A sketchbook is an artist’s best friend!

Okay…well, sometimes. Other times, it is a pain in the neck, another one of those things you feel you should be doing but do not have the time. You may be wondering why you should care. A sketchbook is a visual record of your ideas, your thoughts, your inspirations and your creative process.

It is a collection of your creative endeavors, however formal or casual they might be. A sketchbook is also a good place to go to for inspiration if you are stuck for ideas, not to mention an essential part of practicing and keeping your skills fresh! So how can you make your time with the sketchbook easier and more enjoyable?

Lori McNee’s sketchbooks

Here are some tips:

1.    Indulge in something that excites you!

Your sketchbook does not need to be a plain-Jane coil bound collection of white paper. Get a sketchbook you can get excited about! Find something with an interesting or inspiring cover. Or, you could use your own creativity to jazz up the cover of a book you already have. Chances are you will find more motivation and pleasure sketching in something is an object of art all on its own.

2.    Get portable!

Half the challenge of using a sketchbook is finding the time for it. Get yourself a teeny tiny sketch book that you can use when you have a few minutes of down time, no matter where you are. I have one that is about two or three inches square that comes with me in my purse. That way, I can sketch whenever I have a few minutes at the doctor’s office, stuck in traffic or on the bus!

3.    Use strategic thinking!

What are your time wasters? When could you be sketching but are doing something else? Determine what these times and places are, and put a sketchbook nearby. For me, it is the TV. I know I can waste the evening watching mindless programs so I make sure I keep my sketchbook close. That way it is a constant reminder. That way, I cannot use the ‘I just did not think of it’ excuse, and I can sketch while I listen to the TV.

4.    Be open-minded!

Do not limit yourself to the type of quality of work in your sketchbook. So what if one day you do a fully rendered drawing and the next you doodle a few marks? So what if one day you collage and the next you paint? Your sketchbook is not a place for ‘art’ (though ‘art’ may be found there); it is a place for your ideas. Have an ‘anything goes’ attitude about your sketchbook and do not get hung up about making something good.
Then again, you could also…

5.    Give yourself limits!

This can be a fun way to get over a creative lull or overcome feeling overwhelmed in the studio. Limit yourself to a certain media or certain color, then let yourself go crazy! Sometimes having that little bit of structure can free us up to get creative in other ways.

I once kept a sketchbook in which I only used black, gray, and orange media. Each page different, but it was united by the colors. Some of my most interesting drawings come from that book!
And if all else fails…

6.    CHEAT!

Ok, not really, but here is the thing: Maybe you do not have time to work in your sketchbook, but Iwill bet you have time to doodle while you are on the phone, to draw when you are in a meeting, to sketch when you are at class… Those things count! They are a record of your creative thought processes, which is exactly what a sketchbook is meant to be. Keep those bits and pieces and glue them into your sketch book!

These are just a few ways to keep your sketchbook fresh and stress-free. What other strategies do you use?

Miranda Aschenbrenner is a young fine artist who specializes in graphite drawings. You can visit her blog to learn more about her art tips and drawing techniques.  http://www.learntoart.com/


Here are a few other informative articles you might like:

How to Interpret the Landscape in Paint
When Are You Ready to Call Yourself a Professional Artist?
Bringing the Still Life to Life: A Painting Demo by Master, Jeff Legg

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