When you're short on sketch time, make a grid!

11x17", across a two page spread in a Stillman & Birn 8.5x11" hardbound sketchbook
Watercolor, Pitt Brush Pens, Fountain Pens, or whatever else I had next to me at the time!
You can click this image to enlarge it. 

It's that time of year when after a winter of being indoors and mostly sketching, I can get out and return to my life as a plein air painter! I have not stopped sketching by any means, but my more finished work is now being done in paint or on separate sheets of rag paper. (You can always check in to see those on my other blog.) 

I feel it's very important to continue sketching, and not give that up when the going gets tough. One of the things I do when time gets tight is I make a grid and sketch a series over time. I have several grids going at any given time on different themes. I try to select themes that hone specific skills. This one was started a few weeks ago as a means of practicing elipses and symmetry. Whenever I had a morning without having to immediately dash off somewhere, I sketched my coffee mug. I sketched the last mug this morning. These were all done directly in ink, so warts and all, I had to live with whatever came out of the pens. 

I'm really enjoying this larger sketchbook, and it certainly presents great opportunities for gridded series! I have a few portrait grids going (32 portrait boxes across a  two page spread!) and some other subjects too. Way fun. Great practice. Quick to do. No excuses!


  1. Most excellent idea! I've used a grid of small boxes on a page when I'm traveling and don't have the time to do much more than a quick doodle. I'll have to give this a go. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Laure, yes, grids are great for those little thumbnail sketches of fleeting moments too!

  3. Fabulous grid, Jamie!

  4. Super idea! i like this blog Other