Top 5 Reasons to do a Preliminary Sketch

Hi friends! I have been thinking a lot about creativity, artist block, perfectionism, procrastination and time management lately and I have a little trick that can overcome a lot of those stumbling blocks we face. It’s simply doing a quick practise sketch.


I did this 10 minute color study before Fridays live show to make sure my colors were going to work for the mixes I wanted and also to make sure the paper I was using was OK. I was using some Winsor & Newton Artists Watercolor paper that is nearly 20 years old and it was just fine. This sketch allowed me to quickly get down some colors so that I would be prepared for the main painting.

Top 5 Reasons YOU Should do a Preliminary Sketch Too!

  1. You can test out your colors and materials to make sure they are in good working order and work well together.
  2. You can try out a composition (how your objects in the painting are arranged.)
  3. It allows you to paint quickly and freely without worrying about messing up the “good” project. It’s a great “warm up” to a day of painting!
  4. You can test out techniques you are unfamiliar with before attempting it on your final painting.
  5. If you are contemplating adding mixed media to your final painting you have a practise piece to try it on first.


The odd thing is that I usually like the practice sketch better than the final painting and I think it is because of the free feeling I had when creating it. Knowing you are only going to spend 10 or 15 minutes on something let’s you create with abandon! I hope you give it a try and til next time happy crafting!

20 Responses

  1. Thank you for this, I agree that sometimes you prefer the sketch to the finished painting, and I often wondered why, both are lovely 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lindsay, your YouTube videos and blog are a blessing to me. I’m 63 yrs. old and started watercolor painting last Aug.! You are my Sensei.

    Oh, about the preliminary sketch, a great lesson.

    Thank you, for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this loose sketch! I’m an impatient one and seem to paint start to finish then off to the next one. Thank you for all your lessons. They are a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the practise one better too. Not that the other is bad, I just love the freeness of the first.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I’m in an art museum I prefer the “sketches” because they look more alive …. you can sense every stroke the artist made, even the ORDER he made them in and the unfinished look triggers my imagination … kind of like a book is always better than the movie. The “real thing”, meaning the huge oil painting the preliminary sketch was made for seems far too rigid to me … perfect but sort of liveless.

    And of course because I’m a very impatient person I enjoy doing sketches more than the real thing … and I hate nothing more than the judgement: “Nice, but unfinished!”

    My problem is, when I make a preliminary sketch the “real thing” isn’t fun anymore because I feel like I’ve already put everything I needed to into the sketch!

    But I must say … I love the copper around the vase in your painting, the texture of the wood and the cup is simply marvellous! I doubt that could be done that well in a sketch.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the simplicity of the initial sketch!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Learning so much from you. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good advice, Lindsay! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the preliminary sketch almost as much as the finished piece, as I like both impressionism and realism. This is such a good tip for helping one to relax and enjoy the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You are right and a great inspiration to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this one. Its always hard for me to start on a blank canvas, or paper. I truly appreciate your veidos, an how honest you are.
    Being a Mother of 3, an all you do, I am in awe of your time you share with us.
    Thank you, an I am going to try out this method of color swash an sketches 🙂
    Jamie Hawk-Walker

    Liked by 1 person

  12. hello and thank you for bringing up things that you have sort of forgot and needed to be reminded of.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, I did it! I made an 8X6 perm. gel plate.I just poured the cold water in and then…I could not find a bottle of rubbing alcohol anywhere! Meanwhile my gelatin turned into beige blob.Hm-m-, I need alcohol and don’t I have vodka somewhere? Yes, it worked! Fumey but clearly solid. Thanks to you and Pink Poodle and thanks for the tip on how to reach out. I have won a Locally Grown (sold both) art contest twice and lots of awards at Navajo Cty fair. Thank you, again.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I agree with Vickie, above. The preliminary sketch is great too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This really hit hit home for me. Thank you, Lindsay!

    I often find that my prelim is better than the final. I’ve been wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Lindsay,

    Great blog post today, with useful tips thank you. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for sending me this email with the link to your blog post – Top 5 Reasons to do a Preliminary Sketch.

    I thought this blog post was very interesting and useful, so thank you very much.




    Liked by 1 person

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