A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook!

I feel as if I should be giving you a slow cooker recipe to correspond to this article. I may joke but ultimately in today’s day and age, whatever your background – whether you’re a professional single parent, retired, semi professional, career focused or a student, there is a fact that is common to all of us.

Our time is finite whatever our background.

One of the most common questions and statements I hear often is “how do you find the time?”

I find the time because I make time. My sketching on a daily basis is a priority to me because it supports my well being and creative development. So before you read about “my day in the life of my sketchbook” take a moment to personally align yourself to why you like drawing and sketching in the first place.

Whatever your reason you will need to focus on the positive outcomes it brings you so that it can climb to the top of your priority list.

In my previous post I talk about what motivates us to get creative and how we can easily get discouraged if we don’t establish some routines and parameters to grow and develop.

There were some suggestions to stop and think about where you can squeeze your day in order to be able to seize it, and find the time to “book” in some drawing if need be.

I admit, however, that simply wanting to draw and viewing it as a priority is not enough. I’m going to be laying out some templates for you to use from my own sketchbooks on the basis of the type of day I am having. Your job is to decide which situation resonates in your mind the most. As you grow and develop you will probably find yourself using different formats for different occasions.

Quick Sketching Across My Day!

In the pictures to the right you will see pages with a segmentation of 3 sketches that correspond to the availability of time across my day. In the main blog picture you will see the completed version. On the day I sketched these I spread my sketching across the course of my day starting at 10am. Every day may look different.  The sketching of my little boy on the sofa was done on a busy weekend at different intervals. I’m going to run through a typical day for the top series of sketches when I am pushed for time.

I set myself 10 minutes for each sketch.

10am – Coffee Machine during my coffee break. Quick sketch and watercolour wash with some watercolour pencil to emphasise shape.

Midday (after lunch) – sketch of the pot of heather I need to plant out in the garden. Unfinished! (Will need to come back to this later!)

Evening – pencil case plus tidying up the sketches of the day and perhaps going over line with micron pen

There is much to be said about spreading the day on your page.

Keep your sketches as small as you are able. The smaller they are the more manageable they may be for you. Focus on objects that have linear shapes for speed. So, in this case, the coffee machine was a set of lines, the heather is made up of intricate lines and little buds, and the long slim pencil case is full of equally interesting long slim pencils and pens. And don’t forget that colour is your friend too. Watercolour is super speedy!

A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook
A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook
A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook
A Day in the Life of my Sketchbook
A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook
A Day in the Life of My Sketchbook

The “One Object” Sketch

Sometimes focusing on one object time and time again creates something spectacular. This is particularly effective if you like a theme or have a passion or interest for a particular thing . In my case it was apples! Before I started sketching I was a keen daily writer in a journal. I’m not sure why I have not combined both more often, but in this instance, sketching one thing over and over again can lead to “spin” off ideas for creativity. My sketch of apples led me on a literary quest to track down interesting references to apples across literature that I referenced around my sketch. This technique is particular good for daily journalling.

Mushrooms (or any vegetable in fact) are another great subject. I set aside a full page of ink drawings just for these. These objects stand alone. They don’t necessarily need colour, they are beautifully “put” and instantly recognisable by their shape and unusual texture. This time I actually inserted different types of paper into the drawing to break up the page a little. (And of course inserted a little chili for a flash of colour.)

Notice again how I tend to split my page into different sections. Drawing the same object over and over again can also work well if you are pushed for time.

The “Small” Sketch

You all know how much I love a small sketch! I carry pocket size sketchbooks around with me.  (To the point that I wanted to build a sketchbook range for others to embrace the habit and benefit from small sketching.) A compact sketchbook is great if you are on the go and perhaps shy about being seen to to be drawing. Its an all round great first step into sketching.

I’ve included some quick ink drawings that were done in a small square sketchbook. I focused solely on these for 7 straight days. Small sketching, compact and quick. There was something satisfying and un-pressured about sketching small things for 7 days. I find that the small sketch is great for focusing in on specific details that you might want to practise. It could be line, it could be a very basic shape with a focus on colour.

If you are a total beginner (or intermediate or advanced) you could look to split your page down further to create a set of teeny weeny sketches. I also did this for a 7 day stretch of time. 12 boxes in your small sketchbook. I drew all my breakfast things in the space of time it took my children to slurp their cereal. A fantastic advocate for the small sketch is Matilda Tristram and her book My Year in Small Drawings! Now there would be a challenge!

The Power of Small Drawings

So there you have it.

A few days in the life of my sketchbook.

Three different types of page I like to construct when I am sketching.

Let me tell you, there are lots of different constructs you can use to suit your style, character, location (whether you like to travel for example) as well as confidence level. In Emily’s Notebook 30 day course, designed to support you build your signature style, I delve into how you can create a sketchbook framework suited to you so that you are more likely to stick to a sketching habit to produce results.

There is one more thing I will ask of you seeing as you have made it this far through the article. Keep an eye out now for how people work in their sketchbooks. Make a mental note of the ones you are drawn to and what you enjoy looking at.

I’d love to see your sketches and the types of pages you create!

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