Last week: Why am I doing this every day?

August 22, 2016 | 11 Comments

Before I start with my big thought from last week, I just want to thank everyone who left a message on this article about finding inspiration in the daily grind. Lots of great thoughts and challenges – thank you!

Following on from that theme I couldn’t help thinking about a related issue:

The benefit of sticking to a daily routine even if the inspiration isn’t there all the time.

I have been sketching my latte every weekday morning since mid November last year. It’s nearly always the same coffee order (a regular skinny latte) but of course the coffee art is unique each day. I still love doing them and I still don’t feel like I am nailing it every time (hmm, every day I think I haven’t done a great job!) but I do wonder at times:

why am I doing the same thing over and over every day?

The reasons:

  • I enjoy it and I am not bored at all – each day I still want to sketch my latte.
  • There is still room for improvement in accuracy, particularly because I am working at speed.
  • I just love starting my work day moving pigment around on the page with my dagger brush and it is nice that I don’t have to think about what to sketch.
  • I am still searching for new ways to sketch this subject matter – both the objects and the texture of the crema.
  • If my day gets out of control at least I have done one sketch.
  • It is a way of recording the unique little incidents that happen every day. I love being part of the lively community that exists in my local cafe each morning.
  • Its a small sketch so it doesn’t take a lot of time which is critical as I am really at the cafe to do important work.
  • When I put them all on a weekly spread I have a great compositional challenge over progressive days.

Ok, is that enough reasons to continue?

So big idea of the week was:

Having a little sketching ritual is great for keeping you turning up and doing something!
Its repetitive nature opens the door for pushing the boundaries.

So I will finish with Friday’s version which turned out different again.

Note: I was away from home over the weekend so I’m unable to share with you the full collection this week, but I will catch up next week.


A challenge for you:

Find an object that is part of your daily routine and sketch it 5 days in a row in the coming week.

And if you somehow missed it, registration is now open for my new SketchingNow Buildings online course – 6 week course starting on 7 September. Don’t miss out!


  • Anna Jones says:

    Hi Liz
    I love your blog! I have recently started sketching and have nearly completed your Foundations course which I found very helpful. I am an Australian living in Glasgow and so it is nice to hear a friendly Australian voice. And it was great to follow your travels through Scotland as I have friends in Harris. Aren’t the Scottish landscapes delightful? I never tire of them. Encouraged by you I draw my cup of tea every morning and I love it – it is a safe way of trying to push myself – negative spaces, shadows, perspective. I try something different, or if I’m just too tired or too pushed for time, I aim for speed! Thanks for all the tips and encouragement – I just love looking at your work and reading your reflections. Anna

  • This reminds me of something I just read by jean Haines about painting for the bin. She starts and ends each studio day by playing around with color, shape, etc. She knows they’ll probably be unkeepable, but it helps her get in the flow and learn stuff about her paint, the water, etc. It takes the pressure off. Your latte is sort of the same thing. It gets you in the flow. I started pulling out a piece of paper at the beginning of my painting time. I just play for a bit. If I get going with something interesting, I keep playing. If not, then I’m warmed up and ready to start/continue something else. It’s making a big difference in my performance anxiety – and I’m learning a lot.

    • Phoebe Wilson says:

      I love that phrase, “painting for the bin!”

    • I am going through Jean’s book at the moment and that phrase stuck with me as well. In my case, the challenge is scheduling the time for the bin. In the morning I rush to get going to work, in the evening I am tired and there are the errands … and so on. My “bin” moment seems to be more in the weekends ..

  • Emily D. says:

    This is a great challenge. Maybe I need to start drawing my own coffee–even though there’s no coffee art, since I make it myself! 🙂

  • Carmel Campbell says:

    This is a great challenge. Thank you for the idea. I have a coffee cup that is an odd shape and hard to capture. I also paint for the bin with Jean Haines. Except they don’t make it to the bin as the colors excites me and give me ideas for my sketches. Liz thank you for continuing to inspire us to sketch!

  • I took a watercolor class in which the teacher required us to select one object and then paint it twice a week for the entire semester. It was one of the best assignments ever. The first week or two, the object was still exciting and new. After that, i got bored with it–which made me look for ways to paint it creatively, ways to incorporate it into the stuff I really wanted to paint, etc. My object was a blue teapot, and by the end, it had featured as Cinderella’s coach, a character with legs (wearing striped stockings), and a wallpaper pattern, among others. Even after all these years, and having improved my skills exponentially, those paintings are hanging on my walls as some of my favorites.

  • Cathy Dwyer says:

    Hi Liz. Inspired by your daily latte sketches, back in February I started to draw and post on Instagram my coffee every morning, using as many different mugs as I had. I called it ‘my daily mugshot’. It was fun for a while but I lost interest in it after about two weeks. I accept your challenge to draw my coffee for the next five days. I plan to approach it with a new, positive attitude. Thank you for the challenge!

  • David Rodgers says:

    Most days for sometime I’ve drawn, or painted either a tree or a small group of trees in a loose manner. And I’m not done yet, the more I do it, the more I want to keep on doing it because there are so many subtle variations in terms of composition, shape, tone, colour etc. that I just love doing it – I did 14 yesterday evening in fact (just simple ones, but somehow I prefer these to the more detailed ones), and will dabble with some tonight too.

    And trees are an important of my life – I am a furniture maker too so it kind of all fits together somehow – not that I planned it that way.

  • Frank Bettendorf says:

    Liz your 8 reasons could be expanded and be guides for why we sketch/draw/paint. I think they are a terrific list. Thanks for a meaningful post.
    Frank B

  • Edie Beers says:

    This is what I need to keep me on trick. thank You

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