The art of keeping a sketchbook

A sketchbook is a visual journal, a means of practice and a way to relax. Keeping a daily sketchbook was one of my New Year’s resolutions. I soon realised that for me this was, like all my resolutions, best seen as an intention rather than a pass/fail stringent duty. Sometimes the impetus to draw isn’t there, and that’s OK. Creativity, like interests, comes in waves, but my sketchbook is always to hand for when I feel ready for it. And I’m back to daily drawing again and loving it!

Sketchbooks can be private, like diaries – a personal place to practice art or express oneself. But for many people there is great pleasure in sharing them – in blogs, on Instagram or in books. The Sketchbook Project, which I find fascinating, collects sketchbooks from all over the world. You can view the Brooklyn-based organisation’s collection online, here, or take part in the project!

After a drawing hiatus in January, I restarted on my sketchbook by drawing my cat. Cats sleep with relish, and to draw them is to focus on that bliss. Cats are also great subjects because they stay still for a while, but then move often enough to keep you on your toes. But the beauty about sketching is that you can choose anything, shedding interest on a subject however banal it might usually seem – from a pepper pot to a pot plant. Drawing is a mindful exercise.

When the inclination to draw isn’t there, I write, When the inclination to write isn’t there, I go and do something else. Often, when I’ve created a lot of output what I need to do is absorb some culture – read, watch films, listen to podcasts…

Creativity is a resource that can be exhausted, and sometimes you just have to wait for it to refill.

I will keep on filling my sketchbook when the impulse arises, as it did when I saw my cat curled up asleep the other day. And I’m enjoying being back on track with daily drawing while that inspiration is here.

Most of all, for me sketchbooks are not about making ‘good’ art. They are all about the process and are to be enjoyed, not assessed.

To see my brand new Etsy art shop, click here!


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