Drawing Basics: Finding Time to Draw

A friend recently asked how to get into a routine of drawing, and I shared with her my methods of finding the time in a busy schedule to keep progressing in my pursuit of better draftsmanship. I draw from a live model one night a week; when my schedule and the weather allow I draw the cityscape outside during lunch; and I sneak drawing into my nights and weekends whenever it doesn't negatively impact my family.

This weekend, I found a great tool to help me draw just five more minutes here and there each day: my stepson's portable easel with chalkboard. He loves to draw and paint, so the chalkboard is often around. Now I use it as much as he does. All I have time for–before my "models" move or before my stepson becomes too intrigued to let me draw solo–is about a two-minute gesture drawing or pencil sketch.

The chalk drawing gets erased rather quickly by little hands, so I can't feel precious about my lines. Just get it down and see how it works.

Where there's a will, there's a way. Anyone else have any tips on how to get a little more drawing done each day?

easel for pencil sketch drawing

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Bob Bahr

About Bob Bahr

Hi. I'm the managing editor of American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing, and Workshop magazines. Drawing magazine is primarily my responsibility so I spend a lot of time looking at drawings, talking with draftsmen, and drawing ... but I love to paint, too.

9 thoughts on “Drawing Basics: Finding Time to Draw

  1. Hi Bob, sounds like you’re doing better than most of us at fitting drawing into a daily schedule.

    Because pencil, paper and eraser are so portable, it’s easy to take along and even sketch while my husband reads in the evenings. Perhaps having a drawing kit that stays in the car would be helpful.

    Love the idea of drawing with your step-son. I bet he loves the interaction.

  2. Robin, I would love to draw on the train and admire the drawings i see that people have done on the subway. I usually have to stand on the 1 train so no go.

    Hedieh, I am lucky if I get 30 minutes done each day. Mondays I get a solid 3 hours in because of a figure-drawing group. On the weekends I usually can carve out an hour somewhere. The rest consists of quick hits at night or at lunch. Gosh, I sound like a drawing junkie! I guess I am.

    I’m going to post a question today and I hope anyone who is reading this will comment here or there. I’m interested in what you look for in a sketchbook — size, paper type, hardcover or not, spiral bound or not, etc. Thoughts on this?

  3. I recently purchased Quite a nice lap desk at borders; It allows me to real off a quick sketch or two while sitting up watching TV with my wife, it has room for a 9×12 sized pad and a page from a Magazine or some other such as a quick subject.

    Or sometimes I just do a quick likeness of a given talking head, I am a bit of a new junkie, so plenty of those.

  4. I don’t have a problem with finding time to draw, but I do have trouble allowing myself time to explore new mediums or tackle new subject matter. It’s easy to reach for the familiar or to draw what I’m comfortable drawing. So I try and allow myself some time every week to try new things and to keep experimenting and growing.

  5. Carolyn, I’ll switch with you!

    Because I read and write about so many new techniques and materials each week, I am constantly trying this and that. Sort of the jack of all trades, master of none conundrum.

    Not that I’m complaining—this is a great gig.

    How do you find the various things interact with each other? I recently interviewed a draftsman/sculptor who said that the two media informed each other in a very direct and meaningful way. I find that watercolor and oil confuse me when I go back and forth. Same with acrylic and oil.


  6. I like the idea of the chalkboard…..keeps the idea of doing something just for the joy of it, and keeps from getting too invested in the results. If you bribe with chocolate chip cookies, you might squeeze a whole five minutes in at the board meeting!