June TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge

After taking a short break from the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, I’m ready to try another round in the month of June.

Are you with me?

TinkerSketch Drawing Challenge

After the last Sketchbook Challenge, I received so much encouraging feedback.

Here’s a sampling of what people like you had to say about their experience:

  • I can’t thank you enough for the challenge. I quit my job as a designer to be a SAHM and even when I love it, I realized I needed to have a project for myself, something that the kids could see me working on, and this has been a perfect “excuse” to set some time aside for myself to do that. I like doing it alongside my oldest, sometimes he is painting with me, sometimes h is just playing – but he sees me being creative, and I fell it’s very important. Thanks again!
  • I’ve really enjoyed the discipline of finding time everyday for bits of creative time. Some of the hardest prompts have been the most interesting. Quite often I’ve started the day with one thought and by the end of the day I’ve arrived at something quite different. It has made me much more observant too.
  • My favorite part was connecting with people around the world and trying to think of creative ways to execute the prompt of the day. Thank you!!!
  • My favorite thing is connecting with others. My second favorite was thinking about each prompt every day. I like to turn ideas around in my mind. Also, I have added drawing prompts for my upper level high school art students as a result of this – with good success. Thank you.
  • Thank you Rachelle. I certainly sketched and painted more than usual thanks to your great prompts.
  • Loved the challenges for ideas to stretch my mind and try new things. I can no longer say, “I can’t draw” because now I know I can! Thanks for encouraging a safe place for a non-artist to get artistic. I also loved the idea that it was just supposed to be a quick project each day. That really took the pressure off.

And this makes me feel great!

I firmly believe that we all have creative ideas inside of us, and that drawing skills are not a requisite for creativity. Challenges such as TinkerSketch celebrate processes of creativity and a spirit of trying new things.

It’s not the product, but the process that’s important.

Here’s an example of my interpretation of the one-minute drawing prompt from the very first TinkerSketch Challenge. I set the timer for one minute, and created one drawing – this set of nine drawings took nine minutes.

For more on how to do this, you can see my post about it here. Fun bonus, day 19 of the upcoming June challenge poses a similar prompt and you can give this a try.


One minute drawing on TinkerLab

So here we go… Let’s tackle June gloom (that’s a weather phenomena in Southern California) with our brushes, pencils, and notebooks.

Are you in?

June 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge for drawing experimnets. Join Anytime!  This is such a fun drawing challenge. All welcome.

Share it!

If you know anyone who might like to join, feel free to screen shot any of these images, pin it, tweet it, and pass it along.

Print it!

For anyone who wants to print this in Black and White, here’s a list for your convenience:

instagram tinkersketch challenge june 2015


Get the Sketchbook Challenge FAQ’s

Next, you’ll want all the details. Read here for more.

Sketchbook Drawing Technique | White Pen on Painter's Tape

Won’t You Join Me on Instagram?

If you’re new to the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.

If you’re not on Instagram, but like to call Facebook home, join our closed Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, where you can also play.

If you want to jump-start your creativity and start your art journal practice, join us for the FREE TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge in February 2015 at TinkerLab.com

March TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge

Sketchbook Challenge from TinkerLab.com

After an awesome month of the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram and Facebook, we’re ready to try another round in the month of March.

Over the past month I have received many notes of appreciation that shared how this challenge:

  • Was personally transformative
  • Brought families together
  • Added a meaningful shared art experience in a science-based high school
  • Created an opportunity for child-parent bonding
  • Created a ritual of making that was easy to achieve
  • Created accountability for making
  • Brought creative and supportive people together who enjoyed sharing art together

And this makes me feel great! I firmly believe that we all have creative ideas inside of us, and that drawing skills are not a requisite for creativity. Challenges such as TinkerSketch celebrate processes of creativity and a spirit of trying new things. It’s not the product, but the process that’s important.

So here we go…March madness in the form of a new sketchbook challenge.

March Sketchbook Challenge

Sketchbook challenge from TinkerLab.com

If you’re new to the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.

If you’re not on Instagram, but like to call Facebook home, join our closed Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, where you can also play.

Sketchbook Challenge from TinkerLab.com

Sketchbook Challenge FAQ’s

Next, you’ll want all the details. Read here for more.


Simple Sketchbook Prompt to Kick off the Day

Today I have a fun and simple sketchbook prompt for you. This one is for all of my tinkersketch friends, new and old.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I’ve been trying to make a habit of getting up before the kids so that I can have a little time to breathe before the day begins. A few weeks ago I picked up these new Canson Mixed Media journals (Amazon affiliate link), found on sale at Michael’s,and I was eager to give them a try.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I started with made a random assortment of circles on my paper by tracing the inside of a tape roll. So easy, right? I was inspired by this zentangle post from Tiny Rotten Peanuts. Her photos are gorgeous — go ahead and check it out.

I used my favorite Micron pen for the task. If you like drawing with pen, Microns are the BEST. They’re waterproof, so after all of that drawing you can paint right over them without any fear of smearing the ink. I just noticed that Microns are on sale at Amazon right now (affiliate link) for about $1.50 — such a good deal!

