Before the new year gets away from me I want to document my goals/habits for 2022. Those of you who receive my monthly newsletter already know what these are, but I want to give a little more detail in this article. I also had more ideas after my usual yearly review. 🙂
More thoughts from my end of year sketchbook review
As I looked through my 2021 sketchbook collection I was thinking mainly about the storytelling aspect of my work. Creating a narrative of my life is the main reason why I keep a sketchbook so this is an ongoing theme to my work.
I was constantly asking myself how well did my sketches and/or notes record my day and as a result a few thoughts emerged
1. Sketching from photos was a little hit and miss
It was okay when it was part of a project (eg. Palladian Villas or Scottish Castles during my zoom catchups with Esther) or part of a Group Run-through of a SketchingNow course (I normally do the exercises and live demos inside my everyday book) but sketching from a random photo wasn’t as interesting as I reviewed my pages. Obviously sketching from photos has been a big part of our lives in the past two years, but if that’s what I choose to do, is there a way to have the photo more connected to the events of that particular day?
2. Sketching on location was always a good record of the day even though the subject matter was repetitive
I was wondering whether I would get tired of all my Lane Cove National Park sketches (I visited the park Mon-Fri for 15 weeks ) but I wasn’t! For every one of my bush sketches I tried to remember where I was at the time, I reviewed my techniques and the composition of the sketch. I also was able to relive the particulars of that visit thanks to the notes – such as how many water dragons I saw or whether I was harassed by a brush turkey or two!
The repetitive nature of local scenes means that subtle changes are recorded in addition to the weather (hot or cold, wet or dry) and the change in seasons.
And oh! I just love being out on location sketching – it’s so much more enjoyable for me than sketching from photos. My 2021 sketching really reinforced this even more! I love being outside (in any weather except for hot days!) and being surrounded by changing conditions (the light, the wind, people and traffic, or birds and turkeys!)
3. Objects tell stories
Even though I easily get bored by just drawing single objects, I always enjoy seeing sketches of objects and everyday still lifes in my sketchbooks mixed in with my urban sketches. It’s also surprising how effectively objects recall memories of the little things – the aspects of our life that we tend to forget.
And just for the record I never get tired of sketching teacups… but on review of a year’s worth of sketchbooks, I like it when I use one teacup constantly for a number of weeks and see the variations that occur within my sketches. It also creates a nice association with a specific period of time (eg. my houndstooth cup will always remind of the first half of the 2021 Sydney lockdown and Palladian villas)
4. Subject matter
Everyday life is all about doing the same time over and over again and so my everyday sketching naturally reflects that. The big challenge is finding variety within the daily routines and this does require effort.
I saw a lot of variety in my books throughout 2021 but it seemed to go in stages – eg. cafe sketching at the start of the year and bush sketches during the last 4 months. At times I long for more variety in my everyday sketching but to some degree, the repetition describes different phases in my life.
It’s no surprise to state the pandemic has seriously affected my motivation to do my people sketching (I don’t really want to sketch from photos), but instead, I’ve managed to focus on being out in nature more and that’s a win. So I’m not going to beat myself up for not doing more sketches of people in 2021!
It might be time to revisit my list of prompts for everyday sketching from 2018.
Okay…now it’s time to share some goals.
2022 Sketching Goals and Habits
As I mentioned in a recent article I’m much more interested in establishing habits than I am in setting goals (refer to James Clear’s book Atomic Habits for more on that). Goals without some more actionable steps are doomed to fail. But I still like to have a few big themes to work through during the year.
So my 3 overall sketching goals for 2022 are:
- telling better stories of my day
- sketching on location as much as possible
- finding new ways of sketching the same objects and scenes.
Some of you will notice that these are more or less the same as in 2021!
So in order to focus on these goals in a different way this year, I intend to build the following 3 habits in the first quarter of 2022:
1. Sketching in the morning when I go out for my takeaway coffee
Although I love the interaction with staff and locals when I sit down for a coffee, I’ve realised that it’s better for my sketching to get a takeaway and then find somewhere to sit and sketch – regardless of the weather!
