Drawing for Pleasure vs. Drawing for Work - Creative Catalyst Productions

Drawing for Pleasure vs. Drawing for Work

April 14, 2017 3 min read 3 Comments

Posted on: Apr 23, 2012 by: Carolee Clark

Sign of Spring by Carolee Clark

Sign of Spring by Carolee Clark

If you have been following my blog, you know that I sometimes post the drawing along with the painting. Libby Fife emailed me and said, “I always like it when you include your value sketches along with the finished painting but want to know what the light, medium and dark areas correspond to? Is it a color placed on the value scale or a color placed on the color spectrum?”

Obviously she is much smarter than I am and thinks a lot about planning her work. I thought I’d give you a little insight into my drawing and sketching.

For me, being able to draw well is very important. Although I’m not interested in painting realistically, I know that if I can render something realistically first, then I can distort or abstract in a controlled manner rather than by accident. I draw for several reasons; pure pleasure, to keep my drawing skills sharp, to pass the time or to plan a painting.

Drawing for Pure Pleasure & Honing Skills

I go to the Oregon State University Open Studio where a group of artists and students get together and hire a model for the evening. Time passes quickly during these sessions as I am quickly engrossed in creating lines, shapes and shadows that excite me. Each week we alternate between quick poses and long poses. I have no expectation of creating a “product” here.  Below is an example of a "long pose" night.  This drawing would have taken about an hour and a half.

Drawing  by Carolee ClarkClark2

Some of the drawings do become paintings.  However, many sketches don’t make it past the recycling container in the garage, like the one below:

Drawing  by Carolee ClarkClark 3

Drawing While Waiting

There is the sketching I do while I am waiting in an airport, a restaurant, in the car, at a theatrical performance, or anytime I have a few extra minutes.   The drawing below was done while I waited for a play to start in Portland.  I try and be inconspicuous so that my subjects are unaware and at ease.


Friends by Carolee Clark


Below was one made while visiting with friends.

Cheese & Grapes  by Carolee Clark



Drawing For Work:  To Plan a Painting

Finally, there are my “thumbnails” which are my plans for my paintings.  The size is usually about 4” x 4” and take only a couple of minutes.

These quick sketches help me resolve the composition.  I decide how to place the subject matter on the page, how to relate it to other things within the painting and to eliminate unnecessary details.  It allows me to determine whether my initial idea excites me enough to do a painting.  At times I do three or four sketches until I am satisfied with my idea for the painting.

Back to Libby’s question, the light, medium and dark areas don’t relate to a color at all. I generally decide on my color choices after the sketch is completed.

Sometimes I am thinking about how light or dark an area should be as I do like a lot of value change in my final paintings.  Sometimes I take this into consideration with my "thumbnail sketches," but not always.

If I have the composition right, the rest is much easier.

Vokswagon, Crusing by Carolee Clark


About the sketch: There is very little shading on this sketch other than to figure out where one shape ends and another one begins.  The dark car in the back was more about figuring out perspective (at first making the car too small so needing to "fix" the drawing so just making it bigger (and thus darker).


Staying Connected by Carolee Clark


I did two sketches for this painting.  Although the first one was good, I wanted to see how I felt about putting in the entire figure (notice the feet pointing a little toward each other) and I exaggerated the hair moving with the wind which I loved.

Alley Parking by Carolee Clark


About the sketch: I was in a back alley in Corvallis while I did this drawing.  The notes in my sketchbook say, “I sat down in the alley by a garbage can.  It smelled.  Then I started to smell fresh bacon frying in a nearby restaurant … then garbage again … then muffins … then garbage.”  I also noted the exact location and date.




About the sketch: And just so that you don't think all of my sketches are decent, I'm showing you some bad ones!  They don't have to be works of art ... they are just little plans for paintings.

Noon Hour Options by Carolee Clark


Another bad drawing.  I was just trying to figure out how to fit the people in with their bikes and their relative sizes.  (ie. how big do I make the bikes versus the people and where do I place everything).


To learn more about Carolee Clark visit herwebsite andblog.

3 Responses

Ginny Sullivan
Ginny Sullivan

April 19, 2017

Thanks so much for the insights. Your work is wonderful and I look forward to seeing more. I too love life drwg classes with less successful results than yours but hope springs eternal.


April 19, 2017

Your drawings are delightful. I used to paint a lot and won many awards, but have not able to be inspired for many years now. Your drawings give me such incentive with the inspirational colors. They are impressionistic, readable and also designed so appealingly. Do you use color pencil or watercolor?

Carol Collier
Carol Collier

April 18, 2017

I love this article! I’ve been a long time fan of your drawings and am glad to read your thoughts on your process! thank you!

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