Sketching: a history of art

I’ve decided to try and learn to sketch. And (yes, boring I know), I’m going to tell you why and to describe my thoughts as I go. Yes, yes, this is another or Ross’s grand blogging ideas that will fail spectacularly after about 3 posts, but I’ll try.  But before all of that: some history.

Art School

School was a funny time for me. I suppose I was pretty academic, and good at some stuff: maths and science in particular. But I was an introvert and didn’t really like the classroom as a place to learn.

I don’t have many strong memories of school actually, but there were some particularly bad English and music classes that stand out.

And art. I hated art. I remember crying over art homework.

But actually, I liked drawing. In later school years, in design and technology, we got to to technical drawing. Drawing boards, set squares, rulers, pens, and H pencils (not B pencils, they left too much of a mark). Orthographic projections, oblique projections, perspective, hatching, scales, and mm-perfect accuracy. I loved it!

And I remember my final GCSE art teacher. He embraced this and got me doing final projects with lots of detail, and using the tools I had bought for design and tech. He was brilliant, and helped me to a C grade and some drawing I was proud of.

But art wasn’t my thing.

An aside: guitars

I wasn’t musical at school either. Or at home.

We had a piano at home and my parents helped me have cornet lessons, but it didn’t last long.

At university I got into listening to music, but how it was made was a pretty mysterious thing.

Soon after graduation, I had this odd moment where I decided that, if I put my mind to it and worked hard, I could do anything. So I bought a guitar and a songbook.

My patient, patient housemate I was sharing with put up with my initial playing. And I’m now a pretty competent rhythm guitarist.

Ross and Isaac playing guitar
Pretty competent!

I’ve not had another “I can do anything moment”…well…perhaps…not until recently.


I do all this web development, but I’m not a designer. I’ve tried to do design, and I’m just not a designer. I know what looks good and what doesn’t, and I understand user interaction and colour theory and grid systems and typography, but I just can’t do visual design. So it’s maybe a bit odd that when I read an article called “Why I Sketch Every Day” I was inspired to try to take up sketching.  But actually, quotes from that article like

Learning to sketch in a meaningful way hasn’t come easily to me, but it’s been worth the effort many times over.”


“Sketching has made visible my thought process and has opened it up to feedback instantaneously (at least from myself.) It has made me a much more effective communicator.”

should get a lot of us thinking about learning to sketch. I bought a copy of Drawing Ideas which has also been inspiring in its introductory sections. I’m pretty excited, actually, about learning to draw!

Drawing Ideas book cover
Drawing Ideas

Throwing myself at it

So I’ve thrown myself at this task. Yes, I don’t have too much time (though having an office is actually making me have more “free” time), but I’m really going to try to do drawing a couple of times a week at least. I’ve been kitting myself up with some nice stationary as inspiration (new toys!!!) and I’ll be trying to document my learning process and thoughts as I go.

Look out for Tweets, photos of kit and sketches, and more posts as we go.

Oh, and some of my sketching might have another purpose too.  Watch out for that!