My NEW Everyday Sketching Project

April 3, 2018 | 53 Comments

Today I am going to share with you my new personal project which has been designed to get me sketching more in the midst of the grind of everyday life.

But first I need to say a huge thank you to everyone who left a comment to my question – Do you struggle to sketch regularly? – either here on the blog or on Instagram. It’s such a great read and I want to come back and discuss some of the main themes later. But today is all about my new project.

My main reason for sketching regularly is to keep a visual journal of my life. Yes, I want to keep my creative juices pumping and improve my sketching skills, but these are secondary.

So the goal is to sketch things which are descriptive of my day-to-day life. However, I find that it’s easy to fall into the thinking that my daily life is boring and uninspiring – particularly in contrast to all the traveling I do. While writing that sentence I’m shaking my head and saying to myself “Seriously, my life is not boring and I live in an amazing city!” But at times I feel totally consumed by admin and the business side of things so that I find it hard to get out ‘urban sketching’.

In the early days of my sketching I found that daily challenges were a great way to get myself sketching – such as the EDM Challenges. But in more recent times I have found them a little too arbitrary, having a preference for something more relevant to my day. I also got tired of simply sketching single objects at home and longed to sketch outdoors. However, when it’s hard to get out on location, sketching objects in the evening is a good way to keep the practice happening.

And so what I have come up with is a list of prompts to get me thinking about the uniqueness or the everyday-ness of each day, and to mix up sketches at home with sketches when I am out and about.

Additionally, because I love a challenge, I have created a schedule at the back of my sketchbook to record which prompts I actually use. There are no rules about when I use each prompt, but this schedule will help me to see which ones I use most and which ones I neglect.

I also don’t have any rules about how finished my sketches are – a simple line drawing like this one is enough to record a scene or event.

So here is the list of the prompts:

  • Where did I go?
  • What can I see?
  • What did I wear?
  • What did I eat/drink?
  • Who did I see/meet?
  • What did I do?
  • What did I use/handle/touch?
  • What did I buy?
  • What’s new?
  • What’s old?
  • What did I throw out?
  • What’s the same as usual? A routine/ repetitive event
  • What’s different from usual? An unique event
  • A random thing
  • A silly thing
  • On this day… a memory

And a few on-going projects

  • Drawing People
  • Drawing cars
  • Drawing trees, plants, flowers
  • Minimal sketching of complex scenes
  • My local area
  • Exploring new art materials

And here is a selection of my sketches from recent weeks.

There is really nothing special about this project, I’m just looking for a way to get myself more committed to sketching my everyday life. And plotting my sketches is a fun way to be more intentional about it!



  • Sue Dunlop says:

    What a great idea! Inspirational as ever. Thanks for sharing and I too love the comments (and challenges) from your previous post.
    mmm sketching with both hands! Something to try on a regular basis and see where it leads.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Sue. Ah! sketching with both hands, thats a great idea and something I would love to do more of!

  • Great set of prompts. I have been sketching the deer that come by most mornings (early) and need to have a set of prompts for when they don’t come or I get up too late.

  • Sheila Pallott says:

    Congrstulations Liz, this is a very creative and useful solution to your desire for change. Looking forward to more eeing pages as time goes by.

    So *thinking* about sketching doesn’t count? ;o)

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Sheila. Hmm, thinking about sketching is important, but sadly not enough to fill sketchbooks!

    • Carol Riddick says:

      I am really having a laugh over your comment and Liz’s reply. I think about sketching ideas all the time. I think putting those ideas into written prompts would really help! Now if I can just transfer those prompts into sketches ….

      • Carol Riddick says:

        I have a sketchbook that is pretty much empty which can be attributed to TOO MUCH THINKING!

  • Evie says:

    Thank you, Liz. You have created a community of sketchers. Sketching is an important part of my daily life and I have the same challenges expressed in many of the comments on your original post. I live in the woods and have done enough sketching of trees. My solution is similar to those posted previously….by myself, in my car, photos. I travel quite frequently which gives me great opportunities to sketch.

