Friday, August 14, 2015

Beginning a Daily Sketchbook Habit -- Thoughts after 30 Pages

Sketchbooks haven't been an easy thing for me to embrace. I've always loved the idea of them, but in practice, they intimidated me. I've said that before. Back when I announced my sketchbook collaboration with Dana Barbieri I shared some of my thoughts of... I guess you'd say inadequacy. And fear. There's a lot of fear mixed up when a person starts something new, isn't there? I had a lot of fear about making art when I first started. Fear that I didn't know what I was doing. Fear that I wouldn't be any good. It was a late start for me. And a slow one. I think at first when I leapt into creating an artistic life I was afraid to admit what it was that I really wanted to do: make art. It might sound silly now, but then it was a scary thing to say I wanted to be a painter. I didn't know how to paint. I wasn't good at painting. I wasn't good at drawing. How could I possibly be a painter? I inched into it. Trying it out while also, first and foremost, sewing and crocheting (both fun and creative things, but not painting).

I'm not sure if that explains why sketchbooks didn't become a part of my creative practice. I used them. In the beginning, mostly to plan out projects and usually with just as many words as drawings. Even after I began to paint regularly my sketchbook didn't become a habit.

This year I embarked my project with Dana. At about the same time as we started our project, Dana was beginning a project of her own, a daily sketchbook practice that she was sharing on Instagram. I follow other artists on Instagram with daily art projects and I guess their inspiration helped to push me over the edge. I had been using my own sketchbook more than ever and was also working out ideas and testing colors and techniques with my watercolor sketchbook, too. Upon finishing filling up the basic sketchbook I'd been using (begun last October... a feat for me to finish in less than a year -- and this one was big, 144 pages). I decided to start two new sketchbooks. One for working out plans for paintings or other things like designing and testing linocuts and one for sketching in daily.

I began working in my daily sketchbook on July 13. To help hold myself accountable I've been posting photos of my pages daily on Instagram; it was a scary thing to publicly declare my intention. Not even a week into my challenge I missed a day. I've missed a total of 3 days so far, but I'm being gentle with myself. I can always pick up again tomorrow when I miss a day. Tomorrow is always there with a fresh start when I don't like the sketch I've done on a given day, too.

sketchbook, daily sketchbook, art practice, sketching, doodling, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm often stumped by what to sketch, but thanks to working in the 2x2 Sketchbooks I've lost a lot of my fear of the blank page. Mostly I work from flowers in the garden (or cut from the garden) and I usually sketch with my Micron pens.

It's not always easy, but I'm always glad I've pushed myself on those tough days. My biggest challenge is overcoming tiredness at the end of the day (and a couple days I've skipped sketching because of headaches). If I were smart I'd always sketch early in the day, but I like to use my sketchbook as a break to get outside and spend time in the garden.

I know my practice will evolve over time, as all things do. I'm open to whatever comes. I'm letting myself and this part of my creative expression develop while letting myself find my own way. Even if it's been a slow and tentative beginning I can see progress and I am happy to have embraced something that was scary to me.

What about you? Is there something that you've been longing to try or to be able to do (maybe even secretly)? Why don't you try it. You'll probably surprise yourself to learn what you're capable of.

14 comments:

  1. Don't they look fabulous, posted here all together?
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just found your blog and Instagram and I am so inspired... I am going to try out a daily sketchbook project of my own. Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Tara! That makes me so very happy! I love it when we inspire each other! Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck with your sketchbook!

      Delete
  3. I am so impressed Anne! I have had a hard time embracing sketchbooks as well. I usually misplace it and it's not findable when I need it so I grab whatever is around, like the back of an envelope or whatever is handy. I currently have a few sketchbooks going but don't draw in them as much as I should.

    I love your sketches shown all together like this. Did you use an app for that? I used one that did that and forgot what it was called.

    You should consider joining the 30 paintings in 30 Days with Leslie Saeta. It might get your work seen by more people (sales!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jaime! I've found it so interesting that many artists have a hard time with sketchbooks or don't use them. I think the feeling that we "should" do it can be off-putting. On the other hand there are artists who fill up book after book. I guess it's a bit like journaling, too. And there are always ebbs and flows.

      I put the photos together with Photoshop. Maybe an app would have worked better, or at least been faster, but I wanted control of how it all went together. Long ago I used Picasa to create photo mosaics, but I remember it not working the way I wanted it to. There are probably other apps that I don't know about.

      I love the idea of the 30 paintings in 30 days, but I wonder about being able to keep up with it because the way I paint usually takes longer than a day a painting and I have other art that I want to focus on. Maybe I'll try doing mini-paintings. Hmmm... you have got me thinking! This might work. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

      Have you done the 30 paintings in 30 days? It would be kind of fun to commit to it together...

      Delete
  4. Anne your sketchbook is a beautiful practice, journey and big inspiration. Thank you for sharing those moments and images!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Aga! :)

      Your thoughts always mean so much to me.

      Delete
  5. Not sure if it was about journals or sketchbooks but I found a good bit of advice that helped me - that first blank page . . . instead open the book at random somewhere and start there. Somehow it was not so intimidating. Love your work, M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Madeline! Yes, I've read that, too. Not sure where and possibly in a couple places. I say that whatever helps you to get going with creative endeavors is good! Thanks for sharing the tip!

      Delete
  6. Hi Anne, I'm just reading this - so glad you persevered in your artwork. It is so lovely! Love the collage of all your sketches. I'm about to begin a daily sketchbook, and you've given me extra inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Judy! Thanks so much. I'm glad I persevered, too.

      I'm happy to hear that you're going to begin a daily sketchbook. I think the practice is so good for us. I hope you'll share some of your sketches on your blog!

      Delete
  7. Congrats on 30 pages Anne! I'm glad that the fear of the blank page has vanished. I think when you realize how fast a page is done and forgotten about you get over it. The only thing I struggle with at times is sharing the page. I wonder if I did it and didn't share it would it change the page? Something to think about I guess. There can be pressure in making a "good" page when you publicly share it but I like the accountability and I guess sharing the pages you don't like makes it all the more real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Dana! I've been thinking a lot about that. And wondering, myself, if I am not being very adventurous in my sketches because I know I'm going to share them. There are some things I want to experiment with, but I find myself wanting to experiment "offline" on private pages so I don't have to be afraid of sharing "failures". I like the habit and being able to hold myself accountable, but there is a disconnect, I think, when the aim is sharing the sketches.

      Delete