No Time to Sketch? So Draw in the Cracks

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My friend Máire visited yesterday. A friend of hers has her hands full with one thing and another, but still reads a lot. “How do you find time to read so much?” Máire asked her. “I read in the cracks,” answered her friend.

I thought that was a great way to describe my approach to sketching. When I think I have no time to sketch, I draw in the cracks.

Last week I made a sketch which perfectly illustrates this. I drew it while I was waiting to pick up a couple of kids from the bus stop, which is the crack between sitting at my desk, trying to be productive, and starting to cook the dinner.

This drawing illustrates something else about sketching, which is not altogether unrelated to the idea of grabbing any few minutes to draw; namely, not taking your sketch too seriously.

If you look closely, you’ll see a funny shape in the branches of the tree. Look closer. It’s the outline of the beginning of another drawing: the day before I drew this, I had been drawing a scene which had a dustbin in the foreground. My first attempt at the bin wasn’t working for me, to say the least, so I turned the page and began a new sketch. Again I had a shaky start, but in the end I enjoyed myself and produced a passable sketch. The dustbin wasn’t too bad, at any rate.

Fast forward to the next day. I was in the car waiting for my daughter and our neighbours and I figured I’d do a bit of sketching while I waited.
Now, I HATE waste and am really quite a tightwad (or dustypockets, as my friend Clare so memorably once said). There was a perfectly good page in my sketchbook, with nothing but a badly-drawn bin on it. So I simply turned the book upside down, the better to get a larger expanse of white, and started drawing the Garda (police) station in my local village, Kilcolgan. I had a lovely time, and I quite like the result.

There are two lessons to be learned here, of which I am an enthusiastic and committed student.

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