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8 Sketchbook Tips for Artists Who are Not Rembrandt

A sketchbook is a mini universe of creative expression, capturing your unique way of seeing the world. 

Consider these eight tips to maximize your drawing enjoyment. 

KEEP IT PRIVATE.

You don’t need to show anyone what you produce. Keeping your quick sketches and crazy images to yourself sets your  creativity free. You don’t have to please anyone. Like taking a private retreat to a deserted island, time spent in drawing is the ultimate escape. 


SILENCE YOUR INNER CRITIC. 

Remember that there is always someone better than yourself. You are not Rembrandt. Let your art be true to yourself and sketch away. Pretend that you are an emerging outsider artist. You just might make something really good. Wait to evaluate your art when you are done.


 artist @artbyjroiz

MESS UP PAGES.

Resist the idea the art must be pristine and proper. To avoid the paralysis of staring at perfect blank pages of a new sketchbook, start by creating a rough undercoat. Mess up some of the pages with pencil scratches, smudges of graphite shavings or ink or watercolor washes. If the book has a lived in look before you begin you won’t be afraid of making mistakes.




START IN THE BACK

Instead of dutifully beginning on the first page, randomly open the book and begin in the back. Then move backward or forward to break up your natural inclination to follow a sequence. Your sketchbook will look fuller and be much happier with you as you proceed.




BALL POINT PEN WITH WATERCOLOR. 

Grab a simple ball point pen and sketch the shapes and values that you see. Then add quick swaths of watercolor. Green for trees, tan for earth and blue for sky. The added bits of color will make your sketch come alive.



SKETCH SHAPES AND VALUES. 

Don’t worry about making a recognizable image, just copy the outlines or contours of figures and subjects before you. Let your right brain spontaneously take over.  Look for what is darkest in the scene such as a shadow. Add variety of darks and lights.



SKETCH WITH A FRIEND. 

When on an outing have your friend sketch the same scenes, then compare your work at the end. Tandem sketching is a great dating activity. My wife and I often sketch together when on vacation. It forces you to observe details you will otherwise miss.



LET THE WORLD SEE. 

While keeping your sketchbook private is a relief, you might do the opposite and take iPhone photos of your best sketches and post them on social media. Your friends will love seeing a bit of your sketchbook universe.