  • Kate B. says:

    Thanks for the list of prompts for everyday items. What are you using to make the blue lines that your journaling gets lined up on?

  • Great idea and good prompts!

  • Donni Grant says:

    As a bit of hoarder of sketch books….in that I constantly want to go an buy one……what is your go to sketch book that you can sketch and do watercolours on?

    I baulk at the idea of spending too much on lovely paper because I then feel the pressure of creating ‘only good stuff’ on those lovely pages.

    So mostly I just squirm and continue to daydream about journaling each day like this.

    • Susan Robertson says:

      Hi Donni,
      I had the same issues. I finally quit using sketchbooks, in favour of loose pages. The advantages are that you never have to wait for paint to dry in order to start a new sketch, you can carry just a few lightweight pages at a time, if you make a truly awful sketch you can just chuck it out ( I never do as it turns out) and you can spread them all over your living room floor and be amazed at your productivity. Whee! I sometimes feel like a sketchbook heretic, but in the end who cares?! I bought some nice, acid free boxes to stack the work in. Happy sketching!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Donni – I like using Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbooks as the paper is good enough for watercolour but not too precious.Go to Sketching Tools section- sketchbooks for more info

  • Tina Koyama says:

    Fantastic plan, Liz! You have figured out a way to use prompts that are relevant to your life, but they still serve the purpose of giving you a short cut to the sketch — just like those daily challenges are supposed to do, but yours are not random. Bravo! This is genius!

  • Sharon B says:

    These are great prompts Liz – I was following with interest as I thought you might announce a challenge. I really like the idea of tracking your results on as grid. I often sketch but dont share online what I do so the grid schedule at the back of your book tracking what was actually sketched is just brilliant. I am travelling at the moment so have lots of sketching inspiration and had thought that anything you proposed would not be practical to include in my travel journal but the first two prompts make them ideal. So many challenges suggest actual things. I do enjoy the challenges like the EDM challenge – I dont like the challenges that are just words to interpret such as “exciting” or “love” or some such. But your list is wonderful open enough to be flexible and tackles something solid that relates to a persons life. Just Love it – I am in Paris at the moment so no trouble finding stuff to draw and about to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and will sketch that too I guess I am trying to say your prompts fit the everyday and the not so everyday. Great challenge I will be doing it I just have to remember to share it online

  • Alissa Duke says:

    Brilliant reminder that there is always something to sketch !

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  • Helena Monteiro says:

    Great idea, Liz, I’ll try to do it in May whem I shall be at S. Miguel one of the Azorean Island. Thanks once more for sharing your ideas with us. Hope to see you at Porto on July.

  • Marlene says:

    love your prompts and the way to track them. I decided to create a 7 day challenge to practice subjects that I want to master. For instance, this week I`ll concentrate on sketching building. The next week I`ll do portraits in watercolor. Instead of waiting 30 days to finish a challenge I only wait 7.

  • My absolute favorite is TU20! I have been wondering how artists set up to record themselves! Thanks for the prompt ideas too!

  • Gwyn says:

    Thanks for sharing your prompts list! I definitely struggle with everyday sometimes because I get tied up with the idea that I have to sketch something Important And Meaningful, so a list of ways to draw meaning out of the everyday is very inspiring!

  • Anneli Timmerbacka says:

    Thank you Liz! I have thought exactly the same way. I think that my sketchbook is my diary with pictures and words. I like your thought, that we are sketching our life. That’s why I take courses only now and then, latest was your Watercolour course. That idea of a personal list ( I love listes) is super fine! I must do one for myself with some changes from yours. I have just one probleme I have too many sketchbooks ‘going’. Do you use different books in the same time? I mean different sice and with different paper?

