Back at the beginning of March I mentioned in our weekly newsletter that I was undertaking a sketchbook challenge. That is to say I would commit to doing a sketch a day, every day, for the whole of March. Maybe a drawing, maybe a painting, anything as long as it meant committing a proper amount of time to paper.
So some rules – I like rules, they make me do things. If anyone wants to get me to do something then create a rule-based system and hey-presto. My sketchbook challenge rules were:
- That it had to be more than just a couple of minutes of effort, ideally 20-30 minutes each day.
- I also had to do one sketch, not a selection that I could pick and choose from. I couldn’t reject or ‘lose’ a day just because I didn’t like it.
- And I had to experiment, so avoiding the pitfall of doing one picture I liked and then churning the same one out for a month. Why? Because I wanted to feel like I would discover something I might not have otherwise. That is what the creative process is about to me – finding something unexpected through challenging yourself.
The idea for this came thanks to Mike Lowery, an illustrator of books, maps and travel journals. I came across a video of his where he suggested a daily challenge. I think I might have converted that into a March-daily-challenge, or maybe that was his idea. I know I didn’t stop to think about it too long – that way doubt would creep in. I also know I had this vision of 31 days of 3rd-rate Mike Lowery style drawings set out before me.
It didn’t quite turn out that way. But I’m glad it didn’t. Along the way there were doubts (days 1 to 3 for sure), nearly-forgotten days (hello day 19, I’m looking at you), days of high-hopes dashed by the final result (sorry day 9, I tried so hard). But overall an amazing sense of enjoyment fed in no small part by liking the results even when I challenged myself to do something different to the day before. And a huge surprise at being able to visualise an idea and execute fairly well, whilst never quite knowing what I was doing at the same time.
The daily sketches
So will I go on? That is the big question I am asking myself now. Sadly a daily output is quite a tall order – somewhere between forgetting, not having the time and not wanting to it just won’t happen. But I now see things I want to put down on paper, so I think I will try and if I miss some days then so be it.
I choose a small-ish square sketchbook from Seawhite and was determined to stick to it. I loved the book I choose, and the paper took watercolour really well, but the small format was quite a challenge. Especially after several days when the pages became quite bulky. But I also quite like the ever-expanding nature of the book as it gets filled up.
I also started out with my trusty Sakura fineliner pen set, which made it through to day 31. Other pens fell by the wayside, mainly because I discovered watercolours and fell in love with them. I started out with a basic watercolour set which I quickly upgraded to a bigger set that gave me a wider set of colour options. Oh, and I obviously needed some brushes and this set seemed a bargain, and I have got on well with it so far.
It’s been a few days now since the sketchbook challenge ended, and I did wonder if that it would go no further. Happily I have kept it up almost every day since and look forward to finding a daily subject.