Last week I talked about why I stopped sketching and what motivated me to start again. This week I’ll expand on why sketching is great for your mental health, creativity, and design career and list some resources to help you fill up your sketchbook.
First of all, let’s get something straight—drawing takes courage. That’s why, as a perfectionist, I had a really hard picking up my sketchbook. It’s hard to draw when you know that the ideas won’t come out exactly as you envision them and that once they’re on paper and your “mistakes” are in plain view. However, I think that the courage it takes to sketch will be rewarded.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
- You have the freedom to do whatever you want and express yourself (you don’t have to show anyone and it doesn’t have to be good).
- Your sketchbook will always be there for you to come back to, even if you don’t pick it up for a few months.
- You can create a time capsule by recording a certain stage in your life (this can happen unintentionally).
- You can be encouraged by seeing the progress you have made as you look back through old sketchbooks.
- A sketchbook doesn’t have to include only sketches. It can be a visual diary, i.e. journaling, collage, planning—whatever you are inspired to do.
- The point of a sketchbook is to take risks and make mistakes! If you can do this in your sketchbook, you can do it in other areas of your life as well. Mess it up—don’t let it become precious or it won’t be used.
Creativity and Skill-Based Benefits
- You can practice and improve your skills and try new techniques without messing up anything really important.
- It’s always faster to record ideas on paper than digitally. You can use mind maps and thumbnails for the most effective creative problem-solving.
- Sketching allows you to finish a drawing more quickly than a whole project and to feel a sense of accomplishment after only a few minutes. This means that any time you need a break from what you’re working on, you can whip out your sketchbook and finish something quickly—or don’t finish it if you don’t want to!
- You can be more creative and develop your personal style by exploring what interests you. By getting away from social media and drawing from your own head, you’re automatically generating original ideas and learning more about yourself.
- If you don’t know what to draw, just draw what you see from where you’re sitting. My favourite sketches to look back on are the life studies that remind me of where I was at a certain time.
- Think of your sketchbook as a tool, not a work of art. A journey, not a destination. The process is the point and the reward.
- Be inspired by new tools, such as Prismacolor pencil crayons or gouache paints. There is nothing worse than spending $120 on pencil crayons and letting them just sit in your drawer (guilty!).
- Don’t be afraid of colour! Carry coloured sketching materials with you.
- Use writing such as dates and notes on colour formulas to make your sketchbook even more useful.
- Your sketchbook is not very helpful if you never have it with you. Keep a smaller, portable sketchbook and one or two drawing utensils with you wherever you go so you can sketch ideas whenever inspiration hits. If you don’t have your sketchbook with you, draw on a napkin or a receipt and paste it in later.
- Your sketches don’t have to be representational! Doodling random patterns and making swatches with new tools can be extremely relaxing and also look good.
- Use drawing prompts if you’re lost for ideas or use a free art reference website to draw from an image (just don’t get stuck browsing for half an hour instead of sketching!).
- Drawing in public can be used as a conversation starter. On the flip side, you don’t have to show people your sketchbook at all if you don’t want to, or you can hold it and show them only certain pages instead of letting them flip through it on their own. It’s your space and you can decide what to share and what to keep private.
- Decorate the outside of your sketchbook if that’s your thing—you can even name each one based on what you use it for or what was happening in your life when it was being filled.
- Be inspired by the art of others and do studies of the masters, but don’t forget to turn off the computer and draw from your own ideas as well.
- Search “sketchbook tour” on YouTube to see sketchbooks from other artists
- Website created for high school art students in the UK, has plenty of very intelligent articles about art and sketching as well as visual inspiration from amateur artists. http://www.studentartguide.com/
- A website that has hundreds of free stock photos for use by artists and illustrators. https://www.morguefile.com/
This post was inspired in part by the following articles:
Thanks for reading! Do you have a sketchbook of your own? How often do you use it and what do you use it for?