Circles and Watercolor Paint | A Simple Sketchbook Prompt | TinkerLab

After drawing all those circles, I set out to fill them with patterns and paint. I decided to limit my palette to purple and red just to keep it clean and simple. After working on this for a while, I cleared the table and set up an invitation to paint for my family.

Circles and Watercolor Paint | A Simple Sketchbook Prompt | TinkerLab

The sketchbook invitation set-up

  • Sketchbooks
  • Assorted paintbrushes
  • Watercolor Set. We love this set by Prang (affiliate link)
  • Bowl of Water
  • Micron Pen
  • Rag to absorb water

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

When my kids sat down to it, I started another page. This one was much more loose and fun for me. I used the blank paint from the watercolor set and a super-thin brush from this crazy-cheap set to make those thin inky lines.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

My husband and 3-year old got in on the action, and added a few more supplies.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I love how my little one interpreted this prompt.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

And then, even better, how she painted whatever she wanted. The whole point of this, after all, is to get some marks on paper.

p.s. The new sketchbooks journals are fantastic! The size of ours (7″ x 10″) was just right: big enough to work freely, but small enough that it’s not an overwhelming amount of space to fill. They absorb water beautifully without curling too much, and they have perforated edges so you can cleanly remove anything worth hanging or sharing with a friend.

More Sketchbook Prompt Ideas

The TinkerSketch Challenge

Instagram sketchbook prompts

Why I carry a Sketchbook

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Ideas

Draw Into Wet Paint

Crushed Flowers in the Sketchbook


TinkerSketch Instagram Sketchbook Challenge

It turns out that April will be a month of creative challenges here on TinkerLab! First up, we have the Creative Challenge for Kids, and secondly I’m excited to introduce our first Instagram challenge for all of us sketchbook fans: the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge. TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram

We first introduced the TinkerSketch Project a couple years ago, and without too much fanfare I’m happy to say that over 700 images have been tagged with #tinkersketch on Instagram. What’s a TinkerSketch? Click over here for more on that.

What’s the goal of the Sketchbook Challenge?

If you’re like me, you probably lead a busy life. You might have had some time to nurture your creative soul at some point in your not-too-distant past, but with kids/work/chores/responsibilities/name your excuse, you don’t have a lot of time for the creative YOU. The goal of this challenge is to make time (even if it’s just a tiny bit) to celebrate your creative self through hands-on making. If you join this sketchbook challenge, you’ll:

  • Improve your skills
  • Try and explore new ways of art-making
  • Land on new ideas that wouldn’t have emerged otherwise
  • Have fun
  • Model creative thinking for your child (if you’re a parent or teacher)
  • Celebrate the imperfection of your ideas
  • Think creatively
  • Give yourself the gift of time

How long will it take?

If you accept this challenge, you will set aside just five minutes each day aside for making, creating, and experimenting with your ideas. If you have extra time, you could always dive in for longer, but your minimum commitment is five minutes each day.

Great, but 5 minutes is still a lot!

There are so many ways to do this. For example, you could:

  • Wake up a little earlier than usual, brew a pot of something warm, and curl up with your sketchbook for a few minutes before the rest of your home wakes up
  • Carry a sketchbook in your bag and pull it out when you’re waiting in line
  • Designate “creative time” where you and your child draw in sketchbooks side-by-side

But my stuff is sure to suck.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

It might, or it might not. The point here isn’t to create a masterpiece but to unleash your creative energy. Your creations don’t have to be works of amazing art, and in fact they probably shouldn’t be all that spectacular, especially if you’re pushing yourself to try something new, experiment, and be bold. Be confident with whatever you create, knowing that you’re on a journey to feed your creativity.

What Sketchbook and Tools do you Recommend?

Our best advice is to visit an art store and test out sketchbooks to see which one feels right to you. That said, here are a few tips:

  • Size: Find a size that fits your situation. If you think you’ll take your sketchbook on the road, find something small enough to travel in your bag
  • Paper: Choose paper that is heavy weight and designed to withstand water and wet media. Look for the weight of paper in terms of how many pounds it is: the higher the number, the heavier the weight. Something over 70 lbs. should do the trick
  • Spiral or book-bound: Do you think you’d enjoy a spiral-bound book or traditional binding more? We recommend spiral binding because the pages lie flat easily. Some people like traditional binding more because they can design/paint/draw a double-page spread without having a gap between the pages.
  • Strathmore: One of my very favorite sketchbooks is the Visual Art Journal for Mixed Media by Strathmore. The pages weight is 90 lb. and you can get this book in a number of sizes. My personal favorite for on-the-go is 5.5″ x 8″. If you like to work big, they have one that’s 9″ x 12″.
  • Stillman & Birn: A friend just gave me a Stillman & Birn Zeta series and I love it. The paper is 180 lb.
  • Pens: Get yourself a few pens that you love to use, and be sure to have at least one waterproof, archival pen in the mix so that you can paint over your pen lines without worrying about your drawing bleeding with water. Micron Pens are a designer favorite, and they come in tons of sizes and colors. This all-black set includes a few different pen sizes and this brush-tip set includes six different colors. Sharpies are another wonderful choice with so many options to choose from.

