Sketching to Breathe

For me, sketching is more than capturing a realistic or pretty picture or something for others to enjoy and comment. It’s a series of moments where so many things unfold.

I slow down and I really notice the world in front of me – the shadows, bright spots, colours, shapes, rooftops, the arched windows and alongside this I notice my breathing, my posture and the way I am holding my pencil/pen. Whilst sketching I continue to translate the beauty in front of me into lines and observe my thoughts the positive (this will be the best sketch ever) and the criticism (oh man that window is totally not straight!). Even when I am not sketching I continue to be in awe of the small things – I look up more, I notice how the clouds are forming and how the birds play in the skyline. At train stations, I observe how people line up in perspective. In life drawing, I am always taken back by the human form and how amazing we are.

Sketching has created a richness of the moment and grounds me into the present using so many of my senses. As artists (if I can call myself one), we become so tied up in the end result that we forget why we create which for me is all about the process. So the question is despite how much joy sketching brings to me, why do I struggle to draw everyday? I’ve realised it’s because I have placed so many limitations on myself. I must only paint outside, never from photos or it has to be in black ink using a specific pen, the list is endless. To help me maintain a daily creative practice, I’ve decided to follow some simple guidelines:

1) Don’t erase (even if I use pencil!)

2) No limitations – use any pens, paints, sketch outside or from photos as long as I am sketching the source doesn’t matter.

3) Acceptance – be happy with the end result and not critical, reminding myself that it is about the process not a pretty picture.

4) Share – sketching with friends or sharing on social media, it’s great for my work to be out there and not just in my sketchbook.

I have really taken to life drawing and this month I joined a local London life drawing. I tried to commit to inktober but unfortunately didn’t get past day 1! I am hoping my guidelines will help me to spend more time sketching this month!

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