D.Williamson, Out & About, 11" x 8.5", ballpoint pen drawing, 2016
D.Williamson, Out & About, 11″ x 8.5″, ballpoint pen drawing, 2016

Drawing is like playing a musical instrument.  You can’t get good at it if you don’t practice.  However, it’s sometimes difficult to get a regular drawing habit started because of time constraints or even procrastination. So here is a sketch book prompt that can help with on-the-spot drawing practice: the add-on drawing.  Here are the steps:

  1. Wherever you are just pick out one small thing that interests you and draw it. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Use any medium you want.
  2. If you have time draw something else. It can be something located near the first object or something completely random.
  3. Keep adding things until you run out of time.
  4. The next time you have an opportunity, go back to that same page and add something else.
  5. Keep adding until you run out of space.
  6. Unify the work by extending lines so that objects touch or overlap. Add shading, pattern, texture and/or color. There’s plenty of room for creativity in the process.

My add-on drawing Out and About was started on an errand running day when I was the one doing most of the waiting in the car.  The first thing I drew was the logo in the center of my steering wheel. As the day wore on, I added more car parts, other people’s hubcaps, store signs, parts and cords from electrical and mechanical gadgets, profiles of the people around me, and so on.  Sometimes when I couldn’t see anything I wanted to draw I just worked on the shading.  Once I worked on it while waiting for a train to pass.  See the rail road crossing sign and part of a box car?

The time it takes to finish one of these varies depending on how big it is, how complex and how often you work on it. I once saw one that an artist had done over a long period of time on a paper that covered his taboret (small art table). It started out as doodling while he talked on the phone. One day he noticed that it looked pretty good and started seriously working on it. He turned coffee spills into animals and added in some extra designs to fill the space.  There were a few images I thought he should have inked over but … oh well, then he took a picture of it and published it in a book on creativity. I decided Out and About was finished after a couple of weeks. It still had problems I couldn’t fix, but that is a risk you take when working with a ball point pen.