Sj Nielsen Mini Sketching Challenge | July 2019

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After you all completely blew me away in January, I realized I couldn’t wait an entire year to create another sketching challenge for us! Since a full month is a rather large commitment (don’t worry, that’s coming back in January), I decided this time around I would create a mini 10 day challenge. Below you will find the list of prompts, as well as a description of each prompt. I provide the descriptions not to restrain you, but to give you a starting point. Feel free to interpret these however you like! Before we get into the prompts, take a look at a few of the sketches created for the first sketching challenge this past January.

Now, time for new prompts!

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[Day 1] Blind Contour: Get yourself set in front of something you’d like to sketch. Something small, something large, one item, or an entire room. Once you’re ready, put your pen somewhere on your page (in relation to where you want to start sketching), and begin. But here’s the trick - for the entire sketch you aren’t going to lift your pen OR look at your paper; only look at the object in front of you. The point of this exercise isn’t to end up with a beautiful work of art. In fact, it will probably look like chicken scratch, but this is a great exercise to train your brain how to see. This is also a great exercise if you want to associate yourself with a new scene and should be continue to be practiced no matter how skilled you are!

{Day 2] Thumbnail Sketch: If you’ve never done thumbnail sketches before, it might be helpful to google that phrase (surprise, you aren’t sketching your thumb nails - haha!) Thumbnail sketches are small sketches used often for mapping out composition. They are helpful in discovering new ideas before you start a final piece. They don’t often include a lot of detail, and are more working towards capturing the essence of whatever you are creating. I want you to create 5 thumbnail sketches (preferably from the same location to challenge you creatively). At a coffee shop? Maybe one thumbnail is a sketch of the entire shop, maybe another is from a unique angle, another up close of your coffee, another of the shoes of the barista. Maybe you’re outside and one thumbnail of a tree uses color to understand shadow, and another is drawn with a graphite pencil.

[Day 3] Storefront: Pick a place, any place, and sketch the front!

[Day 4] Lights: I might be a little biased with this one, because we have some iconic blue lamps that are ‘well known’ in our city. That being said, interpret this prompt however you like. Are you drawing your living room lamp, a light bulb, or maybe even the light from the sunlight? Surprise me! ;)

[Day 5] Perspective: Pick a scene that challenges you with perspective — it might be helpful to look up ‘one point perspective’ and ‘two point perspective’ to get an idea of how to give a sense of space. It will also be helpful to practice on a more simple scene of just a building or two if perspective is something new for you. Otherwise if you are out in nature, create a sense of atmospheric perspective by using more intense color in the objects that are closest to you, and more muted colors in objects that are far away.

[Day 6] Flowers: I mean.. this one doesn’t need an explanation.. :)

[Day 7] Shadows: While this doesn’t need much of an explanation either, keep in mind that using cool colors to create shadows (instead of black) will keep your painting more full of life!

[Day 8] Trees: Big trees, small trees, one tree, two trees?

[Day 9] 45 Minutes: That’s right. Sketch anything you want, but set a timer for 45 minutes. For some this will feel like too little time, others it will feel like too much. If it feels like too little, it’s a good opportunity to carefully pick which items in your sketch will have the most emphasis and detail. Feels like too much time? Well now is your chance to figure out how to add more detail to your sketches. Maybe you start by mapping out shapes instead of diving right in to sketch with more accuracy.

[Day 10] Your Choice: As always, I like to end with a freebie. My favorite part of this prompt is seeing all the variety on our last day of sketching together!

I hope you join in on this mini sketching challenge! If you share it on Instagram, be sure to hashtag your sketches with #sjnielsensketchingchallenge — it’s a great way to discover others work, and this is where I go to select feature sketches for @sketchingwithsj!

Happy sketching!