Last year I was feeling the need to get back to drawing and sketching. Photography and photoshopping are both fine, but the creative skills required to get a decent photo aren’t quite as engaging as those required to produce an image on paper from scratch.
Apart from anything else, these days it’s too easy to edit out your mistakes. I wanted to recover the ability to draw with bolder strokes and fewer errors.
To add a bit of challenge, I decided to get back to pen sketches. Once you put pen to paper, that’s it: you’re committed. If you screw up, you can either run with the mistake, or try to hide it.
I bought myself a small, pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook, a Staetdler 0.3 pen, and a Sharpie, figuring that would cover most of my needs (at least initially). I’m finding that I probably need to start drawing on larger sheets – and maybe a better range of pens (studying art at school I used Staedtler 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 pens).
Another way of getting into the drawing groove is by taking part in Inktober, in which you are challenged to produce one ink-based drawing or illustration each day during October, and post it to social media with appropriate hashtags.
This was quite challenging – not because of the pace, but because a lot of the stuff I draw simply isn’t good. The crap stuff had to go up with the stuff I was happy with.
To make things easier, there’s a list of prompt words every year to provide inspiration. I usually managed to link these prompts to something in popular culture I felt like drawing.
Some sketches were more popular than others (such as the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Ahsoka, or the Houses of Parliament after being prompted by the word “broken”). The main thing was to attempt a wide variety of subjects, and see what worked and what didn’t.
So, my sketches are improving, slowly but surely. I still need to work on faces (I place too much emphasis on eyes and not enough on jawlines). I have a comfort zone – buildings, vehicles, landscapes – which I need to step beyond more often.
Having a sketchbook and doing something creative each lunchtime is a great mood-lifter. If nothing else, I can say I’ve created something every day. It’s also good to take on holidays – waiting at the airport, or spending hours on a plane isn’t so bad when you have a pen and paper with you. I’d rate it as being just as good as having a book to read!