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My Daily Sketchbook Project

by Jean Van't Hul
January 7, 2015

My Daily Sketchbook Project and Why I'm Doing it

We are one week into the New Year and It’s been a week since I started my daily sketchbook project.

A week in which I have sketched something every day.

My goal?

To sketch something—anything—every single day of this year. And to make this small but catalystic act of creation and creativity as routine as brushing my teeth and writing my morning pages.

So far, success!

(She said, knowing full well she was only one week in… But hey! Baby steps, right?)

I’ve tried keeping regular sketchbooks and art journals before and fizzled out failed miserably.

Why did I fail in the past?

Lack of time (that convenient and over-arching excuse that works for just about anything), lack of self confidence, setting my standards too high, and not being serious about making it work.

So, you might ask, what am I doing differently this time to ensure that I’ll stick with my new sketchbook habit?

  • I made it a goal and New Year’s resolution to do one sketch or page a day in my sketchbook.

A quantifiable but modest goal.

My Daily Sketchbook Project - I suppose its good to have room for improvement

  • I am (trying) to remain gentle and nonjudgemental with myself and my drawing abilities while still attempting to improve in skill and creativity. (Just as I want my children to be gentle with themselves and their drawing abilities.)

The point is to sketch every day, not to turn out masterpieces. The daily sketching will surely improve my drawing abilities, but at the same time, I’m thinking of it like my morning pages—rough and tumble drafts and a way to prime my writing/art—but not necessarily anything I need to share with the world.*

*Except that I’m sharing these photos here. And on Instagram. Silly me. The hazards of being a blogger with a perhaps compulsive need to share.

Keeping a Daily Sketchbook

  • I’m keeping this flexible.

Besides sketches and observational drawings, I may include elements of zentangle, art journaling, doodling, and/or drawing exercises such as continuous line drawing.

My Daily Sketchbook Project - I am grateful for my mornings

  • Here’s the biggie. I’m making the daily sketchbook a part of my morning routine to ensure that I do it.

I draw something first thing in the morning, after writing my morning pages and while drinking my pu-erh tea (I’m experimenting with being a tea drinker instead of a coffee drinker. The jury is still out on whether or not that one will stick.) If I wait until later in the day, I know from experience that I’ll get busy and I’ll find excuses not to do it, or at least not consistently. So I’ve incorporated the daily sketchbook into my morning routine and I’m excited and impressed with how well it fits in.

My Daily Sketchbook Project - January 5 Sketch of Living Room

  • I limit the time I spend.

I don’t spend a lot of time on my daily sketchbook page. Maybe 15 to 20 minutes tops. I tell myself I only need to sketch for five minutes to get myself started but once I’m in the process of drawing, I usually stick with it for longer.

Sketching by candlelight…

Jean Van’t Hul(@jeanvanthul)님이 게시한 사진님,

I feel GREAT about this new sketchbook project of mine. (I can’t exactly call it a habit yet, since I’ve only been doing it for a week, but that’s the ultimate goal.)

The rest of the day feels so good knowing that I’ve done my sketch. It feels like such a gift to myself and my creativity. I’m hoping that this small act will help me to align better with my ideal self.

Sketchbooks with the Kids 2

Another big reason I’m doing this (besides improving drawing skills, priming my visual creativity, and becoming who I want to be) is that this is something I want to model for my daughters. I want to model creativity, I want to share my (new) daily sketching “habit” with them, and I want them to see me doing something that I value.

Sketchbooks with the Kids

My morning routine happens before the kids wake up (ideally/usually) but what I’ve been doing is leaving out my sketchbook with the page open to that day’s sketch—sometimes unfinished. And also leaving out their sketchbooks and drawing materials—as an invitation for some morning drawing and doodling time. I’ll sit down with them for a while and finish my sketch or add a background or border or something while they do some drawing, too.

It’s working great so far!

A few days into my new routine, I signed up to take an online sketchbook class from Craftsy to help me improve my sketches and to give me some ideas and guidance as well as accountability.

(They were asking me which class I’d like to try for my next sponsored post. Perfect timing!)

Taking an online sketchbook class

The class is called Sketchbooks :: Drawing the Everyday with Paul Heaston and is one of my favorite Craftsy teachers and classes so far. He shares so much great info about sketching, sketchbooks, and drawing materials!

My Daily Sketchbook Project - The first week in sketches I was resistant to taking a sketchbook class at first because I thought, “There’s not that much to it. Just draw. In a sketchbook. Period.”

And yes, that’s basically what we need to do. But! It could be a whole lot more.

Paul shows us lots of his (amazing) sketches and sketchbooks. He shares different formats and mediums, subject matter, viewpoints, and ways of recording surroundings. Plus lots of great insight into the art of seeing.

“All you have to do is let your eye communicate directly with your hand. And your sketchbook is your place to record that.” – P.H.

He shares tips on putting objects into perspective, ideas for making images pop, and ways to make items appear closer to the viewer.

Some of this I already knew at some level. Some of it I didn’t. And all of it was and is welcome.

“Sketchbooks are a way to document the everyday experiences.” – P.H.

I was committed to doing the daily sketchbook before starting the class.

Now I’m excited.

Excited about what is possible for myself and my sketchbook project. Excited about recording the world around me in different ways. Excited about learning to see better. And definitely excited about learning to draw better.

“Experiment and explore options as you find your style and your voice.” – P.H.

Would you like to join me in keeping a daily sketchbook this year?

I really think that even a five minute daily sketch or doodle could work wonders for our creativity!

Online Sketchbook Class with Craftsy

Sign up for Sketchbooks :: Drawing the Everyday

Note :: As with all Craftsy classes, you can sign up now and then take the class at your own convenience. That means you can dive in immediately if you want and rush through it or you can wait a few weeks or months until you’re ready to take it and it’s waiting there for you. You can take it at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.

Why to Keep a Daily Sketchbook Whether you take the class or just explore a daily sketchbook habit on your own, welcome.

I love the idea of us artful parents (as well as teachers, grandparents, aunts and uncles) joined together in sketching, doodling, and journaling our days, lives, and ideas and giving this gift to ourselves and our creativity while setting a good example for the children around us.

I’ll keep you posted about my new daily sketchbook project as time goes on…

Happy sketching!

By the way, here are a few of their other drawing classes that I’d really like to try ::

This post was sponsored by Craftsy; all opinions expressed are my own. 

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