Slowing down the pace of life with artstagram sketches

I have a confession. I used to take hundreds of photos.

I'd see a beautiful scene and want to capture it immediately - I'd pull out my camera and snap away, but more often than not the photos would be nothing like the scene I had wanted to capture. Yes, proportions were (mostly) spot on, and yes the actions were accurate...but the mood? the atmosphere? the colours? No, these were nearly always disappointing

That old man cycling along the street? the teenager out with the dog? people punting on the river? Everyday scenes would be flat and uninspiring.


Nowadays I much prefer to take a little time over a sketch rather than snap a quick photo, it helps me to appreciate and really look at my world. 


Ink sketch, my local garden centre
Ink sketch, Cambridge UK





  •  Can't draw straight lines? Who cares - a wobble here and there adds charm.



Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England

  • Struggle with perspective? Don't worry about theory - grab a pencil, hold it at arms length between you and your subject, close one eye and measure angles and distances between key points. And then draw what you see. It's only a piece of paper after all!

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England



  • Find it difficult to see lights and darks? Squint at your subject to take out some of the confusing colours.

Ink Sketch, Coronation Park
Ormskirk, England
Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England























Most of all - get out there and practice!


Ink Sketch, Liverpool Philharmonic Rehearsals
Liverpool, England



I still take far too many photos, and do use many of them when I'm back in the studio, but my favourite method of painting these days is on the spot with my mini sketching kit.


  • I always carry a watersoluble pen, a water brush, a small tin full of 2.5 x 3.5 inch pre-cut watercolour paper, and a cardboard coaster to use as a mini drawing board.

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England



No longer do I sit bored in the doctors waiting room or whilst waiting to perform taxi duties for my teenagers


Ink Sketch, Cross Hall Brow, Ormskirk
Ink Sketch, Doctor's waiting room














I have to say, my studio art has also improved no end because of this.


And why the title "artstagram"? In my last post my daughter laughing said that instead of "instagramming" my life I "art" it!



So do you take lots of photos and never look at them again? Try slowing down the pace of life and sketch instead. Let me know how you get on...


I owe the wonderfully talented Polly Birchall many many thanks for introducing me to this pen (Speedball Elegant Writer). Polly's blog is one of my favourites, I always look forward to reading her posts - do have a nosey round her blog, it's well worth a follow.