I started writing this blog about the benefits of daily sketchbook routine - how it can bring you emotional release and happiness. All the while, I have been avoiding my own sketchbook. I decided this blog post was the nudge I needed, even though I was feeling the resistance to pick up my sketchbook routine again. Some days you just don’t feel like it and self doubt rises. What if my drawings come out bad? What if I don’t like what I make? Ugh I don’t have time. Sometimes we feel resistance to daily practice, and that’s okay. It is completely normal! It’s much easier to hold space for yourself and get drawing (even if there are roadblocks in the way) by setting up an achievable daily routine.
The past week, my achievable sketchbook goal has been to practice hand lettering. One phrase per day. That’s it, sweet and simple. No expectations on what they turn out like. Your sketchbook goals should be encouraging, achievable, and process focused.
These are some of the ways I’ve been helping myself get back into my sketchbook routine, and setting expectations.
- Tagging sketching onto an activity that is part of your daily routine. Using something you already do in your day as a cue to sketch is a reminder to get started and doesn’t feel like an extra task. For myself, sketching is something I do after dinner. It can be added onto anything - from brushing your teeth to walking the dog.
- Spend ten minutes. We can all make ten minutes to hold space for ourselves. If you spend more than ten minutes- amazing! If not, that is okay too. Keeping your expectations achievable is important. We are aiming for consistency, not perfection.
- It doesn’t have to be “good”. This sketchbook time is a way to step away from your screens and interact with your inner child (more on that later). The expectation is to show up for yourself, rather than have focus on the end result.
Sketchbook time is taking yourself on a cozy date. It’s an opportunity to spend time with yourself, experiment with new materials, and let go of final outcomes. A pressure-free zone of no strict deadlines or expected outcomes. It can take practice to get into this mindset, but just keep showing up. Introducing time with a sketchbook is a form of freedom.
Being In The Moment
A lot of our stress is rooted in thinking about the past or worrying about what the future holds. To shift into a new mindset can help us feel more connected and present in our bodies. The physical action of drawing can bring you back to your body. By doing this, you are taking time to get to know yourself.
Showing up for yourself can take form of setting aside 10 minutes of sketchbook time. It is a gentle nudge to get back into your body and take a break from the day. Picking up your favourite tools and being there for yourself on days you don’t want to show up is important. This practice creates resilience to work though other areas of your life that are challenging.
How Does Art Help With Mental Health?
The main goal is to do a simple activity such as colouring, drawing or painting to reduce levels of stress. It can help bring your mind into focus and act as a positive outlet to process your emotions. Taking time in your sketchbook can become similar to a meditative practice, especially when you are immersed in the experience.
Studies have shown that creating artwork enables people to reconnect with the world. It has been proven to help with depression and anxiety while improving memory, reasoning and resilience. While making art, your self-expression can help you work through conflicting emotions.
An Opportunity to Connect With Your Inner Child
The focus of making time for your sketchbook is to be focused on the process and less fixated on the outcome of the what you’re making. It’s helpful to think back to when you were a child. At that point of our lives, we were less concerned about the aesthetic of what you were making. Connecting with your inner child to bring more of a carefree and fun-focused attitude to your practice will help bring you back into balance.
A Variety of Ways to Use Your Sketchbook
Your sketchbook doesn’t need to be a place where you are only focused on drawing. There are several ways to take up the space in your sketchbook. Here are some of my favourite ways to use them:
- Collage: I love to tape in my receipts, photos or magazine cut outs.
- Play with materials: Using pencils is a great starting point. Be bold, experiment. This is your place of fun. Glitter, markers, paint - they’re all on the table!
- Write in it! Pages without lines provide freedom with what you fill the space with. Write about your day, travels, or what you are grateful for.
Sketchbook prompts can be used as tools to encourage ideas, feelings and new perspectives. They can be a starting point for your sketchbook practice.
- Cut out images from newspapers and magazines to create a cohesive scene.
- Draw the same thing three times using full colour, black and white, and monochromatic.
- Try a continuous line drawing - keep your pencil on the paper the entire time you are drawing.
- Draw out your name in a style you like - stay simple or make it elegant!
- Favourite book: draw the book itself or one of your favourite scenes.
- A place you love to visit.
- Invite a friend over to paint or draw together.
- Go for a walk and take ten photographs of anything outdoors. Then, choose one of your photos to illustrate, or get the photos printed and make a collage!
- Create something inspired by your favourite song.
- Illustrate an object in detail
A Spark of Inspiration
I hope that this gives you some encouragement to spend time in your sketchbook and hold space for yourself. If you’re looking for some materials to help you get started, have a look at our stationery tools! I love that all of our notebooks and sketchbooks are small enough to carry on the go, with thick pages and durable covers. Remember: the journey is not perfect, but just keep showing up!