pen sword

I recently bought myself a book on how to sketch and it’s changed my life. Oh wait a minute, I hate it when people say that about something that hasn’t actually changed their life. Let me start again. I recently bought myself a book on how to sketch and it’s made me quite happy.

That’s right, the book is called How to Draw Anything by Mark Linley. And so far it does exactly what it says on the cover. Let me illustrate (ahem). Here is a typical example of the sketching I used to do:

very rough sketch in my old style

Bloomin’ awful isn’t it?

Back in the late nineties I attended a one year foundation course in art and design followed by a three year degree in graphic design. However, throughout that time I never thought to pick up a book about how to draw. At Shelley Park in Bournemouth (where I completed my foundation in art and design), we did life drawing classes and I always kept a sketch book in my pocket and sketched unsuspecting people in cafés and other public places (I’m a bit surprised I was never arrested).

But my sketches were always, well, sketchy. Hence the mess you see above. I mean look at it. You can vaguely make out some mountains and some sky. Woop-de-do.

Now take a look at this.

pen sketch of old harry rocks

It depicts the view overlooking Old Harry Rocks. It’s mine so it’s still pretty awful but at least you can see what it is. Just reading the first few pages of a book has done that. And you know what? It’s really not difficult to do, it’s easy. Anyone can do it. And I thoroughly recommend it. You don’t have to rush out and get that particular book. Get a book that makes sense to you. One that allows you to progress quickly. The speed with which I’m progressing is one of the reasons I’m enjoying the process so much. In fact each sketch is very quick to do, first using a 2B pencil before going over it with a fine ink pen.

And when you’ve got two small children running around a sandy play park just behind you, well, you need to be quick.