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How to make sketching a habit
I have been drawing for a long as I can remember. When I was seven I was always busy drawing Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Gadget from Rescue Rangers. At 12 I started painting. However, as I grew older I found I wasn’t in the habit of regular sketching anymore, and it showed. Somehow, the craziness of life happened and then I lost focus. I oozed art, I was still painting regularly, but not sketching.
Regular sketching sharpens the eye, trains the muscles in your hands. Connects the hand, eye, and brain to flow seamlessly. It creates the artists nature into your subconscious. It gives you subject matter for future work and a foundation for shapes and shadows. Here are some ways to help make sketching a daily habit.
The importance of keeping a sketchbook
Keeping a sketchbook reminds you that you are an artist. Keeping it where you can see it sends a message to the brain that your art is important and should have time devoted to it.
You should keep a sketchbook for regular practice of your skill. It keeps your creativity sharp and helps you see your progress. Your sketch book is also a treasure trove of inspiration. It’s a place to loosely jot down things that inspire you, be it shapes, color, or even thoughts. Your sketchbook is an intimate part of your relationship between you and your pencil. Allow your relationship to grow by spending regular time creating in it.
The famed dance, Twyla Tharp quotes golfer Ben Hogan in her book The Creative Habit. He states, “Everyday you don’t practice you’re one day further from being good.” A sketchbook reminds you to practice.
Find your tools
Find the right art supplies and you’ll find your groove! Nobody said sketching to be done with a standard No2 pencil. I think that’s my least used pencil. I found my groove with dark, soft, highly smudgable leads and charcoals and water soluble pencils. You should love the look of the lines going done on your paper. Part of my style is loose and dark. To me, charcoals have an almost painterly affect. I also adore Stabilo all pencils. They are smooth and water soluble and I can make mini-paintings of my sketches in my sketchbooks. Once I found these two tools I couldn’t wait to play with them.
You can make your own sketchbooks.
Now, let’s look at sketchbooks. Does a huge white, blank, page intimidate you? It did me. I kept buying sketchbooks and barely using them. Then, I discovered art journaling. This is such a great practice. You can read more about it here. Then, I started making my own journals to sketch in. Something about the act of creating the journal inspired me all the more to use it. Some pages had a wash of color, some had a collage, and some where left blank. I became less afraid of blank, white pages as I began to sketch in my journals.
With handmade journals you also get to decorate the covers. They become little pieces of artwork that you get to bring with you wherever you go. You can read about how to make your own Journal here. You can also read about making DIY journals with materials you have around the house here.
If you would rather buy a sketchbook I recommend Stillman & Birn Zeta series. I adore this beauty. The pages are white, smooth and can handle water-soluble products and watercolors themselves. This is a high quality sketchbook. Once mine arrived at my doorstep I couldn’t sketching in it.
Bring your tools with you
You can’t sketch if you don’t have your tools! Get into the habit of bringing your sketchbook or journal and pencils with you wherever go. Heck, go buy a new bag that fits your supplies and makes you excited. You’re an artist! You can express yourself however you want. Maybe you want to even make your bag! Whatever it takes, just bring your tools and keep an open eye.
Have Courage to Draw
It takes courage to be an artist. To dare explore the imagination that’s in your heart. To create and express yourself takes a certain boldness. Find your inner boldness, make your mind up that you are going to be an artist, you are going to get into the habit of sketching and stick to it. It’ll take courage to sketch in public where people may spy on what you’re drawing. It’ll take courage to put yourself out there. But you know what? It’s worth it, and eventually the fear and anxiety will begin to subside and you’ll have new feelings of accomplishment and confidence to replace them.
Go out on sketch hunts
Make it a priority to go out looking for things to sketch. Maybe it’s trees, or dogs, or old smoke stacks (I love those), maybe it’s people in the park. Whatever it is go hunt for ideas, shapes, shadows and have fun. When you want something bad enough you go and search it out. These should be adventures. You may have lived in the same town you’re entire life, it once you go around with the intent of sketching you’ll soon discover things you never noticed before. You’re town will become new and alive.
Make your art a routine
Create a routine that involves sketching. You brush your teeth everyday, why? Because you want healthy teeth and don’t want bad breath. It’s good for your health. Well, sketching is good for your art health. Make it a priority. Creating a routine marks the activity as important. It also becomes a habit, and once that happens you stop thinking about it so much, taking the pressure off the activity. Making something a routine means you do it even if you’re not in the mood, sick, tired, or busy. It’s something that must be done. It means getting out of bed in those winter days and prioritizing your art. Successful people have routines and stick to them.
Have Fun with sketching
Make sketching fun. It can also be a form of self-care just the same as soaking in a hot bath or cuddling with a good book. Grab a coffee, make a playlist, and have fun. It’s time alone where you can really devote time to you and your art, you get to discover things you love. It’s both peaceful and exhilarating. Make regular dates with you and your sketchbook. Plan it out, dress up, anything that makes it a fun adventure. If you’re bored it will show in your art.
Sketching is the backbone of art
Sketching gives you a foundational understanding of shapes, lines, and contrast. You don’t have to make beautiful, complete drawings. Sketching is about quickly drawing what you see or fro your imagination. It’s about getting ideas and visions onto paper. Sketching is practice and and also an effective tool for laying down ideas you may want to turn into finished works. You can take a sketch and from the same page turn it into a great piece. Never limit yourself or your art. Allow your sketching to open up new avenues and sharpen your skill. And always have fun. Let the imagination and eye guide you.