The Wonderful World of Artist's Journals
Ever wanted to do something artistic, but did not know where to start? Are you in a creative rut? Did you draw a lot as a child, but have you now drifted away from this pleasure? Maybe it is time to start a journal.
Oh yes, I know it may sound frivolous to talk about keeping a journal. You know it sounds like a talk-show affirmation: I will keep a journal next to my bed and ... But take a look on Pinterest at the example of artist's journals and you will see how big this trend has become. The quality of work in some cases is jaw-dropping, but do not let that intimidate you. Art journals are for anyone even slightly interested in drawing. Here are tips on how to start today.
Artist's journals are part drawing, painting, illustration and writing. They can be free form or follow a specific theme. Keep them in notebooks, loose leaf pages or napkins. You can write in them daily, on specific events like holiday travels or for a weekly recap on your life. Whatever works for you.
How to get started?
Keep it simple is always best. A few water resistant pens. A notebook with unlined paper. Perhaps some watercolor pencils or a small pan of watercolor pigments if color is important to you. Then start drawing. Add some notes on what inspired your drawing. Let the mood take you. Short form notes, free verse or stream of consciousness writing. Whatever resonates with your needs at the time.
My sketching kit is simple indeed.
A pencil roll-up containing water resistant pens (05 and 08 Pigma micron) a selection of Staedtler watercolor pencils, a watercolor brush and an A5 Eco journal. If I want to I may use a watercolor palette, but that is mostly for studio work. I may add to this kit, but I enjoy the spartan nature of it compared to the baggage that goes with an oil painting kit.
Whatever catches my eye is a worthy subject. A bottle of beer, a box of matches, the family dog sitting nearby - whatever grabs my attention. Another plus is that it makes outdoor work very easy for the introverts (like me). Sketch at the coffee shop, park, beach or bench at the mall. It is plein air without the stress.
Inspiration from Urban Sketchers
If the bug bites then look for inspiration from other sketchers. Look at urbansketchres.org and marvel at the beautiful journals. When ready start your own blog and post pictures now and then of your work. Who knows where it may lead?
There are many sketchers online to inspire you too. For example Tommy Kane has a fun blog full of stories and drawings. While visiting the urban sketchers blog I came across a correspondent for Africa. In fact the only correspondent for Africa is a South African namely Cathy Gatland. I am sure we can increase that number! Anyone volunteering? You can follow this link if you are keen to join.
Worried About Your Drawing Ability?
The only drawback about looking at world class sketchers is that you may begin to question your own ability. Stop right there. Sketching is a process like any other skill. It develops slowly with practice. All you need is to be motivated enough to start. Learn as you go and little by little. For example if you want to draw a bottle you can look up lessons on YouTube on that topic. Try it out in your journal. Add some shading as the next step. Next time a little colour, if you like. Perhaps a few notes?
Before you know it you have learned the skill of drawing a bottle. That is how to level up slowly and effectively.
Meditation for the Weary Artist
Sketching will not only inspire you, but will also help you when you are feeling tired of your regular creative pursuits. Sometimes you simply feel burned out, flat and bored with your main creative work. Painting too much can lead to times when I need to do something else. Even though I love to paint I also need variety. Sketching keeps my mind in a relaxed mode. It is like meditation. Thoughts stop shouting for attention. A state of calm takes over. Soon I am back painting again.
Make a Start
I hope that inspired you to give sketching a go. Please send me a note of your progress if you like.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa