I almost wasn’t going to post anything this week. I’ve been dragging my heels, writing wise, over the past few days because of a whole bunch of life stuff that took up a lot of time. This means I have had little energy to sit down in front of the computer to put anything into type. But when I can’t write the best thing to do is dive into my sketchbook to get the creative juices going, so this morning I joined a couple of friends on zoom for a bit of sketchbook practice.
As I was sitting there racing through the seven minute sessions to finish each little panel, it occurred to me that I was simultaneously writing about it in my head. A little bit like the process that occurs when I run, painting and sketching also activate those little writing cells. And in turn, a good writing session feeds the creative urge to draw and paint. However, the key to keeping up with both of these things is consistency.
Building a consistent sketchbook practice is a relatively new thing for me. Up until a couple of years ago, my art practice was a sporadic activity that consumed a few weeks every year when I would become intensely inspired by a single idea, work on it, execute it and then lose all interest in art until the next flash of inspiration. Likewise, writing was something I was always complaining about not having enough time to do, and then when I did have time I found a lot of other things to do instead.
Then, at the end of 2019, I discovered the Doodlewash challenge, a monthly list of prompts aimed at watercolourists. Each day you look at the prompt and produce a sketch or painting. As I had always been interested in learning how to use waterclours, this challenge seemed like a great way to get into a routine painting practice. I followed these prompts for a couple of months until I was ready to dive deeper into the craft of painting technique and art theory.
That started me on a journey of discovery, or rather sent me down a rabbit hole, of the world of online sketchbook clubs and online art teachers. It really is mindblowing how many amazing artists are out there sharing their processes and teaching the world how to improve whatever skills they are looking to get better at. Whether it’s figure drawing, oil painting, abstract art, illustration, or just finding a community of artists you can find common ground with, there is someone out there who can help you.
I have tried all sorts of new techniques and materials over the past three years, and learned so many new things about mark making and composition, but one thing that has remained is the consistency to sit down a few times a week to play in my sketchbook. With the help of these wonderful communities, and a consistent art habit, I have been able to improve my skills slowly but surely and find a path to the kind of art I feel happiest creating.
I’ve come a long way in my skills and can’t wait to see how they develop further. Hopefully, I can maintain this consistency in my writing too!
So, what do you do to stay consistent in your creative practices? Enquiring minds would like to know.
Until the next time, keep on creating!