Tuesday Tips & Tricks
Thanks to an invitation from Don Yang, Alex Zonis, Wes Douglas, and I recently spoke at the American Academy of Art in Chicago as part of their Visiting Artist Series. My section of the presentation dealt with the value and habit of keeping a sketchbook. I want to share my thoughts with you, too.
Every Visual Creative Should Keep a Sketchbook!
Five Reasons to Keep a Sketchbook
Drawing is a skill and must be developed. Great athletes, musicians, actors, and artists, we all need to practice to improve and hone our performance.
Keep your sketchbook with you always. Do it! Ideas can be fleeting. How many times have you thought, “Wow, what a great idea. That will come in handy later,” and when later came the great idea was gone? Jot it down or scribble a quick sketch!
|Above the Clouds|
Try out and practice with new media or tools, compositions, play with new styles– again, ANYTHING!
|Disappearing Hancock Building|
• Overall progress – the strides you make in your artistic development over a
period of time, whether it’s months or years.
• Idea development – the evolution of an idea from the first scribble to finished
concept or product.
|Family Farmed Button|
This reason may be my own little reason but I share it with you. Waiting used to be a time of aggravation and annoyance for me. Now, I think, “Oh good I can sketch.” I also have more sketches done in hospital emergency rooms than I care to think about but they kept me calm and sane. And sometimes when I’m “in the zone” it’s like meditation.
|At Evanston Hospital|
Five Tips for Developing the Sketchbook Habit
I use several sketchbooks at one time, all different sizes. Some are themed – like Urban Sketchers or travel. Some are for convenience or size, a small one in the glove compartment of my car, a tiny one that fits in an evening bag, one near the TV and the best of all my daily workhorse that is also part journal, part agenda. That’s the one that is in my bag, on my desk and beside my bed.
If a fancy new sketchbook can be “too precious” the first page in any sketchbook can be intimidating.
Some ideas that I’ve had success with in getting over the first page roadblock:
• Skip the first couple of pages, go back to them later if at all
• Paint the palette, brush, pencil, the tools that you’re using now
• Set up an index that you can fill in as you go along
• Write a favorite or motivating quote
Write in it – grocery lists, phone numbers, quotes, notes
Glue stuff in it – business cards, ephemera, travel info, maps, napkin drawings, random scribbled ideas and thoughts etc.
There is a remarkable community of artists all over the world who connect by sharing their work online. They make hospitable and willing companions to sketch with wherever you may find yourself. They’re only FaceBook post away. Sharing your sketches whether it’s Twitter, FB, Pinterest, or wherever, is also a great motivator and you’ll find inspiration in the work of others.
The sketchbook habit develops our drawing skills and cultivates that spontaneous work on location that is urban sketching. By keeping a sketchbook and acquiring the sketching habit, urban sketching isn’t something we do but it becomes part of who we are – Urban Sketchers.