Make a Sketch: A sketch a day keeps the dullness away

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

Do you draw? If so, how do you create time to make a sketch?

I try to make a habit of sketching something every day. When I get really busy, which seems like a lot lately, I’m terrible at keeping this promise to myself. If you know my blog, you might remember that I started the Tinkersketch challenge last summer. Basically, it’s a simple challenge to make a drawing every day. And to motivate us to play, you were invited to share your sketches on Instagram. Sound familiar?

Like some of you, I began this challenge with a lot of energy, but then, like I said, I got busy. And maybe you did too. But even though I haven’t been good at sharing my sketches with you, I do make an effort to jot notes or images down every day.

Here’s how…

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

How to keep a sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive

  • I carry at least one of my favorite felt tip markers in my bag at all times. Unless one of my children finds it before I do, having the right tool makes me want to draw more.
  • I carry a notebook, sketchbook, journal, stack of index cards, napkins — whatever — in my bag at all times.
  • Pull out this notebook when waiting in line or when I have an extra minute to spare. All it takes is five minutes and I’m done! More time would obviously be better, but I think it’s more important to focus on workable rather than idealized goals.

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

A sketching story

Yesterday I was waiting, by myself (this is a rare treat), at a deli for some take-out sandwiches. In moments like this I usually pull out my phone and scan it for email updates. But it was also a great opportunity to get in a few moments of drawing. So instead of trolling Facebook, I pulled out my sketchbook and started to doodle.

My order was ready about ten minutes later, and as he handed me my bag, the owner asked me if I was an artist. I kind of stuttered over myself, not really sure how to label my current life path. At one point in my past I would have said, “yes,” but now I’m so many other things.

So my answer was, “well, I make drawings.” And then he asked me if I’d like to show my work in his cafe. Isn’t that lovely? I had no idea it was going there.

But that, my friends, is all from sitting down for a few minutes of doodling.

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

You may have noticed that I’m sprucing things up around here. I’m interested in carrying on with more posts that take a look at what it means to be a creative adult. Not to worry, the child-focused posts will still be around, but it seems like it’s high time to expand the world of Tinkerlab.

My plan, and please forgive me for it’s a tenuous one right now, is to make this space your home for all things creative. I’m still rather busy, and trying to catch up on sleep while also dropping coffee from my diet, but you can count on weekly updates full of ideas, tips, resources, and interviews in the space of creativity and making.

A question for you…

Do you draw? If so, when do you do it and what tools do you use? And if not, is something holding you back or is it just not your thing?

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  1. That is fantastic – i look forward to your new direction. I started drawing again this past year slowly. I was artistic as a child but stopped creating somewhere at the end of high school. I grew more and more afraid of letting go. Last year I started with doodling and this year I am adding in watercolours, mixed media and art journaling. I am experiencing a huge re-awakening and seem to have pens and paper and notebooks everywhere.

    I mostly use my favourite pencil + ultra fine sharpies / bic permanent pens for drawing.

    • Deb, I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one who’s enthusiastic about this new direction! Congrats on making time to make art. As you suggest, it helps to release ourselves from expectations of perfection. Playing around with materials, in the same way we might encourage children to experiment, does wonders for releasing ourselves from mark-making fears. Thanks for sharing your favorite tools! I’m also a fan of thin Sharpies. I’ll be on the lookout for Bic permanent pens.

    • Hi Jodi! I’m your page’s newest fan. Are those all of your doodles? Thank you for the very thoughtful comment — I really appreciate it.

  2. I decided about 3 years ago to stop telling myself I can’t draw and just give it a try. To my delight, I am getting better all the time, and loving it! My 7yo has shown a love for drawing as well, mostly because she see’s me drawing.

    I draw whenever I can. Long car rides, waiting rooms, when I can’t fall asleep at night, and sometimes when the hubby and I watch a movie at night.

    I love to draw with sharpies, ball point pens, or just a regular old pencil. I’ve started experimenting with some of the other pencils (2B, HB, 4B, etc.) as well as some charcoal pencils. We recently picked up the book “Drawing With Children,” by Mona Brooks. I look forward to working my way through it.

    • Hi Tina, It’s all about baby steps, isn’t it? Getting better at drawing, just like anything else, takes practice. I don’t doubt for one second that your 7yo loves drawing because you’re modeling a love for it. Did you know that Picasso’s father was an art teacher?

    • Rebekah, I’m excited about this too and delighted that you share an interest in this. Changing direction is a natural part of life, but sometimes it’s hard to know when we’re moving in the right direction, or if it’s the right time. Children learn through our actions, so it’s important to be the people that we want our children to be.

    • Indeed, Jen! Thanks fellow artist momma, for the support and friendship. xo

  3. I was literally just thinking yesterday that I never create anything of my own when I’m sitting with my kids while they’re busy creating. Part of it is having a 4-year old who usually needs my help, but part of it is just thinking that it’s something my kids do, not me. I want to change that, because I need a creative outlet too. I’m going to keep it simple & just enjoy the process. I think my kids will love to see me working right along with them.

    • I love that you said you’re “going to keep it simple and enjoy the process.” If you’re having fun, you’ll get more out of it, it won’t be a source of stress, and your children will see the joy in the process too. I love making drawing mistakes while my children look on, as a reminder that we all have ideas that are difficult to execute on the first pass.

