If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll know I love to document my travels in an illustrated journal, and I’ve also spent the last few months, on and off, accumulating the souvenirs of every day life, sticking them in my sketchbook and letting my art be inspired by my experiences. It’s been a great practice to challenge me to draw new things, to draw consistently, and to have a treasure trove of colourfully tangible memories to look back on, which is why I’m going to be making this even more of a focus for 2018.
Since the New Year is closing in quickly, I thought I’d share my tips for journaling in your sketchbook, while I catch up on some old entries from this year.
This particular day I’m working on is one you might have seen briefly at the end of my September vlog. Ozzy took me to a really cool exhibition his aunt was involved in, held in this beautiful building, and on the way there, the sunset was just mind-blowing. It was the kind of evening that I find perfect to capture visually, or even just in writing, because in your memories, when you look back, it almost just seems too good to be true.
So I suppose my first tip is to always have your eyes open to potential inspiration.
1. Look Around You
There won’t always be otherworldly sunsets, but when you really look- when you’re consciously seeking something standout- you notice that even the most mundane, everyday things can spark an idea. I spoke about this in another video called ‘Drawing Your Experiences’ where I mentioned the brilliant urban-sketcher Liz Steele who paints her cup of coffee almost every day. It’s a great creative routine, an amazing practice in consistency and a really effective way to show progression over the course of a year or more. You don’t necessarily have to paint the same thing every day, but having a go-to subject can stop you from stalling on those days where there’s nothing much to write home about.
2. Collect Everything
In the same vain, and this might not suit everyone, but I love to collect anything I can that I can stick into my sketchbook to support the spread and spark more memories. I love the interactivity in a sketchbook of bits that you can flip and pull out of envelopes, and having something to stick in is often a great first step; something to take away the glaring blankness of the white page and maybe build from into your drawings and writing.
3. Write As Much (or as little) As You Like
When it comes to writing, you really don’t have to. I share most of my sketchbooks with you guys online, so writing personal thoughts and feelings in there isn’t something I’m particularly comfortable with, but notes that will support your artwork, maybe a story from the day that you can’t quite capture in a photo or drawing, are great ways to fill empty space and add an extra element of interest to a spread.
Speaking of photos, I’m trying to take at least one every day next year. That kind of challenge forces you to really pay attention to each moment- going back to the first tip of always being aware, always on the look out for the beauty in every day moments. The more photos I take, the more I’ll have for reference when I’m drawing my day, or as an extra element to stick in.
In the past, I’ve waited until I’ve accumulated a few photos and then printed them from my regular printer, cut them out and stuck them in, but I was recently gifted this amazing photo printer by a company called Prynt. It has made it so much easier for me to instantly have a physical copy of any photo straight from my phone. You can print them on their sticky paper and just paste them right in.
Printing photos from my printer genuinely worked just fine for me but the thing that really makes a difference with the Prynt Pocket, on top of the convenience, portability and instantaneousness of it is this amazing feature, where you can scan a photo taken from a video with the Prynt app and it plays the video right there. I can just imagine flipping through this sketchbook in years to come and being able to relive those experiences in the most interactive way possible.
So thank you for this Prynt, I wasn’t paid to feature them but it’s a genuinely cool product that you can check out here.
5. Choose Your Tools
The only other thing really is to decide how and in what book you want to do your journalling. It’s all up to personal preference, what media you tend to use, if you’ll be doing more writing than drawing, or more wet application. I think watercolour or mixed media paper sketchbooks are always a safe bet to hold up against whatever you throw at them.
Next year, I’m so excited to be using the sketchbook I received from Autumn Chiu. It has such a special, story-book look and feel to it, and with it being handmade and completely unique, I can’t think of anywhere else more suited for all my best memories.
And that’s it. No need to overthink it, just make memories and make art. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it down on paper, however the mood takes you and enjoy the process.
I’m looking forward to making 2018 a year worth painting about. And I hope you are too! Thanks so much for joining me. Speak to you soon!