Say it with a sketch

Three pencil sketches

Staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak can be an isolating time, with many worrying about how they will stay in touch with family and friends without seeing them.

Video calling has become extremely popular during this uncertain period and we’re very lucky that we have the technology to facilitate this so we can stay connected. Many of us have also got a lot more time on our hands now to learn new skills or develop existing ones. 

For me, the lockdown has really encouraged me to pick up my pencil and pastels again. Not necessarily because I have more time but because I have switched my mindset. I’m focussing on getting myself and my family through these trying times, so filling evenings with drawing and painting helps me focus and concentrate on only what is in front of me. I forget about the uncertainty we face and lose myself in a picture. It’s like a form of mediation.

I’ve also discovered that sharing images of these sketches with family, friends and work colleagues has brought smiles to their faces. As many of us couldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day properly I had the idea of sending a vase of flowers to my Mum and sister as we were unable to be together physically.

Their reaction was very heart-warming, so I felt spurred on to continue this by sending a sketch of a birthday cake to a work colleague for her birthday. Under normal circumstances, we would always have a birthday cake in the studio to celebrate a team member’s birthday, so she was very touched to still receive one – albeit inedible!

As Easter is usually a time for family get together and again, we are unlikely to be able to celebrate it properly, I’m looking forward to creating some Easter inspired sketches to send out to friends and family. Encouraging people to keep smiling and spreading positivity is so important at the moment.

I have always been a creative person, so sketching comes naturally to me, however, you don’t have to be an artistic individual to create one of these sketches. Your subject doesn’t have to look realistic – it can be abstract and encapsulate your own unique style.

Oil pastels are perfect for this type of drawing because you can experiment with layering up different colours and smudging techniques without getting too messy.

Here are my tips for creating a successful pastel drawing your friends and family will love:


1. Choose your subject.

This could be an image found on the internet or something you already have – a vase of flowers, a plant or even a bottle of wine!

2. Create a rough sketch.

In pencil, use simple shapes to create the outline of the drawing. Try not to put too much detail in at this stage – you can add this in later. For now, you just need a basic outline.

3. Create a base with block colour.

Create the base of your sketch by filling in the basic shapes with block colour. Don’t worry about being too exact – you can layer on top to create detail later on.

4. Layer it up

This is why pastels are so great for this type of drawing – you can layer on top with lighter and darker colours. Make sure you use both light and dark to create highlights, depth and richness.

5. Blend

Blend the colours together using your fingers – make sure you use a different finger for each colour!

6. It’s all in the detail…

Again, using lighter and darker colours, add some detail into the drawing to create definition. This will give the sketch visual clarity and bring everything together.

7. Send the photo to make someone smile.

Remove any excess pastel dust by holding the drawing upright and tapping the paper – don’t brush it off! Make sure you sign and date it and then pick the perfect spot to photograph the sketch ready for sending. It’s good to find an area with lots of natural light and you might even want some props in the photo – I like to photograph mine next to a vase of flowers, sometimes with a pencil in shot.

Your family members will appreciate the sketch because it has been created by you – it will bring joy to their day, make them smile and you might even enjoy yourself along the way!

Audley teams are launching new activities and interactive events, using digital technologies, to ensure our owners stay connected with their friends, family and each other. Read more about our #togetherathome initiatives.


Find more health and wellbeing advice on Audley Stories.