I’ve been thinking lately about the practice of sketching for artists and how you explain that to those who don’t keep a sketchbook as well as non-artists. I am working through the idea of being a sort of art mentor one-on-one with people as well as possibly sketchbook classes or workshops. I am not so much interested in the mechanics of basic drawing and painting as I am the creative and therapeutic benefits of keeping a sketchbook and journaling and guiding people along their own process of finding their artistic voice.
Why do I sketch?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of the word sketch is a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture, as well as, to give a brief account or general outline of something.
In art school, a sketchbook was a prescribed tool by our instructors. We were told to carry it with us everywhere. We also were taught the task of the thumbnail sketch (pages of them) to plan out our finished pieces and we were often graded on those sketches.
It wasn’t until many years later that I actually started to look at my sketchbook in a different light. I have always been somewhat of a journaler and found that valuable to not only document my life but give me insight as I did a brain dump onto those pages. As I started picking up my sketchbook again and use it to document everyday ordinary things I found the benefits in that as well and realized the two weren’t all that different.
Now I carry around a sketchbook with me almost always. I like a size that is small enough to fit in my purse or bag and with it I carry a variety of pens and pencils. I have come to love it and to look for every opportunity I can to sketch. For me, sketching is play and there are no rules. I have learned to turn off my inner critic that tells me not to mess up the page because it is bound into a book.
Sketching is a pure immediate visual response to my observed surroundings. Whether it’s a memory I am trying to capture or a detail I find beautiful, sketching forces me to slow down and truly pay attention. The ordinary becomes extraordinary and the details of life that can easily be overlooked take on new meaning in its special notice. Sketching makes me want to sit and take notice of everything. It develops in me a gratitude of sorts as I learn not to take the little stuff in life for granted.
I have even found that sketching has helped me in dealing with chronic pain. When I can focus on something other than how I feel, the pain doesn’t have the opportunity to be forefront in my mind. They say that whatever you give your attention to grows…I would rather have that be my creativity and the world around me waiting to be explored.
I would love to hear from those of you who keep a sketchbook why you sketch.