:: blog ::

Speed sketch practice with the Nature Journaling folks

Or, a high-energy marathon of humbling sketching sprints

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the nature journaling community hosted ad-hoc community sketching parties online. I attended the Rapid Sketching party hosted by Gargi and Akshay because I love rapid sketching and wanted to hang out with the crew.

I. Had. No. Idea. No idea that I’m so unpracticed with reallyfastsketching (30 seconds a heat!) No idea that sketching pictures of animals would bring me to my nature journaling knees. No idea that working so fast would make my brain buzz and my hands sweat!

The format is: an image of an animal appears on the screen. Participants SKETCHSKETCHSKETCH as long as it’s there (which is never long enough!) and then a new image appears. We did 47 images (there may have been more. I lost count.)

Most were mammals which I kinda hate. Not only that, but mammals in wild and unexpected positions. The shapes! The details! AND KITTENS. Gahhhhh!!!!

I may hate sketching mammals because I’m not very skilled yet. Or I may not be very skilled yet because I don’t like to do it. Either way, it’s comforting to think I could get better with practice.

In the spirit of showing the process (and to step into the #daretosuck mindset) I’m sharing the unvarnished results.


I learned that speedy sketching is about really seeing, and getting familiar with the form, proportion and musculature of an animal. Lots of attentive looking is the key to improvement!

I was surprised at how quickly it started to feel more natural. With the timed images, a rhythm starts and I started to acclimate to the tempo. This made it easier to focus on the major parts and proportions and to let go of the details.

Next time I’d like to organize the layouts better so that the pages are less chaotic. And I’ll spend a little time in visual practice by really looking at animals and “air sketching” what I see. A great way to be “learning” from all those cat videos. 😉

Thanks, Gargi and Akshay! Can’t wait to do this again.