An illustration inspired by Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Tips for developing an observational sketchbook practice

Drawing from life is a way to document the world around you. Whether you are an artist, a writer, or simply a curious observer, drawing can be a method of tuning into your perceptions and generating elements for future creative work.

Stories are waiting for you everywhere. Whether it’s in the park, at the laundromat, or on the kitchen counter, it’s often a matter of simply paying attention.

Grab some drawing materials, set out to an interesting place — or begin where you are — and follow these tips to see what you can find.

A sketch of a fisherman along a dock

Tools of the Trade

The librarians always had half an eye on what you were up to

You had to time your visit right — they closed midday for lunch and reopened in the evening.

Corey Corcoran

Artist & illustrator. See more at

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