Jul 272014

Scott with five years of sketchbooks
With a few years of sketchbooks

I often talk about the importance of drawing in the creative process, but I don’t think people really understand….

When I say keep a sketchbook, I mean keep a sketchbook and USE it. The biggest hurdles for people seem to be a lurking fear of failure and some ominous quality standard they feel they have to meet. First, if you make a commitment to yourself that NOBODY gets to see inside your sketchbooks then the fear of failure will quickly lessen. Next, regarding quality, force yourself not to worry (remember… nobody gets to see). Then just draw, scribble, color, copy, think, or doodle in it for a little bit every day.

I try to sit down and sketch for about twenty minutes over my morning coffee, every day. Some days I may do more, some days less – but I consistently aim to do something. Whatever you draw it doesn’t really matter – the habit is the most powerful thing. These small daily efforts build and build, like compound interest, and before you know it you have a pile of sketchbooks to look through, and if you do look back through them you will likely notice improvement!

This is about five years worth of sketchbooks that I have sitting around the studio. You will never get to see inside most of these, but I am comfortable with that. These were for MY exploration, study, practice, ideas, and notes. There are a few really good drawings in there, but also many terrible one (just this morning I drew an absolute howler, I couldn’t believe how bad it was). I think that if you are not making terrible drawings, you’re probably not challenging yourself to get better in areas that you are weak in. Not to tease or disappoint anyone who has read this far, here is an example of an above-average page from one of my sketchbooks:

click for larger

Depending on what is on my mind, various flights of fancy take over during a typical drawing session. Often I have no predetermined expectations and I just draw to draw, though sometimes I am more intentional and draw to study anatomy, figures, or whatever. What comes out is unpredictable – sometimes it is poor, often decent, but occasionally (very occasionally), a great drawing or idea comes out. But if you don’t make all the bad drawings, you will never get to these few great ones.

I will try to share more, but hopefully you’ll understand if I don’t.