TinkerSketch Instagram Sketchbook Challenge

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram

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.

Tinkersketch Challenge: Draw Into Wet Paint

glue pages together

Tinkersketch Challenge: Draw into wet paintIt’s been a while since I’ve posted a Tinkersketch challenge on our blog, and since we’ve been getting some great tinkersketch feedback on Instagram I thought I’d share a favorite low-stress way to get some paint and marks on paper.

I’m all about low-threshold art-making, and don’t want anyone to walk away because they’re overwhelmed, so I’ll always try to offer easy ways to get your hand moving. If things get a bit more challenging I’ll offer alternative ideas to keep things simple. I realize that you don’t have a lot of time, but you want to create, and I’ve got your schedule in my mind. I’m busy too, so this also works for me.

If you’re not familiar with the Tinkersketch Challenge, you can read about how it started and what you can expect over here. In a nutshell, I’m a huge proponent of making something every day, and this challenge will get you started on an easy sketchbook journey. All it takes is about 10 minutes a day, but of course once you get started it can be hard to walk away after just 10 minutes!

Draw Into Wet Paint

sketchbook gesso drawing

This is what we’ll be doing today: Draw directly into wet paint. My three-year old and I had a lot of fun working on this page together.

Find a sketchbook

If you have a sketchbook with heavy-weight pages, you’re ready to go. I’ve owned a lot of journals and I’ve been enjoying Strathmore’s Visual Journal series for wet media (paint, collage, glue, etc.). It’s not featured in this post since we were working with an upcycled notebook (more on how to make one of this soon), but I usually have a Visual Journal in my bag when I run around town.

My best tip for finding the right journal is to visit the art store and handle all the journals. What size do you like? Big to spread out on a table? Small to carry in a bag? What weight do you like? If you paint a lot, you’ll want something with thick paper. If you prefer dry media, thin paper is a more economical solution.

And if you prefer to skip the sketchbook altogether, just work from a pile of paper. I like to keep a stack of card stock on hand for such times.

sketchbook gesso

Paint the page

Buy a bottle of gesso like this. Acrylic gesso is a polymer emulsion paint that’s used to paint over stretched canvases. You can think of it as a base coat upon which you can paint with watercolors, acrylics, and oils. You can also draw on top of gesso. Today we’ll draw on it (or into it) with a pencil.

Cover your page completely with gesso.

I placed a piece of wax paper (from the grocery store) under each of the pages to keep the paint off the table and off of the other pages in the sketchobook.

Alternative: Cover your page with white acrylic paint or thick white tempera paint. Tempera tends to flake off over time, but it should work if you’re interested more in the process than the product.

Draw into wet paint: Tinkersketch Challenge

Draw onto the page

With a pencil, makes some marks directly into the paint. Don’t worry too much about what you’re drawing. This is about the process of discovering a new technique and it helps to simply pay attention to what happens as you pull paint across the paper with the pencil, and notice how the pencil marks through the paint and onto the paper.

For the picture above, I drew some lines and ovals onto the paint and then handed the book over to my three-year old who added her own ideas.

Play with us on Instagram

Instgrammers often share their tinkersketches on Instagram, and it’s a fun way to get ideas from fellow sketchbookers. Just search for the hashtag #tinkersketch for more.

If you’d like to share you own sketches, either inspired by these posts or of your own creation, add #tinkersketch to your photo and we’ll find you. It’s a fun way to get to know other inspiring and aspiring artists.

And on that note, I should say that this is for beginners and professionals alike — no level of experience is too small or too big to play. All are welcome.