  4. I have been doodling with my girls since you started tinkersketch.
    I am so excited to see how this space evolves 🙂

    • Maya, you are such a great friend. Thanks for taking time to leave me a comment — it means so much!

  5. I love to doodle, draw, color, paint.. but I don’t do it much for “myself,” it is usually when I am creating and crafting with my daughter. Your post inspires me to take time to sketch or doodle! Do you think you might share some of your favorite drawing tools? which pens, markers, etc you like.

    • Hi Heather,
      Do it!! I love black felt tip pens of all sorts. That’s actually part of my collection in the photo up there. I’m currently obsessed with a simple Paper Mate Flair pen, and I love the Micron pens in all widths. Micron and thin Sharpies are my favorite for using with mixed media since the ink is permanent and won’t bleed when it comes into contact with water. I also love to pick up paint brush style black pens from Japanese shops. They’re so much fun to draw with and give sketch a calligraphy feel. But then it all boils down to how the pen feels — in your hand — when it hits the paper. My 4-year old also loves these pens and has actually told me that she likes how they feel when she draws with them.

  6. love your story!
    i was thinking of taking a drawing class this summer or maybe a 40th birthday drawing retreat:) busy?

    • Now you’re talking. I think you hit on the perfect plan. Does it involve drawing in Vegas, poolside?

  7. That’s great, everytime I go to check my email I should be drawing instead… Maybe I can put a sticky note on top of my phone when I put it in my bag, and then I can’t check my email until I have drawn something on it? 🙂

    • Katherine, you are brilliant! Someone should make an app that won’t let you open your phone until you make a quick screen drawing.

  8. Love your ideas- and your pens! I’m going to be looking for that lovely felt tip. Look forward to your evolutions, so exciting 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Cassidy! For better or worse, my pen collection keeps growing as I discover new ones.

  9. It had to happen!!!!! Love it and look forward to all things Tinkerlab. 🙂

    • You’re so right, Ali. It had to happen. xo

  10. Thank you for this, Rachelle. I love reading things that make me do something, and right after I read your post I got up and made a sketch! I never considered myself artistic but now I’m a homeschooler I so enjoy creating alongside my kids. We’re drawing a lot of nature stuff right now. I think I might, like you, start carrying round a little sketchpad – I keep seeing delightful buds opening and wishing I had one 🙂

    • Oh, you’re so welcome Lula! Your comment totally made my day. Keep me posted on your sketching journey, and if you’re on Instagram, please tag me with photos of your sketches.

  11. Ha! As in every other realm of my life, I’ve put my kids first when it comes to art. My purse notebook is ALWAYS taken over by my kids, and I absolutely never draw anymore. I’m loving messing around with the projects I feature on my blog, but you know, that’s so different than doing your own thing. Great post, and I’m excited about your new direction!

    • Jeanette,
      Such is the life of a parent, no?! I keep dreaming of opening my own studio (um, it used to be my kids’ room), and one day I imagine it will happen. For now we’ll have to figure out a sneaky way around this little challenge. I’m glad that you’re an eager partner-in-crime. Let’s figure this out!

  12. Rachelle,
    I am so excited to hear about your new exploration of creativity for adults on the blog! I didn’t even know I was craving this until I read this post — and I’m totally craving it! I love the doodling in the deli story. Totally inspirational. Going to stick a sharpie and a sketch pad in my purse this summer and see if I can make it happen. Totally better than checking Facebook for the 12th time. Thank you!

  13. This is great. Any suggestions on pen to get? I love the black calligraphy pen you use. Eiya and I started drawing on stones we collected. Eiya goes through her rocks fast and run out pretty quickly. It was fun to draw together. Sketch book will be good. I used to do that for my art class. Thank you always.

    • Hi Sheau, I have a fondness for most pens and would suggest going to the art store and playing around with a few different ones to see which you enjoy the most. Waterproof pens are great because you can watercolor over them: Micron and Sharpie are excellent brands. I like felt-tip pens, but some drag more, which others are smoother. Drawing on stones is so fun. We once did something similar and ran out of stones fast! Have you ever tried drawing on leaves?

  14. Sometimes freeing myself to do a “study” is the way to let go of super-high expectations. I also like focusing on only one element like lines. At other times, just doing some speed sketching is a way to let go of perfection and just enjoy the moment or the process of creating.

  15. Have you ever checked out jetpens.com ? They have an amazing (fun) array of pens that will make you want to draw on everything! (Ok so I’m biased, but I’m not getting paid for this, I just love the pens!)

    Like you I have made a “resolution” to intentionally sketch with the desire to improve, every day this year.
    I’m just not sure all of them will be worth putting on the internet. All of my artist friends do “year in review” art posts at the end of the year showing the highlight pieces from each month – my goal is to be able to do that next year, and see obvious improvement. I doodle all the time, every day anyway; but drawing every day isn’t the same thing as intentionally drawing to improve. If you love to doodle little flowers, you will never improve your perspective drawing just by practicing flowers every day. So sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone! I’m speaking to myself here. Thanks for your inspiration!

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