Will there be any support?

For each day of the challenge we’ll share our own daily entry on Instagram and Facebook, along with a few extra ideas in case you need a little bit of inspiration. We encourage everyone who joins the challenge to leave supportive comments on other participants’ images. Since it can be hard to put ourselves out there, it’s always nice to receive a friendly pat on the back when pushed outside our comfort zone.

I’m in! How do I do this?

  1. Print out or bookmark the list you see at the top of this page. Each day has a new prompt that will inspire you to make something.
  2. Interpret the Prompt: You can interpret the daily prompts however you want. “Drips” to one person may mean flicking watercolors off a toothbrush and to another person it might mean covering a page in marker and then leaving the page outside on a drizzly morning. You can take them literally or not — this is completely up to you. If you’re really at a loss, leave a comment below and we’ll help you noodle through it.
  3. Make stuff: You could put all your ideas into a sketchbook (it is called a sketchbook challenge, after all), loose leaf paper, post-it notes, or something else.
  4. Share it! This challenge can be a totally private affair and you never have to let a soul know that you’re working on it, or you could share your creations with others. I’m a private person, but I find that sharing things like this actually motivates me to work harder. If you’re up for it, we invite you to share your daily sketches on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Basically, wherever you like to drop your social media mat. Simply tag your image or post with #tinkersketch, and you could also ping us at @tinkerlab to let other people know about the challenge
  5. Tell others. If you could use some back-up, share the Sketchbook Challenge calendar image from this post on Instagram or with a friend, and encourage others to join you on this fun, creative journey.
  6. Support others. Take a moment to cruise around and look at other images that are tagged with #tinkersketch, and leave a supportive comment to build community and basically make someone else feel great about the effort they’re putting into their creative journey.

Anything else?

If you have any questions about the prompts or other parts of this challenge, drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them. Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for supporting TinkerLab with your purchases.

Less is More: A Child-Adult Art Collaboration

painting on sketchbook

I was on Instagram the other day and shared a sketchbook collaboration that my five-year old and I were working on. My friends Ness from One Perfect Day, Kate from An Everyday Story, and Shana from Ain’t no Mom Jeans asked me to share more about how we collaborate. They asked:

Who suggests the ideas, colors, etc.?

How do you encourage/add input etc. without taking the lead?

I’ll try to answer these questions through the photos that emerged from our latest collaboration:

Who suggests the ideas, colors, etc?

For this particular spread, I sat across the table from my daughter and we chatted while we worked on independent projects. She had a collage project going, so I pulled out my sketchbook and started to experiment with her materials.

We had small piles of colorful paper on the table and I thought I would try to layer them.

How to set up a Child + Adult Art Collaboration

At this point she continued to work on her own project.

But I have tot tell you something: I knew that it was just a matter of time before she would join me.

She almost always does. Making art with her is a lot like having a conversation. We might start out our conversation talking about two entirely different things, but as we get more comfortable chatting we get in sync with one another.

Our sketchbook sessions are a lot like that. We’ll start of doing our own thing, and then she’ll inevitably see a way to make my design better, and will ask to join in.

I always welcome these moments.

Back to the question (Who suggests the ideas, colors, etc.?), I’m flexible on this point. I’ll often initiate the collaboration and will select the materials or colors that we begin with, but I’m open to my child’s contributions. In the sketchbook image that prompted this post, I chose the red and pink, while my daughter suggested black and white.

My tip to you: Accept all offers from your child. Consider this a grand experiment and don’t worry one bit about the final product. Who cares if your child wants to cover the whole page with black paint. That would be an experiment worth pursuing. Just consider Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled (Glossy Black Painting) or Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral. How else would these world-renowned artists have figured out the power of black paint without first testing its limits?

sketchbook pattern with paper

How do you encourage/add input etc. without taking the lead?

I got this far with my design, and then I started to add squiggles around the paper with a black Sharpie maker. N gave me some feedback, but didn’t ask to join in.

Then I got an idea to add some paint, and I had a feeling this would catch her eye.


We each took a brush and got busy adding dots and lines.

Because these collaborations usually take place on art that I initiate, my daughter is absolutely fine with my contributions and she doesn’t feel like marks that I make violate her work. Back to the conversation analogy, these work sessions are like back-and-forth chats. I’ll add something, and then she’ll add something. And we often really do talk as we work, sharing ideas before we commit anything to the paper.

Less is More

I love the last moment of our session, and it’s a great lesson for anyone who’s still reading. At one point she put her brush and down and told me the painting was done. I wasn’t so sure and kept on going. She took her seat across the table from me and gently said, “remember Mom, less is more.”

painting on sketchbook 2

She was right. You have to know when to stop. And I put my brush down too.