Sketching by the Sea – 7 tips for sketching with children

My grandson, Arrow, and I are on vacation over on Saturna Island this week. Yesterday was an overcast. No rain but the light was dull and lacked luster.  Photography and painting en plein air just didn’t seem to be the most appealing activities to undertake. So we did a midday hike at Narvaez Bay for lunch and then went to Winter Cove for some sketching by the sea.


Here are our tips for enjoying outdoor sketching:

1. Do physical exercise first – it is much easier to sit or stand for an hour to focus on sketching after a hike. The eyes seem to be able to see better when the body can comfortably be still.

2. Use good quality materials because they are easier and the results are more satisfying.

3. Find a place that offers some privacy where people are not able to walk up behind you. If they come up beside you or in front of you, they are more likely to ask to see your work than stand lurking in the background.

4. Situate yourself at the level or in the perspective that you want to capture your subject. In the photograph above we are almost at water level and in the same relationship to the scene as I would be to photograph.

5. Sit or stand  in such a position that you can see each other sketching without moving. This is extremely effective for easy conversation and learning by observation without interruption.

6. Keep the session short. When interest wanes, take a break. For example, wander around and maybe skip some rocks. Then come back to the sketching.

7. Relax and enjoy. 🙂 Don’t worry about the results or giving more than very basic instruction. Children  will observe and ask questions about what they need to know at that time.

Today, with a bit of luck, we shall have a chance to do some en plein air painting with oils on canvas.


SPROUT: What tip would you offer if introducing your favourite creative activity to children?


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12 thoughts on “Sketching by the Sea – 7 tips for sketching with children

  1. Good pointers Terrill and we are a month into summer now and so some new activities are welcomed suggestions for sharing with children.

  2. Terrill –

    I love, absolutely love this photograph of Arrow. It captures a very special essence. I enjoyed reading the tips you shared. It sounds like if you two had any more fun they’d have to issue you a ticket!

    SPROUT: What tip wold you offer if introducing your favorite creative activity to children?

    Pretend that your pencil is a rainbow and “draw” your story with colorful words.

    • Great tip Laurie! I just read it to Arrow and you should have seen his face light up 🙂 Tonight we are both a bit played out – me more than him. We set up our easels in the shade of some large trees on the top of a cliff about noon to paint. We thought we would be about an hour to an hour and a half. Four hours later we had all our gear and wet paintings packed back into the vehicle. It wasn’t that it was hard or anything went wrong – we just lost track of time. A good day painting!

  3. Thats what they did in soccer, make them run around the field so that then their mind could focus on learning and listening

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