Have you doodled lately? Well you should and regularly at that. I saw a Stefan Bauman video (below) a few months ago and it struck a cord. Like most people, I think a sketchbook is just a sketchbook, right? Something you draw in and use to try to improve through practice or just draw anything that strikes your fancy. Simple. Or is it? Actually, there is a lot of negative psychology associated with regular sketching in a sketchbook. What do I draw? How often should I draw? My sketches look terrible. Shouldn’t my book be a gallery of my best drawing work? blah, blah, blah. Welcome to the doodle sketchbook.
I’m convinced that all artists should have a sketchbook that they set aside for inconsequential doodling. Let me ‘splain. What happens when you doodle? You’re usually doing something else like talking on the phone or listening to boring conversation right? You don’t think much about what you’re doodling, you just draw. What happens when you’re done? The envelope, back of the napkin or edge of your note taking eventually goes in the dumper. Who cares? Enter the doodle sketchbook. Have at your disposal at least one sketchbook designated for “who cares” doodling. Not a really nice or expensive book just any old cheap drawing pad. The drawings can still be purposeful or directed towards specific subjects or practice like any regular sketchbook, the difference is, its more like a scratchpad you keep around but assign no artistic value. You aren’t trying to create great art and you don’t care about the results. This is KEY. In fact, If you’re intimidated by sharing your work, you should probably just tell yourself in advance that this book won’t be shown to anybody. That frees you from the hesitation of getting started or the angst of having your work judged. Bottom line? Your drawing will improve day by day because you’re more likely to draw. No kidding. Keep the book in tact and when you reach the last page you might be amazed at how far you’ve come.
Staring at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what to paint is familiar and frustrating to any artist. So what’s artist’s block really all about?
For starters, I believe there are two types of artist’s block. There is what I’ll call “true” artist’s block, which I believe to be pretty rare, and the second more common version, which is simply “indecisiveness.”
Which One Are You?
True artist’s block could be defined as creative exhaustion. To be in this rare category, you’re probably a professional or practicing, prolific artist who has painted, drawn or designed their keister off and, for what ever reason, has reached a point of being out of creative gas. Read More »
If you saw the video in this post, my remarks beg a simple question – “Did I fail?” Well, for me the answer is yes and no. Many who commented on YouTube were gracious and said they thought the building sketch turned out great. And while I appreciate that, there is a deeper teaching moment here. If you’ve watched my other videos, you’ve heard me say it before. “Embrace failure as a teacher.”
Was the Sketch Good?
This is a different question than, “Did I fail?” Ask 10 people differing in skill from master to beginner and you’ll get 10 different answers. Its really far from the point of failure or success. So… what am I saying? What is my teaching moment? I thought you’d never ask.
Set Goals and Reach High
When you’re learning (and that includes 100% of us), study other artist’s work. Reach for ambitious standards. As you do, you will quite often say with me, “this was a failure”. Get comfortable with it. You’ll say this a lot if you’re learning. And others may never understand what failed. So be it.
Set Failure on it’s Ear
Once you’ve come to terms with the failures, its time to redefine your work. This takes some analysis. As a beginner, you may not even know how to fix what you’d like to fix. Keep learning everything – technique, color sense, media control, process. Bit by bit you’ll understand what you can do differently. Redefine your “fail” in instructive terms just as I did near the end of this video. It was an awesome day, with awesome weather, and an awesome subject. The bonus? I learned something and I’ll always remember what it was when I look at that sketch. I tried a process that did not work well for me. Next time I’ll try again only differently.
Will I fail again? I’m counting on it!