The Daily Sketch
Making the Commitment
The daily sketch. It doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal…at first. You go out, you buy a sketchbook suitable for your needs, you select your weapons of choice, and you select a day to begin. And then the realization hits you…you are committing to do this daily. As in, every day. Every. Single. Day. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Every day without fail. No matter what.
And then the question…
What have I gotten myself into?
I’m chuckling to myself because I remember all too clearly. I noticed artists on social media posting artwork every day without fail with the all-important #dailysketch. After digging around a bit, I noticed hundreds of artists around the world posting a daily sketch. I decided that I should be doing this too. For me, this revelation occurred around the beginning of November 2013. I noticed an artist’s posts with a tiny (2.5x3.5”) Moleskine sketchbook with dated pages. Perfect for what I wanted to do. Small pages meant smaller sketches and less time involved. I did have occasional commissions, after all. And a small daily sketch was better than no daily sketch. Dated pages meant it would keep me accountable. I would be posting these for all to see and the date of the page had better correspond with whatever the date was that day.
Decision made. I could do this.
The sketchbook was not available in stores and had to be ordered. That was fine. It was for 2014, which was still about a month and a half away. In the meantime, I prepped for what was to come. I Googled and filed dozens of animal and wildlife images. I’d pick one every day. I had a random sketchbook and started sketching daily in that, gearing myself up for January 1, 2014. Naturally, I used a pencil since that is what I normally use for commissions. But I quickly found out that with the book in my backpack, all the jostling of my daily commute would smear the graphite and I’d lose much of my work to a faded smeary page of halftone animal drawings. I confided in an artist friend who also draws on his work commute. His solution was ballpoint pen.
Oh, the permanence of the pen! Eliminating the ability to erase was very intimidating. But, I had to remind myself that this was only meant to be for daily sketches, not paid commissions. Throughout December I tried to get into the swing of sketching every day in a spare sketchbook. I tried to limit each one to 20–30 minutes, but it rarely turned out that way. Most of my dailies ended up being 45–90 minute sketches. What can I say? Considering that my commissioned work generally takes two to four weeks, an hour and a half is a quick sketch!
But then came the process of picking a suitable pen. I started off with a cheap Papermate pen, but I didn’t like the inconsistency of the ink flow. It took days of trial and error with a number of ballpoint pen brands and the endless models within each brand…Papermate, Bic, Pentel RSVP, and freebies that I got from the bank.
I settled on the Pentel RSVP Fine point for my daily sketches and then settled into learning the nuances of working in ink. I learned Rule #1 pretty quickly…wipe the tip off frequently. The evil ink blob got me on more than one occasion throughout 2014, depositing itself unceremoniously onto the middle of my drawing. I got pretty good at disguising the blobs after a while, but I cursed my forgetfulness every time it happened.
By the time Fall rolled around, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was coming into the home stretch of a full year of sketching and posting every day. I was feeling accomplished and ready for 2015. So, I ordered the same sketchbook and kept right on drawing. It had been encouraging to me throughout 2014 that random people would stop to not just like my posts, but to comment favorably. I even had a few requests! A growing “fan base” helped enormously in keeping me on track. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn’t make it through 2015. My commissions’ calendar suddenly got very full and I was unable to keep up with both.
Still, I can’t say that I’ve ever produced 365 drawings in one year prior to having committed to doing a daily sketch. And yes, I’m very proud to have accomplished that. It’s been a few years since then and I have to admit that I miss it. But it’s impossible with my current schedule. So, I have recently decided to do a weekly sketch in a slightly larger format (5x7”). These take between one to two hours and are in pencil. Most will eventually be available on Fine Art America for purchase (prints and originals).
Have you been considering committing to daily sketches? I highly recommend it. It’s fun once you’re totally involved and it feels good to stretch those creative muscles and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the year is fantastic. There is quite a bit to consider though. I get it. Like, what the heck am I going to draw every single day?
Stay tuned for next week’s post where I’ll lay a few helpful tips on you. And hey, if you like what you’ve been reading, please take a second to subscribe and share with anyone you think might also be interested. I appreciate you!