  • Susan Robertson says:

    Hi Liz,
    You put your finger on it exactly! It’s so much easier to be visually inspired while away on a trip. I feel “bored” by my surroundings at home even though, like you, I live in a wonderful place. (Vancouver, Canada) I have a plan to hop on my bike, cruise the streets and urban sketch now that the weather is a bit drier. I also do what I call the “Chops Project” which means I work on my chops, trying to draw the “mundane” things from my everyday life so that I’m ready to hit the ground running when I’m lucky enough to take a trip. The great thing is that, almost by default, I have diary of my everyday life. In the end, I may find that more compelling than the pages from my more “exotic” trips. It’s so ironic that my work happens when I’m preparing for other things! Anyway, thanks for your list. I’m going to incorporate it into my Chops Project.

  • Anne Lyle says:

    I love this idea – and I have a couple of spare pages in the back of my current everyday sketchbook to try out the grid, since there’ll be a week’s gap in May whilst I’m in Italy 😉

  • Teresa Quiring says:

    Thank you for sharing this aspect of your life with us. It is helpful to know that many people struggle with the habit of drawing every single day. Your daily prompt grid journal page is amazing and an inspiration in itself. You have found a way to track your movements in a way that makes sense to you. Drawing is definitely a personal journey and everyone has to find out what it is that will keep them going. Thanks, Liz, for sharing your current challenge. I love seeing what you come up with.?

  • What a helpful idea to have questions, to draw those things. Thank you for inspiration!

  • Brandy Fenenga says:

    I was getting a little tired of coming up with daily sketch prompts, so I started with ABC sketches. Then Pokemon Go! Came out. I do a different Pokemon everyday, in alphabetical order. I’m really surprised how much my drawing skills have improved and I spend more time drawing, versus deciding what to draw. There’s over 800 pokemon, so I should be good for awhile….

  • Adelaide Dunn says:

    Thanks so much Liz, as a new sketcher and unable to get out and about much these days I really needed this right now to get me motivated and try sketching again.

  • Donna Tan says:

    Thanks, Liz, for sahring this new project. I’ve stopped sketching for weeks and was looking for some inspiration when I saw this post in my IG.

  • I absolutely love this idea. Brilliant. Going to bookmark this and also print it off for reference. Thank you so much for sharing this, Liz! 🙂

  • Keshna Donia says:

    Liz I love seeing your sketchbooks! And I’m loving the prompts too. I’ll have to write these down in my sketchbook.

  • Moony says:

    Hello Liz,

    I read your blog regulary and love your posts. This idea is wonderful and I’ll try it for my sketchbook, because sketching regulary is a big problem for me.

    Thank you for sharing your idea!

    Greetings from Germany


  • With the addition of lists and prompts, you are venturing into Omni Journal territory, which, of course! I LOVE! My passion for the last several years…. of course the addition of ephemera like the business cards already makes it qualify for O-Jo status, but this is even better! Great sketching! xo

  • This is a really cool idea. Thanks for the list and prompts. Lately, I got busy with life and rescuing birds since it’s migration period that art is put on the background. But last night I sketched along with you through the Sketchbook Revival workshop and it pumped my creative juices again! Your sketching style is effortless but full of life. I will try more of this technique in my sketches. Thanks so much Liz. You are an inspiration.

  • Mary J Moore says:

    I love this idea of everyday sketching prompts. You inspired me to come up with my own set of questions that would motivate me to sketch more:

    * What was the most meaningful moment of my day?
    * What did I pay most attention to today?
    * What did I not pay attention to that mattered? (what did I miss?)
    * What touched my heart today? (laughter, tears, hurt, anger, etc…)
    * Whom did I notice today?
    * What do I feel grateful for today (unique to today)?
    * What do I want to remember about today?

  • Paola Sartori says:

    Ciao ti ho scoperta per caso, sono la social media di Villa Caldogno, una delle Ville Palladiane che hai disegnato nel tuo Palladio tour. Mi sembrava di aver letto nel tuo blog ma non trovo più il tuo consiglio su che cosa usi per fare le date dell’agenda. Grazie, spero di poter fare presto una tuo corso.

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