I laid out my sketchbooks recently and was quite surprised to find I’ve gathered up quite a bunch already.
I’ve always had sketchbooks even as a kid but I drew in them sporadically. I only started to fill up an entire sketchbook in 2010. I wasn’t an illustrator yet then; I was working as a fulltime graphic designer and drawing was merely a hobby– a mindless and inconsistent pastime for idle moments at work while I was waiting for client feedback on my design projects.
In 2016/2017 when I already a professional illustrator, upon God’s leading, I let go of my illustration agent (more on that in a blog post some time in the future). Without client work limiting my art, and struggling with artist’s block, I decided to make sketchbooking a regular, “official” habit. I say official because I started labeling my 2016-and-beyond sketchbooks as #1, #2, #3…
I didn’t want to impose a daily drawing habit on myself (I didn’t want it to become an obligation) but I drew often enough that I felt off/weird if I went too long without drawing in my sketchbook.
I would draw what I wanted, and often drew the things on my mind– song lyrics, Bible verses, random thoughts. My sketchbook ended up as a visual journal of sorts.
I did have one rule in my sketchbooking: NO USE OF PENCIL. My rationale behind this was I wanted to keep my drawings fast and loose, no overthinking. After all, it was “just” a sketch. I wanted to lay down lines on the page and just go with whatever I end up with, mistakes and all.
I almost exclusively used colored pens for my first few sketchbooks but veered to using watercolors and acrylics as well because some of my sketchbooks were for wet media.
The beauty of sketchbooks is they’re not as intimidating as a blank, white, pristine canvas– I feel like my sketchbooks are a dumping ground of whatever art I feel like chucking out for the day. My work doesn’t have to be polished or finished. They’re a snapshot of what’s currently going on in my art, like this “weird art phase” I went through after I let go of my illustration agent. It was a reflection of my uncertainty then. I was so unsure of where my art was going, I started doing abstracts, hahahaha!
At the time of this writing, I’ve just finished sketchbook #4 and I’m starting on a new one. I said at the beginning of this post that I was surprised to see how many sketchbooks I’ve had already. I was focused on the simple, consistent act of drawing one page at a time, which is small, slow, and it doesn’t seem much. But when you take a step back, you’ll see how these small, consistent steps compound over time to build up a larger whole.
Here’s to more sketchbooks in the future! I am just getting started 🙂
Check out my YouTube videos of my sketchbook flipthroughs: