We are one week into the New Year and It’s been a week since I started my daily sketchbook project.
A week in which I have sketched something every day.
To sketch something—anything—every single day of this year. And to make this small but catalystic act of creation and creativity as routine as brushing my teeth and writing my morning pages.
So far, success!
(She said, knowing full well she was only one week in… But hey! Baby steps, right?)
I’ve tried keeping regular sketchbooks and art journals before and failed miserably.
Why did I fail in the past?
Lack of time (that convenient and over-arching excuse that works for just about anything), lack of self confidence, setting my standards too high, and not being serious about making it work.
So, you might ask, what am I doing differently this time to ensure that I’ll stick with my new sketchbook habit?
- I made it a goal and New Year’s resolution to do one sketch or page a day in my sketchbook.
A quantifiable but modest goal.
- I am (trying) to remain gentle and nonjudgemental with myself and my drawing abilities while still attempting to improve in skill and creativity. (Just as I want my children to be gentle with themselves and their drawing abilities.)
The point is to sketch every day, not to turn out masterpieces. The daily sketching will surely improve my drawing abilities, but at the same time, I’m thinking of it like my morning pages—rough and tumble drafts and a way to prime my writing/art—but not necessarily anything I need to share with the world.*
*Except that I’m sharing these photos here. And on Instagram. Silly me. The hazards of being a blogger with a perhaps compulsive need to share.
- I’m keeping this flexible.
Besides sketches and observational drawings, I may include elements of zentangle, art journaling, doodling, and/or drawing exercises such as continuous line drawing.
- Here’s the biggie. I’m making the daily sketchbook a part of my morning routineto ensure that I do it.
I draw something first thing in the morning, after writing my morning pages and while drinking my pu-erh tea (I’m experimenting with being a tea drinker instead of a coffee drinker. The jury is still out on whether or not that one will stick.) If I wait until later in the day, I know from experience that I’ll get busy and I’ll find excuses not to do it, or at least not consistently. So I’ve incorporated the daily sketchbook into my morning routine and I’m excited and impressed with how well it fits in.
- I limit the time I spend.
I don’t spend a lot of time on my daily sketchbook page. Maybe 15 to 20 minutes tops. I tell myself I only need to sketch for five minutes to get myself started but once I’m in the process of drawing, I usually stick with it for longer.
I feel GREAT about this new sketchbook project of mine. (I can’t exactly call it a habit yet, since I’ve only been doing it for a week, but that’s the ultimate goal.)
The rest of the day feels so good knowing that I’ve done my sketch. It feels like such a gift to myself and my creativity. I’m hoping that this small act will help me to align better with my ideal self.
Another big reason I’m doing this (besides improving drawing skills, priming my visual creativity, and becoming who I want to be) is that this is something I want to model for my daughters. I want to model creativity, I want to share my (new) daily sketching “habit” with them, and I want them to see me doing something that I value.
Even if the final drawing doesn't "make sense" to anyone else, it speaks to me of my journey. When I look at this drawing, I see the frosty chisel of Alpine peaks, the top of Brunelleschi's dome, the inside of a Swiss lodge, Montepulciano at night, the churning of waves across the Atlantic, and the peaceful calm of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens.
The memories are crisp and specific, triggered by these simple 10-15 minute drawings.
This sketchbook assignment is great because there is very little pressure involved. You don't have to be a "good" drawer, and you only need to spend 10-15 minutes on it per day. It's a fun ongoing project to keep on the side while you work on other projects and go about your daily life.
All you need to participate in this sketchbook assignment is paper and a pencil. However, a sketchbook is more ideal because then the drawing will be safe from creasing or from getting lost, whereas a loose sheet of paper might easily get lost or damaged.