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Sketchbooking: Five Years and Continuing

This is a post that has been long due. For more than a year, I have wanted to share more about my sketchbook work but I felt like I was still finding my feet with this practice and not really ready to share it with the world.

Not that much has changed in the context of how sketchbooking makes me feel – so uncomfortable and a bit like I am forcing it. But the more I work on it, the more comfortable I get with it. And I thought it was time to give everyone a look into my very imperfect sketchbook.

A spread from my 2019 sketchbook inspired by a flower show I attended

I started keeping a sketchbook way back in 2017 but I was hardly regular with it. Around 2019 I started to take it more seriously and became more or less quite regular with it even though half the time I had no idea of what to put down in it. I looked at the work of other artists and mine, by comparison, felt so juvenile. Comparison is the thief of joy and it certainly stole mine. There were days when I hated it, but something (I can’t say what) made me persist.

A spread from 2020 that I particularly love

2021 is now the third year in a row when I have managed to continue working in my sketchbook with some regularity. And it is only in the last few months that I have felt like I am finally finding my style. It’s now, after almost 30 months of regular practice, that I have started to look forward to working in my sketchbook. I can’t say if it is quite as uncomfortable for everyone, but do not for a second believe it if anyone gives you the impression that any consistent practice is easy work.

For me, keeping a sketchbook helped me test out new ideas, dabble with different mediums and sometimes just play around with colours. It also helped me to identify my niche/interest regarding style and subject.

If you have been wanting to start a sketchbook, all I can say from experience is that do it for yourself and not for some audience; put aside your ideas of how it should look and just draw!

Some of the things that helped me stay regular:

  • Blocking a specific time every week for working in my sketchbook.

  • Not sharing my sketchbook on social media. That took the pressure off and I could draw without worrying about it turning out well.

  • Just scribbling my thoughts in it if drawing felt too hard at that moment. Sometimes I just ended up writing "Sketchbooking is hard" over and over again. And that's okay.

  • Looking for inspiration on Pinterest or Google to jumpstart my creativity. Lately, I have been drawing inspiration from the sketchbooks of some famous artists (da Vinci, Ruskin).

If you’d like to see a flip through of my messy, imperfect sketchbooks, here’s a video for just that!

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