I’m Glad My Sketchbook Isn’t Pinterest-Worthy

One of my personal quirks carries over into my art- I am a bit of a control freak. 

There are a lot of ways that valuing control can be good, within reason. But my need for artistic control is what ultimately lead to the creative block that I struggled with last year.

Somewhere along the way, I think it was in high school; I developed a habit of starting right out on a sheet of paper and working on that sheet until I finished the piece. Sketch and erase, sketch and erase, over and over until I got it right.You can see where this is going.  I got stuck. Really, really stuck. I was frozen by the fear of having to scrap a project because it wasn’t working and if I did create anything that stiff feeling showed in my work. I started thinking about ways to change my workflow and get out of that rut.

The secret is not really a secret- Loosening up, letting go of my need for control (mostly), and experimenting without worrying about things being perfect has changed everything. 

I had to start sketching more! *Gasp!* I wish I could go back and knock high-school me over the head with a sketchbook. The whole “destination not the journey” thing is 100% true, even in art and design. It is still not easy giving up the urge to get everything “just right” the first time. I stumbled across a solution by accident- I was sitting around with my sketchbook and my favorite felt-tip pen (it is pink ombre!), and I started doodling. 

If you aren’t sketching in pen, you need to try it. Find a really cool pen and go for it. I promise it will be worth it!

If I have an idea, I start drawing. I use up the whole page, haphazardly drawing all over the place. Each time the drawing doesn’t look right, I move over and try again. One of the benefits of not erasing is being able to compare versions of the image and being able to see what is going well and what aspects still need tweaking. There is something about a page of loose, gestural sketches that is so satisfying. And we all know that making a bit of a mess is fun, too! 

We all see those picture-perfect sketchbook pages on social media. I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cool sketchbooks. My sketchbook isn’t like those. 

But kind of like how everyone has their own sense of the world around them, my sketchbook has its own beauty in my eyes because it captures a little part of the world as I see it. 

Sketchbook Concept Development Watercolor Illustration Moths

That said, every so often I manage to create a page of doodles that I think others will enjoy looking at, and I will be sharing them as I go along. I am still a bit shy about my new workflow, but I know how much I love seeing the behind-the-scenes work of other artists, so I am going to go out on a limb and share one of my own snapshots! 

Yes, I couldn’t help but stage the photo a little! 

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