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!)
Why you need a sketchbook…
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.
Add some tools to go with your sketchbook…
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 water brush.) 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.
And a little inspiration!
Need some 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 Life, Art Before Breakfast, or How to Draw Without Talent. Or check out an art journaling blog like Daisy Yellow, for art journaling prompts, inspiration, and tips for adults and kids.
You 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 (or another 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?