My 2021 sketching goals

January 8, 2021 | 5 Comments

As promised last week, I want to share my sketching goals for 2021. I’m not really big on New Year’s Resolutions and I’m also not super focused on setting goals as such. Instead I like to think about building habits which will move me in the desired direction.

Those of you who receive my monthly newsletter got a preview of these goals last week… but in this article I want to expand on them and share how I intend to do work on these aspects. So here are my five sketching ‘goals’.


1. Set aside time for some serious sketching sessions

One of my big achievements of 2020 was my 11 week virtual trip to Europe. I was a little surprised (in a very good way) that I managed to stick with my programme and sketch for the full period. It has proved to me that if I have a clear plan and set aside time, I can find the time for my sketching.

So I’m trying to find ways of making some sketching moments during the day – times when I pause and ask myself ‘what am I doing today? is there some way that I can sketch it?’ My initial idea is to use the times when I break from my work in order to eat or drink. So morning tea time and at lunch would be a good start.

I’m also wanting to revive the habit of evening sketching session. When I worked full time this was often the only time I had.

As for the afternoons… I’m currently spending a number of afternoons a week working at one of my local cafes. It’s always a super productive work session and I normally sketch something (even if it’s just the coffee art that the baristas create especially for me). I’m very thankful that we are still able to visit cafes, so I want to make the most of it! I spend so much time on my own that the little banter between the staff and me really keeps me going. It’s more interesting for my sketching if I simply get a takeaway, but it’s more social and better for my work if I sit in. This ties in to my next goal…


2. Do more sketching on location

This year I realised that it didn’t matter what I sketched, the important thing was simply being out in my local area sketching the world around me. I just love going out urban sketching – I love being in my own little world and connecting with my local community at the same time.

I had really a productive winter, getting an afternoon takeaway coffee and then visiting a few good local spots to sit and sketch over and over again, but I haven’t found any suitable summer locations. So in combination with my thoughts about visiting my local cafe, I want to mix it up – some days sitting in and other days getting takeaway and sitting out on the streets to sketch!

Another thing which will tie in these first two goals is to schedule weekly sketching outings. I have tried this before over the years, but I want to try it again now. Especially as I am currently able to get out sketching, I should make the most of it!


3. Tell better stories

As mentioned last week, I finished 2020 by going through the year’s sketchbook collection in one sitting. It was an incredible journey through a very momentous year. I’m glad for every page I created, but there is room for even more details of my everyday life – more sketches of the commonplace events and elements of my day and more writing. I’m hoping that being more intentional about scheduling sketching sessions (Point No. 1) will help here… but I do need to think about some specific story-telling strategies.


4. Continue to develop my sketchbook layouts

Even when I’m not sketching much, I always put in a little time to design the composition of my sketchbook pages. And as a result I’m much more pleased with my efforts each day! During the preparation of my new course in the last few months – Sketchbook Design – I realised just how much I love the design process of keeping a sketchbook. I really want to try new things with my sketchbooks in 2021 – and my mind is already buzzing with new ideas from the first few days of the course!


5. Continue to go live

There are no words to describe how much I love going live with the SketchingNow group, being able to answer questions in real time and do some unplanned, risk-taking and spontaneous demos.

This week we had a fantastic first livestream for the course. It was super interactive and a lot of fun!

I do intend to do more publicly later in the year but for now doing weekly livestreams for Sketchbook Design is a wonderful way to start working on this goal.

As I look through all of these five sketching goals, I can clearly see how going through my new course – Sketchbook Design – with the group will really help me establish these goals in the first two months of the year. In fact, as I’m writing this article I’m thinking about a lot of the things which we looked at during Wednesday’s livestream! So a huge thanks to everyone who was part of it. It’s not too late to join – find out more here.

Have you set any art goals? I would love to hear what they are… please comment below!

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  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Liz, Thank you for sharing what’s going on in your head and life. It really helps me on my sketching journey to know that even accomplished sketchers/artists struggle with direction, goals and motivation on and off. I want to do more sketches on location this year, and I am trying to sketch everyday, although I don’t necessarily produce a complete sketch everyday, and that is ok. I am trying to create a routine so I don’t wander around the house doing chores just to find myself at night, tired, and no sketching that day! Social media takes away a lot of time from your day too if you are not careful with the amount of time you spend looking and commenting on others art. It is a conundrum indeed, as I want to encourage my fellow sketchers, but sometimes that comes at the cost of my own art! Not sure yet where the balance lies, but for now, I am limiting myself at an hour in the morning while I bask in the sun like a cat, catching up on email and posts. In the middle of the day I will look at the news, while I eat. I am trying not to go online at night before bed and instead, Read one of the dozens “how to sketch” books I have, some never touched and others deserving a 2nd or 3rd or 4th pass! ( I read your 5-minute architecture book twice now and it basically stays on my night stand, lol). My last goal is to trim down my sketching tools to “1-1-1-1” : 1 pencil, 1 pen, 1 sketchbook, 1 watercolor box. This should lighten my load and make sketching on location more practical! By the way, I am really enjoying thinking and composing sketchbook pages on the new class! Wow! There are a lot of people participating in the course! it might be a record attendance for you for a single course run, isn’t it?

  • Will M says:

    Please post more videos on YouTube, I don’t think you have posted anything for awhile. Your videos are great!

  • Fran Arthur says:

    thank you for sharing your 2021 goals. Today, I have just received my copy of “5-Minute sketching ARCHITETURE” which was bought on a $75 dollar Amazon Gift Card provided by my employer for working under COVID conditions. Along with your book I purchased Sketching People by Lynne Chapman, The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario and Pen & Ink Workbook by Alphonso Dunn. All these books will be special for me as it was a gift form my employer; however yours will always stand out as I am currently enrolled in you “Sketchbook Design” on line class which I have been extremely enjoying. My 2021 goals are: Loosen my sketch and paint style; improve composition; develop a daily sketch habit; improve my artistic ability and find the path to truly enjoying my drawing and painting experiences. I am on my tenth sketch book page using the Fabriano Hardcover 5″x7″ The first half of this sketchbook was used during an PleinAir course taken through the Studio School with Robin Poteet in Roanoke Virginia ( I am now in Portland Oregon and your online course will be the first art class since I departed Virginia in 2018. So continuing on where I left off seems to unbelievable to me as these last two years have been difficult transition. First finding employment moving out of an apartment into a house and then COVID. I am looking forward to completing the Fabriano sketchbook with your guidance from your on line course. I want to thank you for offering this opportunity to learn and grow plus the bonus of the co sketchers as the class is extremely large. Looking forward to the future lessons as your online school is quite awesome. Keep giving us motivation and guidance for 2021!

  • Donna Naugle says:

    Thank you so much Liz!
    Just getting started on my goals for this year…You gave me some great ideas.

  • Pavis Paints says:

    Ah, you’ve helped me shape my goals. Thanks you for writing this 🙂

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