January 28, 2012

The Art of the Quick Sketch

15 minute quick sketch

photo of quick sketch subject

good friends and fellow painters, hard at work

Recently, my dear painting friends Janice Robertson, Liz Wiltzen, Sarah Kidner and Jean Pedersen let me talk them into a visit to my studio in Sorrento BC.  The purpose: to eat, chat about and figure out the big questions surrounding art (and life) and to paint ourselves into a corner.  Literally.  We painted the model for four days in a row, everything from a lithe ballerina, to a very handsome young aussie fellow (Jean just wanted to hear him talk) and ended our last session with a white bearded older gentleman.

Painting the model from life is most challenging.  We did a lot of portraits, but started out with the infamous "quick sketch".  These were done in paint primarily.  Two, five, ten, twenty minutes tops - and generally wiped off immediately after being finished.  I have put a quick sketch above that I took a photo of before wiping off.  The purpose of short lived quick sketch is to serve as invaluable practice.  The name of the game is to sharpen the eye.  Proportions, tonal values, color relationships. You have heard me talk about these before, and may be rolling your eyes right about now.

I included the photo just to serve as an example, so that you can see that only the necessary information is recorded. There is simply no time for the extraneous.  This is not a finished painting, it is a PRACTICE PAINTING.

We think it logical that musicians practice scales and arpeggios many times, not for the purpose of performance, but to make them better when they do perform.  Likewise dancers spend many hours strengthening and conditioning so that they are able to "deliver" when it comes to the actual performance.  Yet we artists.......

So, this was practice time.  A very profitable and fun week indeed.  I only have a few "keepers" from the session, but I increased a skill set.  That was the point. I think I speak for the whole group when I say it was challenging, frustrating,  completely engaging - and it was fun.

I have decided to offer a painting from the model "quick sketch" workshop at the end of February.  If you are interested, please drop me a line - we will paint from the model for three to four days, and I guarantee that you will find it hard work.  You'll also have a blast.  I know we did.  I will post the particulars on the sidebar of this blog and also on my website:  gayeadams.com.

Keep those brushes flying!



  1. this is wonderful! i love the small space filled with people sharing a common interest and goal. it feels like the perfect recipe. i am trying trying trying to give myself lots of time for practice and play throughout the winter without the agenda of completed pieces. this made easier by trying new materials, and not becoming attached to the works in 'process'! i look so forward to your posts, they are great encouragement for me to follow a windy uncharted path. the joy is in the journey. be well! thank you.

  2. Looks like you gals had a really worthwhile and fun time, Gaye! Very interesting post, thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow. Wish I could have been there. I would really benefit from those quickie painting/sketches. I'm taking a figure drawing course this semester. Very challenging for me.

  4. It was a blast Gaye- thanks again for making it happen
    Love, Jan