      And yet you made a cognitive function about which I have much as bitterness an absolutely fascinating read.

      For my first time ever on HP, I'm gonna make a blatant challenge/request: can you guide me to a beginner's beginners' place or source or site from which to SLOWLY, painlessly and CLEARLY. earn the spoken explanations and articulations for every visual art concept you can think of - color, hue, texture, "depth?", stroke, medium, proportion, et et et et cetera.

      Just an idea. BOY did your hub grab me. Thumbs are up. :)

    • galaxy1000 profile image

      galaxy1000 5 years ago from Spokane, WA

      I enjoyed the article.

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great hub! I love drawing too! Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration. Drawing is the foundation for all artistic expression - thanks so much for sharing your insight!

    • stanwshura profile image

      stanwshura 5 years ago

      Interesting piece. If my affect sounds flat here, it is because the visual world and it's interpretation are a debilitating challenge for me (my bio explains a lot of this).

      But, as ambivalent as I am toward your muse, YOUR passion beams out like mine for McCoy Tyner, K.T. Tunstall and Pachelbel (which is equal and spine-tinglingly intense for *each*). I wouldn't have the analytical, aural, or reconstructive skills, however without years of acquiring a verbal vocabulary for it all.

      I kinda thought you were heading that way in this piece. Boy was I wrong. Initially disappointed, I'm intrigued that someone would call their visual memory/palet a "vocabulary". That has GOT to be one hell of a toolbox!!!!

      Still, unfortunately, as a result of abnormal brain anatomy and neurological sons of....!! it's one I'll never "get".

      And yet you made a cognitive function about which I have much as bitterness an absolutely fascinating read.

      For my first time ever on HP, I'm gonna make a blatant challenge/request: can you guide me to a beginner's beginners' place or source or site from which to SLOWLY, painlessly and CLEARLY. earn the spoken explanations and articulations for every visual art concept you can think of - color, hue, texture, "depth?", stroke, medium, proportion, et et et et cetera.

      Just an idea. BOY did your hub grab me. Thumbs are up. :)

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