Sketching beyond the "Challenge"

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  Kurt Vonnegut

During my 30 day Sketchbook Challenge I joked about taking my sketchbook into the wild. For the challenge I was confined to my desk as I was filming each sketch (you can find all the videos here). Naturally this made me crave being free of the desk and taking my sketchbook into the garden, onto my lap and out into the world. These things are easier said than done.

The practice of the "challenge" offers a framework of discipline which is not a natural state for me. My creative practice usually looks more free form, following the whims of the muses, working in a variety of mediums, on a variety of projects at anyone time, and allowing myself to be pulled down the rabbit hole when a project dances a frenzy and demands my full attention. Sometimes my creative practice feels like a wild horse ride blind folded. Really I have no idea where I'll end up.

The discipline of a "challenge" allows me to hone a skill in a way that my normal practice doesn't. It builds muscles and techniques in a particular domain which sustains that practice somewhat beyond the challenge.

So how do I keep the practice going beyond the "challenge" when my art journal is calling, and my acrylic paints, my tarot journal and knitting, sculpting and a new medium or two, not to  mention the yoga mat, bush walks, friends, travel, life- all of it?

For me it looks like allowing a spread to take a week if it takes a week, allowing a little bit when I can, or a lot when I can, it  looks like ease and permission. It also looks like leaving my water colours and sketching materials spread out on the kitchen table just in case (while my art journal is spread out on my work table and a pile of books plays jenga at my bedside and so on- I'm sure it requires much patience from my beloved to live with a multi-passionate, multi medium artist). Some days I start a sketch and I may not lay paint down for a few more days, or, as in the image at the top here, I paint/sketch a little vignette in one corner and build the page out over the course of the week.

There are no rules, the practice requires only one thing- practice. That is showing up and doing "the work" and I do the work for the joy of it when and how I can. Sure I love the idea of working in my sketchbook daily, of growing my skill and style in that way, but since I also like the idea of working in my art journal daily, painting daily and hitting the mat daily and all the other things; until I learn to bend and stretch time I will continue to allow a whole lot of ease and permission around my practice being just what it is- a practice. Practice is the process itself. Life is a practice.

How do you manage your creative practice in all its fullness into your life with all its fullness?

Treated myself to a new pen and I am absolutely loving it. The Joy pen from Lamy- as a calligraphy pen it is beautiful for sketching because of the variety in line it creates from the thin to the wide.

The Sketchbook Challenge really highlighted the inability of the journal I was using to take water colour so I am testing new journals and loving this one.
Here is the obligatory first page testing the paper by painting my palette.

Join me for In the Garden, its part of my practice. We begin on 2nd of October. You can find details here


  1. You have succinctly stated what my mind has been going through over the past moth, as I want to get back into sketching in a journal, even started to, then my art journal, Christmas Cards, Christmas assemblages, etc etc (not to mention work!) called to me as well. How do I do this all at once? Do I let anything go? I understand the need to practice practice practice, I like your idea of leaving everything out on the kitchen table so that I can pop into at at any time, maybe work on it while something is cooking, even for just a few minutes. I love your butterfly page, just beautiful, an example of doing a group of sketches, working just a little while on each one. Thank you for your inspiration! If you can do it, so can I!


Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please leave a comment, I am always so delighted to see them.

Popular Posts