Thursday, January 21, 2016

start a sketching routine

Sketching is a HUGE part of my life, it is the way that I practice, the way that I brainstorm ideas and even a way that I able to process and get my emotions out. I've spent years drawing, sketching and doodling and what I've found is that making time everyday for a sketching routine has made me more inspired, more creative and a better artist. 
Today I thought I would share a few ways to begin your own sketching routine! 

While I don't believe in spending lots of money on supplies, my materials are a really important part of my drawing process. The inspiration to sketch can hit at any time and I like to have all of my supplies on hand. There is nothing worse than wanting to draw but not having the right materials available. Before I purchase anything new, I always hunt for supplies that I already own and take time to explore them. 

I dig through my junk drawers, look around my studio and collect everything that can be used for drawing or doodling. I toss all these supplies into a big pouch and keep it next to my sketchbooks so I can grab everything I need to get busy drawing.

I like to take my supply gathering process a step further and explore everything that I have. I am always surprised at what I am able to find in my studio- supplies that I have forgotten about, supplies that are dried up or even ruined but still useable. Taking time to "reacquaint" myself with these supplies actually inspires me. I typically use a few blank pages and scribble, shade and make marks to remind myself what I can do with my materials.

  • Don't throw away dried out pens. You can use them in for adding light shading and subtle details to those drawings!
  • Dried out paint brushes the ones that don't get rinsed are a great tool for dipping in ink or acrylic paint. The stiff bristles are a wonderful way to add unique texture to an ink drawing.
  • White out pens and correction ink work great for drawing on black paper.
  • White colored pencils and crayons can be used to create a resist if you paint over the top of them.

The best thing you can do to begin a sketching, drawing or doodling routine is to commit time everyday to DOING IT! Sketching is just like any other practice and has always reminded me of exercise- it requires work, it can be painful in the beginning but after your get into a routine, the benefits FAR outweigh the the discomfort. Making time everyday, even if it's only 10 minutes, will set you on your way to getting better and more comfortable with the process.

In my dream world I would love to have 2 hours a day for sketching but these days I am juggling too many things. Once in a while I will clear out my schedule for a sketching project or will stay up late while everyone is sleeping but in my daily life I've had to learn how to be ok creating in small chunks of time. Ten minutes here while I wait for dinner to cook, 15 minutes drawing while Lucy draws, 20 minutes while watching t.v., another 10 minutes before I go to bed all adds up over the course of a day or a week. I think that smaller chunks of time are manageable and less intimidating when it comes to a sketching routine.

  • Try to look for small chunks of time in your schedule- like 15-20 minutes.
  • Ask yourself where in your schedule can you fit in 20 minutes to draw. Try drawing during those 20 minutes everyday for a week and see how it feels!
  • Double up on you time- try to identify different things in your schedule (like waiting for dinner to cook, waiting for a doctors appointment, drinking coffee, watching t.v.) that can be used for sketching. 

Inspiration and seeking ideas that are authentic, is one of the most important ways that I keep my work fresh. Sometimes the hardest part of the drawing process is facing a blank page and coming up with new ideas. For me it is necessary to stay off the computer and be present in my life and my surroundings.  My secret is looking at my schedule, my routine and the things in my life as potential inspiration for for my drawing process. I rely on the everyday moments and things as subject matter and fuel for my drawing.

  • Begin looking at your life (even the boring stuff) as potential for inspiration. 
  • Forget about creating drawings that anyone will see. Instead, accept that drawing can be just like keeping a private diary or journal. 
  • Find things in your everyday life to record visually. Meals, your clothing, pets, the plants in your garden, houses in your neighborhood are all great subject matter for sketching.

Lets face it, starting any kind of new routine can feel stressful and be filled with the pressure to succeed right away. To top off that pressure, inspiration doesn't always strike when you have free time. I've found that giving myself 10-15 minutes a day just to draw ANYTHING (even scribbles and shapes) really helps take the pressure off. Once you stop thinking you need to draw something beautiful, perfect or complete, you are better able to relax into the process. 