This will be a great way to get my creative juices pumping first thing (the caffeine helps too!) and will be a good challenge. How easy will it be to find new views each day and how comfortable will I become sketching in very conspicuous locations. I’m particularly looking forward to finding new ways of sketching these ordinary scenes. This habit will help with all goals – but particularly the third.
Note: For the time being I intend to continue my weekday visits to Lane Cove National Park so this means that I have two on-location sketching sessions per day as a general rule (morning coffee and afternoon bushwalk)
2. Keeping my sketchbook open on my desk during the day
The plan is to have more short sketching breaks as I work and sketch more objects – other than teacups! Doing a small sketch during my workday can be a really good way of processing ideas and thinking through how best to tackle a task. As mentioned above, I love the stories that objects can tell so hopefully an open sketchbook will be a good prompt to do this more.
3. Working out some options for a short nightly sketching session
When I worked full-time as an architect I used to do a lot of sketching in the evening, but these days I just rarely do anything. I’m even finding it hard to finish off my pages and normally have to add the notes in the morning (it’s so much easier when my brain is refreshed!)
Back in October, I started a fun ‘just-for-me’ sketching project so I need to get back to that. But I want to try and sketch something connected to my day at least a few times a week. I think this will be the hardest routine to develop – although using the evenings for material testing might be a good way to start this habit.
The main idea behind these habits is to make time for sketching!
If I’m actually doing lots of regular sketching, the inspiration and motivation to try new things, start projects and develop my work will just happen! I also intend to create a list of ideas/projects to work on but will keep this to myself.
And oh! I also have two more ideas….
4. Do a quick sketch whenever I go out for an appointment or a social gathering… even if it’s just a simple continuous line drawing. I have a few small books with toned paper that I intend to use for these with the goal of collaging these into my main sketchbook.
5. Slow down and get into a good position so that my handwriting is always as neat as I can make it. I might take risks when I sketch and accept all kinds of loose lines, but when it comes to my handwriting my standards are higher!
This turned out to be a longer article than I intended… so it must be time for me to go and do some sketching now! 🙂
These are wonderful goals! You’ve put a lot of thought and some great ideas into how to achieve the goals you’ve set. I could use a lot of these approaches. Though I do T have a Lane Cove! Lol! Looking forward to your sketching journey this year!
An idea for sketching the same views in different ways: During the pre-vaccine time when I was staying pretty isolated in my neighborhood, I chose a couple of intersections that had hardly any traffic. I stood on the traffic circle (the small island with plants and caution sign in the middle of the intersection), and I faced a different direction for each sketch. So I ultimately had 8 sketches: North, East, South, West, then Northeast, Southwest, etc. Maybe there’s some similar safe spot you can find to turn in a different direction each day.
I’m looking forward to hearing how you decide to sketch in the evening. While I have no problem sketching in the morning or afternoon, I rarely sketch in the evening… I just don’t have the same energy. But I would like to find a way to sketch that doesn’t require too much energy.
Hi Liz, What’s the colour/number of the Faber Castell pencil sitting next to the Sailor Fude pen in the photo of the people sketches? Is it what you used for the people’s skintones?
it’s a light Flesh pencil and more about my skin tone washes here
Pencil 132 is Beige red as of 2019. They did the same for the other (Anglo-Saxon skin) tones. So 130 is Salmon (was dark flesh) and 131 is Coral (was medium flesh).
The reason I speak in the numbers is because Faber-Castell use the same colours across their entire range (pens pencils markers) so the numbers won’t change. The names obviously depend on how old the stock is.
The knowledge base for the company is here (my German wasn’t good enough to find it in their website) for the USA.
So if you find really old second hand supplies (charity shop, tip or garage sale) you now have a current list of the names.
Thank you so much for this info.
Thanks for the inspiration, Liz! I especially love the idea of leaving a sketchbook open for mid-day painting and of using toned paper for continuous line drawings to later be collaged into a sketchbook. So far this year, Foundations is what’s keeping me sketching, and I’m grateful for that! I hope to also incorporate some of your ideas for keeping the momentum going on a more regular basis.
THanks Sue – so great to have you in the group! I certainly notice your name in the livestreams and in the classroom too. Yes. continuous line drawings on toned paper is working great for me at the moment. A=
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