Last Week: Saying more with less

May 9, 2016 | 9 Comments

A few weeks ago, a local sketcher commented on how much my style has changed over the years: “you are drawing less” she said.

Yes, that is very true, the more I sketch the more I want to say more with less. (I hope you could follow that sentence!) Just following my daily latte sketches over the last few months is an example of that.

This concept also ties in with two themes from last week:

  1. The above image is a page of thumbnails planning a number of additional instructional images to my book. Doing design thumbnails is bread and butter to me as an architect. These diagrams only need to help me work out what I am going to do and no more. The linework is designed to resolve an issue in a minimum amount of time so I can start the next one while the thoughts are flowing.
  2. This week I came to realisation that at the moment, I am more a writer than an artist. 90% of my work time is spent at the computer typing and although I love writing, it is draining. I was also reminded this week how energising sketching is for me. But as you can’t write without doing a lot of thinking, I am encouraged by the fact that if I am not actually producing art, thinking about it is the next best thing!  This thinking will only benefit me when I do get back to sketching more regularly. That being said, I want to try to say more with less in regards to words not just lines and shapes.

So after making that statement I am stopping now!

So there you have it – the leanest of all my lean weeks in recent months.

Do you think I will be able to improve my game this coming week?



  • Liz, you know you’re going to return to your long posts – which I enjoy by the way. Thanks for the idea/thought of “saying more with less” except that you say more with more. And that’s not a bad thing. Be you, you do that best. Have a great /productive day.

    • Liz Steel says:

      thanks Cheryl – I love writing longer posts too. But I do need to write some shorter ones to mix it up!

  • Lydia Akers says:

    Thanks Liz for your insightful definition of a thumbnail!! And expressing the notion of saying more with less!!

    I love your blog, long or short, your classes, too. I read what I can.

    Lydia Akers

    California, USA

  • Corinne McNamara says:

    Hi Liz, Yes, your writing will improve just as your drawing skills have evolved and improved. Awareness is important and what you’ve applied to your art, can also be applied to writing. I think the question is more about what you want to say than fitting a particular length. I like your conversational style and hope you find the balance of writing and sketching that you need and want.

    I teach a scientific writing course to grad students, mainly trying to get them to reduce wordiness and write in a more direct, clear, precise, and concise manner. I was delighted to see that what you said in Foundations about drawing was pretty much what I tell students about writing: 1) Use thumbnails (outline); 2) Is the focus clear? 3) Lay out complex scenes with pencil (draft & revise); 4) Use ink to clarify main lines (edit for clarity); 5) Check for missing/needed elements (Use an editor and/or read your work aloud to catch problems). To get my students’ attention and make the point that writing is a learnable skill, I’ve been using examples of my own sketches to provide visual illustrations of some of the main concepts –it actually helps and they see the benefits of practice!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Corinne – great points. I also like the comparison between sketching and writing, that you have to enjoy the process. I love your points, but they do highlight why writing is draining – so much goes into it! Because I have put all the hours in previously, sketching often just flows out of me. there is not the rigor that you always need to maintain with writing.
      thanks again for your comments.

    • Corinne McNamara says:

      You are right about writing (it can be very draining) — a lot different than sketching, which is more likely to leave me feeling refreshed! I keep wondering when I can retire and focus on sketching rather than sneaking it into my classes.

  • This is so true for me too. As a younger sketcher i’d be voracious with detail, often at the expense of true expression. It had its own charm, but I started to challenge myself to say what I wanted to with as little as possible. It really helped me work out what’s valuable as an artist!

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