  • Instead of coming up with big grand ideas, I like to look around me and draw the things that I see- supplies on my desk, my grocery list, my outfit, my art supplies, the things in my purse, etc. Once you see potential in the everyday things around you, there is so much to draw and use as inspiration.
  • When all else fails...scribble! I know this sounds weird but there are days when I just don't feel like like drawing but I make myself pull out my drawing supplies and fill a couple of pages. On days like this, I scribble and make expressive marks and lines. Even though it's simple, this process always makes me feel creative and inspired!  

For those of you who are looking to start a sketching routine or even interested in learning to draw, I've got some of a few of my favorite drawing and doodling online classes marked down today! 

Sketchbook Delight, Doodle Delight and Draw With Me are all marked down!


Nela Dunato said...

Working in 15-20 minute increments is usually my own method as well. However, most of my dinners are stir-fry meals, so I'm too busy stirring to be able to sketch when I cook :)

I was so excited to try out white colored pencils as a resist, but alas, it didn't work very well... The watercolor paint covered my pencil marks completely, and only where the brush was very dry (so dry it left white streaks of paper) you could see bits of white line popping out.

I suppose it's because my pencils are highly pigmented, without too much wax filler.
That's too bad. I really hoped I'd be able to use this resist technique.
I don't like crayons, since I can't create precise and delicate marks with them.

Brooke said...

I received a "learn how to draw" book for Christmas this year because I'm such a doodler. I favor the "zentangle" or "zendoodle" style, which is similar to your beautiful sketches. You're so talented! LOVE Sharpies. Haven't found a way to commit to drawing every day before reading your post. You're right - practice is essential. Will definitely be starting a 20-minute-per-day sketching regimen from now on! Thanks!

SewPaperPaint said...

Absolutely FANTASTIC post and so relative. This is my one goal for 2016 - to practice drawing daily. I'm having a rough start, but am determined that this will be routine by the end of the year. Thanks so much for these helpful tips. I'm going to print and start organizing my little bags of drawing supplies at all my regular spaces. Hugs, Autumn

studioGypsy said...

thanks for the reminder and encouragement... i've been so lazy these days.. :P

Michael said...

Alisa, my wife follows you already and finds your work very inspiring. I do too but have only jsut discovered you through one of your wonderful art pieces on Pinterest.

Not only do you write well, your work is wonderful. I love the design of your blog too.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure you are fine with my showing on e your pieces for inspiration on my online art co-op ( I have of course given you full credit and linked back to the piece in question as well as your blog home page. I always want to check and not assume. Thank you. (If you would rather I did not show your art and link to you, that is fine too-- I can aways use another art piece but do love yours so!)

This is such a fun blog. I'm going to follow you, regardless! :)

Giddings Art said...

Your class, Sketchbook Delight, changed my life. I started carrying a small sketchbook with me to work so I could draw on my lunch break. I was amazed at how quickly I got in the habit and looked forward to it every day...and how many times I got so into my drawing I forgot to eat :). I also improved my drawing skills. 5 years later I am still in the habit of drawing every day. I look forward to your blog posts and all the inspiration you share each day. Thank you!

Brig said...

Thank you Alisa, I needed to hear this today. They are very good tips which I have lived by in the past but have got caught up lately ... Yes, a big reminder to take time out for me too in those small times that I can. It will be in my subconscious now.

Brig said...

Oh yes, and I do love the sound of white coloured pencil resist!!!

Hua said...

Alisa, you are inspirational on so many levels and I've followed your postings for years. Last year I challenged myself to sketch; I would go blank when I wanted to draw. Now, I find a lot of joy in sketching and have discovered that I have so many things to sketch and can draw faces very well; my kids complement me as they see their faces evolve on paper. Keep encouraging your readers! Thank you so much for sharing your creativity.

Mona said...

Such great tips Alissa. I especially love the one about accepting that drawing can be private. I have a hard time with that, I'm always trying to produced finished work.

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Caitlyn (ladyphlogiston) said...

Good post, though I don't do much sketching these days. It just doesn't straighten out my brain the way painting does, and I need to prioritize.

That said, I've have pretty good luck resurrecting dried out paint brushes by soaking them in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes. I don't use Golden (toddlers in the house means non-toxic paints) but it works on Liquitex and all the craft brands.

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