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!

      • Delany September 11, 2013 at 11:52 am #

        I agree


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