Monday, March 24, 2014

Just keep drawing

For a long time my aim was to make sketching a daily habit. And finally, I feel it is.

I get itchy fingers if I haven't sketched for a day. And pulling out the sketchbook at every opportunity has become second nature.

I even look at scenes during times I can't sketch and imagine how I'd compose them on the page. What I'd put in, what I'd leave out.

But a funny thing has also happened. At the same time as I'm sketching more and more, my standards for my own sketches are getting higher. Sometimes higher than I can currently meet. I'm more often disappointed with what I produce, whereas previously I'd be happy just to have made marks on the page.

I have to keep reminding myself that the outcome is not the point, it's the process. It's about the exploration of materials and subject. And the precious state of creative flow that is achieved mid-sketch. Being present. A state so hard to achieve in everyday life, which is almost always about what's next.

An improvement in skill is a desirable by-product of keeping a sketchbook, but not the actual point.

Also something brought me up short the other day. I discovered at the bottom of a drawer a sketchbook I'd tried to start about four years ago. I wasn't in the habit of sketching back then, not one little bit. And I was amazed at how far I've come.

I have improved, I realised. I just haven't noticed it. Like the way your children grow before your eyes, so you barely even notice until you look back at photos and are floored by the changes.

Lately, when I have been frustrated by the outcome of a sketch, every fibre of my being has urged, 'just leave it, have a break from the sketchbook, this is not working'. But what I actually need to do is the opposite. Keep going. Smash through that block.

Just keep drawing.