[A partial repost and expansion from my 2014 blog]
One of the most difficult disciplines to maintain as an artist once you leave school or your regular routine is keeping a regular sketchbook and drawing daily. Sketching for the visual artist is akin to the musician practicing exercises and scales, as well as improvisational time. There is nothing more essential to keeping your mind open, your skills honed, and your creativity flowing than the unrestricted and safe space of a personal sketchbook.
Here are four recommendations to help you get started and stay drawing:
1. The Buddy System: Get a sketchbook buddy. You've heard of gym buddies, coffee clutches and diet partners, well why not a friend who will be supportive, shares your love of drawing and painting, and help keep you focused on what is really important to you...Your Art!?
Here is my sketchbook buddy! We meet for 30 minutes to an hour once a week to draw:
2. Try the Sketchbook Project:
Check out mine:
3. Variations on a Theme: Sometimes it is helpful to have a theme to your daily sketches. One theme that worked well for my Sketchbook Buddy was to draw a pear everyday. She drew the same pear for a few days at different angles, played with perspective and proportion. Later she drew cut pears, different kinds of pears, and experimented with various media and techniques. Eventually the pear drawings got pretty crazy with multiple pears, and even pears that were anthropomorphic! Each drawing was no larger than 3"x5" and took 15-30 minutes. She kept them all in the same sketchbook. It went a long way to helping her experiment and keep her daily sketchbook habit going strong!
When you choose to draw a single subject, make it an everyday object, something you can easily find and use from around the house. Instead of that mindless 30 minute tv show, draw! Or draw with it on the the background. Have friends or family, especially little ones? Invite them to join you. Whatever works best for you!
4. Read and Draw: Another sketchbook "prompt" is transforming a printed book in a sketchbook. For the example shown here, I selected a book of poems by the ancient Greek poet, Sappho. I selected this book for two reasons: the first being that I am a Sappho "Fan Girl" and the second because her poems only survive in fragments today. Coupled with this the verso page is in the original Greek and the facing page an English translation. Therefore, there is a lot of white space (not a necessary requirement, as you can incorporate or ignore text, it's up to you). Because it is poetry there are plenty of descriptive adjectives and nouns to act as prompts as what to draw and how to alter the page. I am also fond of incorporation mixed media, papers, natural materials as well into my altered sketchbooks. If you search "artist's books" or "altered books" on line you will get hundreds of ideas. I will keep you posted as mine develops!
5. Walking Mediation and Your 10,000 Steps: Medical research has shown that human beings can maintain good physical fitness by walking 10,000 steps a day. Enjoying the sights and sounds around you and regular breathing can help induce a meditative mind which is not only relaxing, but another large component to overall physical well being. Why not combine all three? Take your sketchbook with you on your daily walk or bike ride. Once you find a subject that inspires you, draw it for 15 minutes. Keep your sketchbook small (see my post on travel and field sketching from June 2017).