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  • Writer's pictureTania Miller

Sketchbook... Why should it be an important part of your creative practice?

I will give you several reasons why I think they are essential to your creative practice. I firmly believe that you will not regret it if you decide to do it or continue in case you already have one. This is part of my own experience, so you can find even more reasons or less for its importance, but I think it's worth reading; it can change your life!


At the end of 2020, I had been trying to learn the watercolor technique and practice it for a year. It was the first year of the pandemic, so that I couldn't be very consistent. I took some online courses where I could start and finish the class project but once working alone, the blank page overwhelmed me; not knowing where to start, I decided to take another course and do the final project. I loved the result of each one, which made me fall in love with the technique in a very short time.


In October of this same year, I heard for the first time the word "Inktober," which came with new information for me. Inktober is a challenge created by Jake Parker in 2009. A challenge to himself to practice and improve his ink illustration skills. The challenge is to create an illustration daily and publish it throughout October with the hashtag #inktober. This practice has been taken up and growing through communities of artists who want to improve and experiment with different techniques, including digital art.


Through this challenge, I first heard about sketchbooks, also known by their English name "Sketchbooks." These notebooks caught my attention. Many artists use them to do their small-scale sketches or illustrations during this challenge. I got more information about them and their different uses, sizes, and qualities. Two years later, it is one of my most important practices, and although I still cannot do it daily as I would like, I have made significant progress in improving my technique and in much more that I want to share with you. I hope it helps and changes your life as much as it changed mine.


List of reasons why they should be part of your creative career:


1. They help you face the blank page. Due to their compact size, they are ideal for losing fear, the fear of not knowing what to do or not doing something worthwhile because you are possibly starting on this path or are afraid of wasting paper. You put the rules, what's more, you don't have to have any if you want it. Also, each page doesn't need a pleasing result for you or anyone else. It is a way to practice and experiment without pressure or high expectations.


2. Experiment with different techniques. Whether you're just starting out or already well into your creative career, sketchbooks are a no-brainer for experimentation. One day you might want to paint with watercolors, and another with markers, gouaches, graphite, or collage. These are some of the techniques you would like to work on. There is no other way to know if you like something or not than experimenting. In your sketchbook, you could discover a new way of capturing your art that you never imagined. A single page could be used to mix or match colors, try a new technique, and draw a graphite or ink sketch. If one day you are surprised by an incredible idea, you could end up making a piece of art, but remember, it is not a requirement. Hey, and if one day you want to use all the techniques in a single illustration or painting, then go ahead! The idea is to enjoy and let yourself go, leading you to discover new possibilities.


3. Find your style. With so much freedom to create without pressure, little by little, you realize that you tend to use certain shades of color or specific shapes or compositions that you tend to repeat. I remember that in the beginning, I loved to imitate other artists and try to copy their way of doing things, such as their technique, colors, or compositions; little by little, my style of painting, combining colors and putting together my compositions emerged and many of the things that I thought I loved to do were losing importance or relevance while other things were appearing. Now I am much more aware of what I like and don't. If you want to read more about how to find your style, I recommend you read the publication of August 6, "Your style. When you don't look for it, it emerges". https://www.taniamillerdesigns.com/es/post/tu-estilo-cuando-no-lo-buscas-emerge


4. Create a habit to keep your skills sharp. It's not that hard to find 15 minutes a day to doodle, paint something, or add a few touches to a painting or illustration you've been working on for a while. Creating a habit keeps your skills in excellent condition. It is not the same to ride a bicycle once or twice a week or a month than once every 5 years. Skills get lost or forgotten a bit if you don't practice them often. Going back to them not only takes time but also effort and concentration.


5. They help the growth of your creativity. Possibly you are like me, with many photos and screenshots on your cell phone of images that inspire you for different reasons, but life is not enough to be able to practice or try everything you want. Sketchbooks are an excellent place to do these quick or small-format exercises. Many times an idea surprises me, but if a day or two goes by and I don't do it, in the end, I forget about it. In my sketchbook, I know that I can do something fast and small, and if I fall in love with the idea, I may want to spend more time doing it on a larger scale and with more detail. This constant search and practice keep your creativity active all the time.


6. Chronological tracking of your growth. I like to see the first images I upload on my Instagram account; it is a way of seeing my growth. Notebooks are too. It's like looking at the drawings that mothers keep of their children from when they were little... hmmmmm, I think I don't have any; I'll have to ask :)


7. Personal source of information. You can flip through your sketchbooks to find a color combination, an effect, an idea, a technique, or a composition, they are a constant source of information. They are easily accessible when you need them as they are compiled as a notebook.


8. Perfect for traveling. Their convenient size and shape make them ideal for traveling and painting during that time. The paper is well protected from wrinkles or folds because they are usually hardcover notebooks; at least those are the ones I recommend if you travel.



NOTE: Sketchbooks are typically small formats ranging from 5.5" x 3.5" to 10.5" x 8.25" in both landscape and portrait formats. You can also make your own according to your taste, either with rings or sewn with a needle and thread; biding them is so much fun. There are also differences in the type of paper for specific or mixed techniques. If you paint in watercolor, I recommend buying them, especially for this technique, since you will use a lot of water and not all papers can stand so much humidity, even those for mixed media. I recommend 200-300g with at least a percentage of cotton.


I leave you two videos where while I paint, I talk to you about my experience with them; come and paint with me!


I hope these reasons inspire you enough to start this habit of having a sketchbook. See your growth and be amazed at everything you are about to discover. Good luck!







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