I’ve been painting and photographing for what seems like all my life but the most transformative creative habit I've developed is traveling with a sketchbook.
Back in the '80s when I was getting my degree in Fine Arts, the only use for sketchbooks that I was exposed to was as a work horse for our real artwork, for the artwork with a capital A. I used sketchbooks as a place to better understand my materials, sketch art ideas, or learn techniques by copying the masters.
Over the years I became increasingly intrigued by historical sketchbooks, such as Lewis and Clark’s, or those of naturalists and botanical artists. But it wasn’t until I came across a small book by Danny Gregory entitled Every Day Matters, that I understood the use of sketchbooks as a visual journal of one’s life. In this book Danny Gregory explores his life, the big and the small details of it.
I liked the idea of keeping my own visual journal so I bought a sketchbook, a few pens and a watercolor kit. I carried it with me everywhere, hopeful that I would start to be one of those people who sketches regularly.
It was about a year before I did my first sketch.
I was at a restaurant by myself and as I was waiting for my lunch I considered taking outmy supplies and sketching. I noticed no one was paying attention to me. I sketched the salt and pepper shakers and the chips and salsa on the table. And that’s all it took. I’ve been sketching ever since.
I began to sketch every day moments from my life almost daily. And I began to share my passion about sketching in the watercolor classes and drawing classes I was already teaching. Pretty soon, I started teaching workshops focused on keeping sketchbooks. These are popular classes as people recognize that it is a way to be creative on a regular basis without the pressure of creating “Art.” And that it is a unique way of recording our day to day world.
Sketching everyday moments transforms your relationship with your own life. My kitchen, the waiting room at the doctor's, my sleeping dog, it all becomes beautiful when you slow down to sketch it, or if not beautiful, at the very least, really interesting.
Everything is a discovery when I am drawing it. And I have to be fully present to draw something.
I connect to my life in the moment I am living it.
And that is really the addiction of keeping a sketchbook of our life.