If you are an artists who sketches, or who wants to sketch, you have probably been in the situation where you had the time and inclination to sketch, but nothing particularly exciting to use as a reference. What should you do in this situation? I suggest you sketch anyway. Sketch a rock or a tree or your hand...after all you always have that with you.
And there are things to be learned from uninspiring references. First is the challenge to make the sketch interesting despite the subject matter. This can be accomplished with an interesting sketching style, or by using the subject matter as a jumping off point for your imagination. Who ever said sketching has to be grounded in reality?
sketch with 4B graphite pencil
And whether you are sketching something you love, or something which bores you to tears, the act of sketching will still sharpen your skills. It helps you learn to see, and to recreate a 3D object in a 2D space. It also allows you the wonderful freedom to make mistakes. Sketching is not about creating a masterpiece. It is more like playing.
Speaking of being desperate, what if you are faced with the most inspirational subject matter ever and no art supplies? What then? I say find a way to draw anyway. Draw on a napkin or the back of an envelope or on the lined paper you brought to your meeting.
No pen or pencil...use a stick in the dirt or a stone on the sidewalk or dip your knife in ketchup and draw on your plate. Worst case, use your finger to draw in the air. Be creative, after all artists are creative by nature.
Drawing often fixes the subject matter more clearly in our minds than just looking does. When you get back to the studio, recreate what you drew. You might be surprised how much you remember.
If you want to improve your drawing skills, draw every day whether you are inspired or not. In fact, I believe showing up when you are uninspired often teaches you more than working on the days when you are really jazzed. If nothing else, you prove to yourself that you are committed to the act of creating art. And there is a lot to be said for that!
The sketches above were done while I waited in the car during my children's activities. "Stuck" for sketching material, I used a bottle of anti-bacterial hand wash from my purse and my comfortable brown loafer. I placed my references on the dashboard and balanced my sketchbook on my knee. The sketches were done with a 4B graphite pencil. I really enjoyed the quality of line and loose feel I achieved with this pencil.