Feed Your Creative Soul — with a Sketchbook!

Painting a scenic view in a sketchbook

Keep a sketch­book with you so you’re ready when inspi­ra­tion strikes! This quick paint­ing ses­sion with my daugh­ter was made pos­si­ble by hav­ing sim­ple mate­ri­als close at hand!

Most art teach­ers I know strug­gle to find time for pur­su­ing their own art­work.… so if that’s you, you’re not alone! Sum­mer­time pro­vides a great oppor­tu­nity for teach­ers to do things they oth­er­wise set aside dur­ing the school year. But if we’re try­ing to teach our stu­dents how impor­tant art is, should we really be putting off our own art until sum­mer? (I’m speak­ing to myself here, too!)

You may have to wait for a break in your teach­ing sched­ule to tackle that large paint­ing or sculp­ture, but a sim­ple sketch­book can feed your cre­ative soul all year long. Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so begin a daily sketch­book habit now.… then by the time the new school year starts, you should be well on your way to a healthy sketch­book habit! The secret to suc­cess is to keep your sup­plies sim­ple so they’re always easy to grab and take with you.

To ensure you have a sketch­book at your side when oppor­tu­nity (or inspi­ra­tion) strikes, you’ll prob­a­bly need to have more than one. Keep a sketch­book in the car, and another one (even a very small one!) in your purse, back­pack, or bag. I like Mole­sk­ine Books.… they come in a vari­ety of sizes and paper types. I love their “squared” books (like graph paper) for sketch­ing, design­ing, jour­nal­ing, and mak­ing lists, and their water­color books, which are great for any wet media. Mole­sk­ines always include a handy pocket inside the back cover and an elas­tic band to hold your book closed.

A few sim­ple sketch­ing tools are all you need.  A mechan­i­cal pen­cil with a hefty eraser on the end is essen­tial! For ink, I like water­proof Pigma pens, which come in a vari­ety of widths (and col­ors.… but I mostly use black). When I want to add color, a small Win­sor & New­ton “Cot­man” water­color set is easy to bring along. A Niji “Water­brush” dis­penses water (stored in the han­dle) right through the bris­tles.… a ter­rific aid for trav­el­ing light with your sup­plies! (Click here for a help­ful tuto­r­ial on how to use a water­brush.) And if you want to travel even lighter, you can use water­color pen­cils to cre­ate a “palette of colors“on a sep­a­rate page of your sketch­book, then sim­ply wet them with a damp brush to lift the color for painting.

Need inspi­ra­tion? It’s all around you! Try paint­ing the view off in the dis­tance, or do a close-up con­tour draw­ing of what­ever is right in front of you. And don’t for­get the col­lec­tion of pic­tures on your phone for a con­ve­nient way to prac­tice draw­ing peo­ple, por­traits, and more! If you really want to get inspired with your sketch­book, pick up any book by Danny Gre­gory, like Every­day Mat­ters, An Illus­trated Lifeor An Illus­trated Jour­neyOr check out one of my favorite art jour­nal­ing blogs, Daisy Yel­lowfor art jour­nal­ing prompts, inspi­ra­tion, and tips for adults and kids.

Sketch Books & Paint SetYou may have noticed the sup­plies I’ve talked about here are not your typ­i­cal class­room sup­plies! When you only have to buy one of some­thing (as opposed to a whole class set) and it’s for you (an adult!), why not splurge a lit­tle? If it moti­vates you to draw or paint a lit­tle every day, it’s worth the investment!

“What I do every day mat­ters more than what I do once in a while.”  ~ Daniel Pink

How do YOU feed your cre­ative soul in the sum­mer and through­out the year?



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6 Responses to Feed Your Creative Soul — with a Sketchbook!

  1. Crystal July 24, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    I love this post as one art teacher to another! I have been prep­ping for one like it myself while on vaca­tion just this week­end. I love tak­ing time to paint and rarely find the time to paint myself. Glad I ran across your blog. Great look­ing web­site!
    Crys­tal recently posted..Art Con­tests For Kids – Cur­rent Con­tests July 2013My Profile

    • Cheryl Trowbridge July 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Thanks, Crys­tal! I enjoyed check­ing out your web­site, too! I hope you had a FUN vaca­tion and got in some good paint­ing time!!

  2. Paula August 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    This is a fit­ting end to my time at your site for today. Yes, I must carry that sketch­book EVERY day not just some days. Great for when you’re treat­ing your­self to a cof­fee some­where (alone or oth­er­wise) and just let that right brain go off on its own lit­tle tan­gent for a while.
    All the best, and enjoy your hol­i­day too!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge August 14, 2013 at 12:56 am #

      Yes — even when you only have time for a quick sketch, it’s worth doing!


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