Carrying on with the sea-life theme, I filled a sketchbook page with simple drawings of stylised, whimsical starfish, sea urchins and mussel shells. I recorded my process as a tutorial video, showing and explaining my step by step process of drawing. I start with simple shapes and gradually add more and more complexity.
There is something very intriguing and curiosity-provoking about exploring variations based on the same simple shapes and steps. The possibilities are endless and it certainly gives creativity a bit of a workout!
These kinds of exercises are what sketchbooks are perfect for. A sketchbook is a safe place to experiment and explore, and the end result is a valuable resource of ideas as well as a visual record of your development of artistic skills. They’re a place to practice fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and for trying out new media or techniques.
Sketchbooks chart the development of our skills, our pattern and motif preferences, and show how we develop and evolve our artistic style.
This revelation about sketchbooks is exciting to me. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to work this out. I think the Inktober Tangle Pattern Challenge back in 2021, the Fragments of Your Imagination Challenge earlier this year (both challenges hosted by the 7F5R Challenge Facebook group) as well as the Lettering Sketchbook course on Domestika have definitely been significant activities that have helped me reach this realisation.
The other major realisation I’m having at this time is that I think I’ve finally found what kind of YouTube content I like to make!
I was a science teacher for 28 years. Teaching is part of who I am. My focus as a teacher was always to inspire and encourage my students, to help them to believe they could do science, and to have better self-esteem and self-confidence. I loved to see them grow and develop and gain skills and knowledge they never thought they could, and that was a wonderful thing to be a part of.
If I can do the same thing for others, who have no confidence in drawing. If I can use my love of whimsical and stylised art/motifs, the function of a sketchbook to encourage others to take up pen and paper and draw, then that is a good thing!
I also think it’s important that I show my process, warts and all. Variations that are lovely, and others that are not so. It’s all part of the process of developing as an artist. I think my work with traditional coloured media is a testament to my ability to make a total mess of a fairly nice drawing! I am better with digital colours, but not much!
It all takes time to work these things out, and I can be really dense and stubborn at times! But I do get there … eventually. ‘There’ being a point of understanding myself and accepting something or a sudden revelation, you know the kinds of things. But ‘there’ isn’t the final destination. The journey of exploration and development never ends, and a sketchbook is now, for me, a vital companion going forward.