Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sketchbook frustrations and reflections

Today was one of those rare afternoons when I got to go out on my own and sketch. I was pretty excited setting off.

But everything I drew left me disappointed.

Part of the reason for this was that I was trying to experiment with media and styles. Another part of it was because the first thing I tried to draw was a complicated building facade a little beyond my skill level. And lastly, I was feeling self-conscious.

I've come to realise that although it's been fun drawing in a big sketchbook (A4) it is limiting in lots of ways. I feel almost oppressed by the paper size. What is a worthy subject for this scale of paper? (A grand city building or similar is my usual choice.) How will I fill/frame the page? (Awkwardly.) Do I have enough time to do this size justice? (Rarely.) And will people come over to have a look? (Yes.)

The better of the two sketches I did today. The first one is best forgotten altogether.

I think this size sketchbook was a little bit ambitious for me at my current skill-level and, more importantly, at this point in my life when I rarely have the luxury of time to fill the page.

I've realised a smaller book suits me, and the small, quick sketches I'm more likely to be able to complete. I only have a few more pages of this sketchbook left and I have to admit I'm relieved.

Here are the things I learnt today about how I want to approach sketchbook journalling and drawing:

- don't be disheartened, keep drawing
- keep experimenting (with media, style, subject)
- keep it small and manageable
- take your time, don't rush, avoid approaching the drawing with too much self-consciousness
- avoid fussy building facades (for a while, anyway)

I'm still in the process of discovering why I keep a sketchbook and what purpose I want it to serve.

I think I am ready to try and keep only one sketchbook (rather than the several books I have strewn about for different purposes).

I want to have that linear chronology of skill and idea development. It's almost like you are writing and drawing your life story, as it happens. The record that this creates will make it easier to connect the threads later - of story, of ideas, of how you got to where you are and who you are.

And I am attracted to the idea that I will be able to actually locate my notes and references (rather than trying to find the needle in the haystack of random journals and sketchbooks kept concurrently).

My purpose, at this time, for keeping a sketchbook journal is threefold:

- drawing as mindfulness practice: being present, a form of meditation and connection to self
- drawing to practice skills and improve ability
- communicate a personal vision: this is how I see things

(That last one is something I am trying to build my skill level up to achieve.)

I often get frustrated that my skills aren't up to my vision. The picture in my head is so complete, but the marks on the page are inadequate.

But I like the advice given by Cat Bennett in the book I have just devoured: The Confident Creative.

Start from where you are.