Today I’m excited to bring to you the third installment of my Challenging Perfect mini series that’s been developing over the past few years.
I opened my laptop this afternoon with no idea what to write. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling tired when it comes to my blog. As I’ve made more blogging connections on social media I’ve started to compare myself more to them. I see these incredible posts they write, how inspiring and helpful they are and can’t help but feel mine are a bit rubbish (got to love crippling low self confidence). After staring at a blank page for too long I closed my laptop in a bit of a huff and went to go take my minds off things.
My go to lately has been my sketchbook. I’m currently on my second Sketchbook what is an A4 landscape Art Gecko sketchbook. I did art at GCSE level and whilst I enjoyed it, I wasn’t particularly good in the sense that I was never able to develop my own style so everything I produced was a bit bland and forced. However, I’ve always wanted to draw and set myself the challenge to be able to draw before I got to university. I had an empty sketchbook from my school days and less than 3 month later I had filled it cover to cover.
So this afternoon I picked up my sketchbook, threw on some music and just played around for a bit. I ended up with some practice of creating patterns with my markers, a alrightish drawing of a girl and a cat with a bow tie.
Once done I sat back and just enjoyed flicking through the pages of my work, I even pulled out my first sketchbook and allowed myself to be proud with how far I’ve come with my drawings. Seeing as I’m a creature who struggles to stay on a solid train of thought for more than a few minuets, my mind quickly wondered to the past few months I’ve spent making as I put it ‘bad art’.
I concluded that I’d been feeling a lot more relaxed in myself and was coping a lot better when I made mistakes say at work. Sure I feel bad when I don’t do things perfectly, but I found I was no longer beating myself up for getting things wrong, instead I was taking responsibility for them and using it as a lesson to better myself and not make the mistake again. It took a bit of brain power to chase down why I was feeling this way, I’m no longer seeing a councilor and I’m off all medication, so why the change?
Turns out my sketchbook has a lot to answer for.
When I first picked up a pencil again I felt very lost and fell straight for the sweet promises of advertisements (I took out a two month trail of skill share after I saw an advert pop up on YouTube). I tried a few classes but wasn’t getting much out of them until I came across one talking about developing your sketchbook. They were talking about how people put too much pressure on themselves to create perfect art in their sketchbook and how this restriction and inflexibility will lead most people to creative burn out and them never picking up that sketchbook again. Your sketchbook should be a place for mistakes and learning.
This struck a chord with me.
I really wanted to learn how to draw but had been stopped by the reason above too many times in the past. So I set myself the challenge for my sketchbook to be a place of unapologetic screw ups and boy was it a good idea.
My sketchbook would not be a place for perfect things.
I allowed myself the first page to be organised, that was it. I knew I needed to swatch my new pens that I would be using for the bulk of the book, so I spent some time making this front page so it would be easily for me to reference the colors.
From that page on wards nothing else would be organised or created with the intentions to be perfect.
What that mentality did was help break me out of a long cycle of everything I did needing to be perfect. Eventually as the months went on, the idea that not everything I did had to be perfect started slipping into my day to day life. I started to be ok with things I did not being perfect all the time.
I learned to keep my sketches on the page and not rub them out and included thumb nails (like the lose drawing in the bottom right) next to my finished drawings.
Instead of erasing all my bad attempts and fails I’ve been challenging myself to keep them in. No only does it keep me lose and stop me from trying to turn my whole sketchbook into a work of art, but it helps me progress so much. Being able to look back on older sketches is such a value as I can see at a later date where I went wrong. Take the page bellow as an example. I’ve never been able to draw side profiles of people, I have no idea what it is but I just can’t get the shapes right. So I dedicated a whole page and just practiced. I knew what I could create would look bad, but I just tried.
I made sure I didn’t finish every sketch either, some I left as basic line art and didn’t add colour.
Another good tip was to use BOTH side of the page. I saw an artist I follow on YouTube doing this and it made me wince when I first saw her do it. What if you wanted to use one of the drawings on the page but there was bleed through from inks behind it, what would you do then? After trying it myself however, I found it so freeing. I used those pages with the bleed through as an excuse to try out new things where I knew it might not turn out too well. I took the pressure off myself because it was never going to look good with all the seeped through ink marrying my sketch on the page. So I did what ever!
I drew a silly cat with a bow tie!
I just allowed myself to have fun and do silly things with this new hobbie. If things didn’t turn out well then it was ok, I didn’t have to show anyone it. My mistakes could stay hidden in my skechbook and no one would know they ever happened.
Things don’t have to be perfect in my sketchbook.
If things go wrong then I simply turn over to a new page and that’s the end of it, there’s no consequences or back lash, I just turn over the page. I don’t have to be mature or proper in it (I’m 20 years old and I drew a cat with a bowtie!) I can do what ever I want. I don’t have to show anyone, no one in my house will open it and look when I’m not around as they respect my privacy.
My sketchbook isn’t a perfect place and that’s exactly what I need right now.
Thank you for reading today’s post, let me know if you liked it and if you too find using a sketchbook or making art helpful in relaxing or your mental health. If you enjoy my blog please consider supporting my work by clicking here!