I normally find that I struggle to sketch when I return from a big sketching trip. I might be quite mentally inspired from my overseas adventures but everyday life is super busy and more or less uninspiring. I always have good intentions to sketch more and often use my long haul flight to develop some plans to do this. But normally life takes over and my sketching slumps. Click here to read more about that.
This year after my 11 week epic European trip, I did manage to do a lot of sketching once I was back home, but this was mainly due to the fact that I had an insane amount of outings – practically every day – which gave me some sketching opportunities. I also changed my normal everyday sketchbook (Stillman and Birn Alpha softcover 8 x 10) to a smaller book (more about that later).
This time, I have arrived back to a normal state of work life – ie. lots of work to do with a few outings a week (meetings, appointments etc). And (drum roll please) I’m actually happy with what I have achieved. I haven’t done many ‘good’ sketches but I’m pleased with how I’m documenting my ‘boring’ everyday life.
So what’s different?
- Lowering expectations
I have been inspired by Suhita’s beautiful messy journal pages. Somehow seeing her produce them in real life created an extra layer of inspiration. Not that she is doing anything too radically different from me (well, apart from sketching her family a lot – while I live alone) but we had some great chats about process and composition. And so, this time being back home, I’ve kept my expectations at a minimal. Success is simply doing a sketch, not how good it is.
- Smaller sketchbook
I have been using the Stillman and Birn Alpha softcover 5.5 x 8.5 book and this size is really freeing me up to just go for it. The smaller size makes it easy to fill up whole spreads with a super quick line sketch. And it’s lightweight too.
- More comfortable with my people sketches.
I still have a long way to go with the development of my people sketching skills, but I have become content with where they are at the moment. You will see an example below where I have added notes reminding myself of mistakes.
- Documenting every thing even if it’s ‘boring’.
It’s easy to find your everyday life and surroundings uninspiring – particularly after travelling – but sketching for me is all about documenting my life and doing so in lines and shapes. Boring places are part of my life, but they can often have interesting shapes and compositions. So that is what I am focusing on.
- Using more line sketches.
While I would love to get my watercolour out more, I’m happy just with a simple line sketch. It gets my hand moving and it’s a good record of the events in my life.
- Making time.
I have been making sure that I allow myself a little sketching time at the cafe in the morning to sketch some people, and to sketch from the car park when I go out to the gym. Its only a short period of time (5-10 minute), so it’s totally okay to add this to my outings.
- Thinking long term.
I’m trying to trust the process ie. that over time I will develop special techniques for making these boring sketches more interesting. But right at the moment I’m just concerned with doing and trying for 1% improvement each day.
So that enough talking about my sketches… here is a selection of what I have done in the last 3 weeks. I have grouped them by type rather than sticking to chronological order, but in general I’m filling two spreads per day.
Final pages of my Travel Sketchbook
Morning Cafe visits
Everyday outings (and other stuff)
So what about you – how do you go sketching the boring things of life? Do you struggle with the pressure to produce a masterpiece?