The Sketchbook Habit: Make it Yours

A page from the sketchbook is a start for a lerger painting...

A page from the sketchbook can be a start for a larger painting...

Why is  a sketchbook such a big deal?
 A sketchbook is a portable resume’ of who and what you are about as an artist or creative type. I have been asked by Art gallery owner’s  and publishers to see my sketchbook. Why do you think they would be interested in some scribbles and quick little drawings? Think about it. Paintings are the current event… a sketchbook shows a little more about me as a person and my mindset about my work.
It shows a glimpse of the future paintings and ideas that  are in the incubation period, and  a sketch could explode into a full fledge piece of artwork at any moment.
It outlines tidbits of information in your own “shorthand” style. I may not have the time to write down every word at  a demonstration or lecture… but I can do a quick-sketch  and scribble important points I may want to remember.
A sketchbook is a Record and a History of Images I have sketches of buildings that are falling down or completely gone. I may have taken a photo.. but could not find it if I had to, since I have way too many photos.
It often has phone numbers, names, and addresses in it. Since I keep it in my purse, it is a catch all for little bits of information I need later.
6. It is Transformative… I can see the things that I need to work on in my drawings and sketches. I can look at pages from older sketchbooks and compare them with newer sketches… it tells me if I need to study and work harder on a certain subject or principle. As I learn more I can understand why that particular sketch just wasn’t working. I may not have  had enough knowledge at the time to know how to improve it or grow. Not a condemnation… more of an A-HA  or discovery moment.
7. In my art class, I often need to do a quick demo to explain or make a point to students. I can quickly show them a sketch and a few notes I made to help them understand and compare what they are working on to how I “did” it. So it is a beneficial teaching tool
8. As I have mentioned in other ways…it is just flat HANDY to have.
9. It is inspiring. The words, the poems, the pictures and paper clipped and pasted into it… all inspire me at some time or another.
10. IT IS PRICELESS … to me anyway…need I say anything more?
Buy a small book, keep it handy, and start a sketchbook habit today..

Below is a   “thinking about it” list for you to consider..

 A finished drawing from an earlier sketch.

 1. Keep a sketchbook HANDY. You will not start this habit if your sketchbook is too big or put away on the bookshelf… place it in your purse, or on your nightstand by the bed. Just make sure it is where you are.
2. While you are talking on the phone… doodle in it , or write down words or anything. Just start getting rid of those pristine white pages. Until you get some marks of some sort in it… you will just think about starting. I
tell my students: START WITH A MARK…not a masterpiece. Sketchbooks are private. No one is going to judge your ability . You only share the pages with others if you want to. I have 2 or three sketchbooks or journals in different places. That way one is always handy. I never label them. {as in “Studies of Flowers”} that is a sketchbook habit killer. It immediately turns a random skill building exercise into a task.
3. Sketch only what you like in it at first. Think back to what you drew on your papers when you were a kid. Learn to sketch what appeals to you. To find out flip through a magazine… if you pause at some photos and flip quickly by others, that will show you what is “catching” your subconscious “eye’. We are hardwired when it comes to subject matter likes and dislikes, and it is very disheartening to have to draw subjects that just aren’t interesting to us. *Read the article on the website about Sharing the Creative Vision.
4. Sketch only the essence of the subject at first… you aren’t trying for a completed drawing. It is a sketch. There is a difference in drawing versus sketching. Think about the minimum amount of information you need to make a recognizable shape or outline . That is a sketch. To understand this … lay your hand on the page and draw around it like you did in elementary school. This is the essential shape of your hand… how much you “dress it up” or enhance it is up to you . Coloring books are good examples
of essential outline sketches.
Focus on one part and practice sketching it.… if you like to draw faces… find faces in your photos or on
T.V.[ wherever you can find them]… but just practice on one part at a time…. Sketch lots of eyes… or maybe practice the mouth… This gets you familiar with that piece of the puzzle before you try the whole “portrait”.
Think …simple lines… not I have to draw this eye to look real. Try to develop speed as you sketch the part you picked out to sketch… over and over again. Repetition is the best way to remember.
5. Don’t erase! Just redraw and restate when lines go wrong…. Erasers are confidence killers. They scream MISTAKE ! BAD ! DO IT OVER! Just draw over it with a darker line or make a note on the page of what you need to think about reading or studying to improve it.
6. Go back and look at all your sketches occasionally… pat yourself on the back for the interesting ones and try to remember what you were thinking about at the time you sketched that subject. Were you relaxed and just sitting on the sofa? Or were you waiting in your car to pick up someone… I promise that doctor’s offices are not near as boring if your sketching.
7. Start sketching Now and Not later … you know, after or when you go to town and buy the perfect sketchbook… Find an old book and draw in it… just do it. Then make it a habit by sketching everyday for at least 16 days. They say that is how long it takes to develop a NEW HABIT!

 Enjoy and Relax You will be surprised at your quick artistic progress.

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