Introduction to the Visual Arts

Sketching in the Garden (summer)

banner for page headers with the text "Summer '18 - Go Beach" students meandering through the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSULB


This week we’ll try some sketching. If you’re around the Long Beach State campus this summer, you can go to the EBM Japanese Garden any time it is open. If not, you can go to any garden or interesting place near you.

  • Make 6 sketches, 3 representational & 3 abstract
  • Make 6 photographs, 3 representational & 3 abstract

CSULB EBM Japanese Garden – Regular Hours Tuesday through Friday: 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Sunday: Noon to 4:00 pm Closed: Mondays and Saturdays


Draw with whatever ability you have. If you don’t have much ability, don’t stress about it. This Art Experience is graded on effort, not on skill.


Drawing is a lot about seeing. A lot about looking. If you spend 10% of your time with your eyes on what you’re drawing, and 90% of your time with your eyes on your paper, you are not looking enough! Try to slow down and look carefully at what you’d like to draw.


Never use them! Don’t let that judgmental eraser mess with your head! If you don’t like a line you just drew, let stay, live with it. Just draw another line. Maybe a bolder line. Or several sketched in lines. Keep it loose. Keep it free. Feel the flow.

Contour Drawing

A great thing to try is a contour or blind contour drawing. Let’s say I want to draw a few leaves on a branch. I can pick a start point, like the tip of one leaf. Then I put my pencil on my paper and my eye on the tip of the leaf. Try to move your eye along the edge of the leaf as you move your pencil along the paper. You are teaching yourself hand-eye coordination. When a kid dribbles a basketball on her driveway for 1,000 hours, she’s teaching herself hand-eye coordination. You don’t have to draw for 1,000 hours! But if you take your time, you will get better. Try not to look at your paper. Just let your eye move along the leaf as your hand moves across the paper. Of course, don’t erase! Just keep gently moving along.


For 3 sketches try to draw something that looks like something. Again, don’t stress about skill. But try to make leaves look like leaves, and so on.


A drawing can be “abstract” in that it is stylized or removed a little, or a lot, from the original. You might draw a pile of twigs or reflections on the water. The don’t have to be completely unrecognizable to be “abstract”. They can be “somewhat abstract”. Or you could be very abstract and use the source inspiration to create a sketch that most people wouldn’t know where it came from.


Along with your 3 representational & 3 abstract drawings, also use the garden to take 3 representational & 3 abstract photos.

Blog Post

Post your 6 sketches & 6 drawings and write a little about your experience.

Comments? Questions? What great art did you see, make, or experience today?

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