the pigeon letters blog
5 Reason why you should start sketching

5 Reason You Should Start Sketching

drawing urban sketching Jan 21, 2021

Hi everyone, I’m Amandine Thomas and I'm so excited to share my journey of sketching and why I think it's so important, with you all today!

The summer before I turned 16, just before the school year ended, our teachers asked us to sketch every single day until school started again. One day, one sketch, all summer long! After that, I was hooked. My sketchbooks became my very own creative playground, a safe space to experiment, play, try things out… and it’s in their pages that my creative style actually emerged. 

“Ok”, you might think, “That’s a nice story but… What is it about sketching that’s so great anyway?” Well, no matter where you’re at in your creative journey, here are my top 5 (out of many) reasons you should maintain a regular sketching practice!

  

1. A beautiful way to record memories

 

 

When you spend time sketching somewhere, it’s much easier to become fully immersed in your environment. You have to pay attention to the colors, the patterns, the atmosphere of a place, whether it be your grandpa’s garden or a temple in India. And the longer you sketch, the more you will remember the smells, the sounds, the music around you. People might stop to have a chat, kids could ask to try your tools, a stray dog might even decide to have a nap at your feet, and all of a sudden you’re part of the scene, not just passing by.

For all these reasons, I absolutely love to open a sketchbook at random and be immediately transported back to where I was when I was drawing. The details you see when drawing something is one of my favorite parts. These details are often missed when you just snap a picture and move on. Every time I flip a page, the memories are revived and each experience is captured in a much more meaningful way. 

 

2. A fantastic drawing workout  

 

 

Sketching is also an amazing drawing workout. Just like a regular workout, the more you do it, the stronger you get. Think of it as a warm-up, before the big performance that a finished piece would represent: that base work is exactly what you need to hone your craft and grow creatively! Skipping it would be like suddenly deciding that you want to be an athlete, but only wanting to compete at the Olympics.

If you neglect your training and only show up for big events, you're going to be a bit unprepared, right? So, by flexing those drawing muscles, you can keep your skills sharp and challenge yourself without the added pressure of producing something perfect

 

3. A wonderful creative playground

 

 

Ok, let’s be honest, we've ALL felt that feeling of I'm-not-good-enough when we start browsing perfectly curated Instagram profiles or Pinterest boards, right? Even my work-in-progress images are carefully staged and curated for Instagram. Sometimes, I don’t feel comfortable sharing the mess of my creative process on my platform. Social media has this way of pushing us to focus on creating finalized, flawless pieces, instead of valuing the exploratory phase that allows us to grow and stay inspired. Because it’s in that mess that we eventually find our own, “authentic” voice, not a watered-down version of hundreds of other people’s styles.

And guess what? Your sketchbook is the perfect place to relieve some of that pressure! Each page becomes a personal, almost intimate space, where you can safely fail, or succeed for that matter! Either way, the final product doesn't have to matter that much. It's more about that creative journey, and what you learn from it along the way.

In your sketchbook, you can give yourself permission to mess up! Learn to accept that not everything will look amazing in the end. Plus, in the process, you’ll learn how to trust your gut, and identify what not only feels right, but also looks right!

 

4. A place to identify and strengthen your aesthetic 

 

 

Remember the high school assignment I mentioned earlier? One of the rules was that we weren't allowed to throw sketches out. Why do you ask? How many times have you finished a piece, and immediately wanted to get rid of it? Hated it, even? We sometimes feel this way because we are emotionally attached to what we create. It’s understandable! Creating means making ourselves vulnerable, to other people’s opinions, and to our own! So, we don't throw sketches out because when we return to our sketchbook at a later date, we may feel differently about the sketch we initially hated.

Being able to assess your work is a great way to learn, and to grow creatively. Plus, it’s the first step towards using your sketchbook as a road map towards finding your own style. By going back through the pages of your sketchbook, you can compare different techniques, review what worked and what didn’t! Most importantly, you can see the progression in your work!

The more you sketch, the more likely it is that you'll see some trends starting to emerge. It's not always easy to recognize them until you truly get a birds-eye view of your work. Each isolated sketch won’t necessarily tell you that much, but together, they’ll reveal your patterns, your strengths, or weaker areas you might want to improve on. That’s very valuable insight!

 

 

5. A source of inspiration for your illustration work 

 

 

By now you know that my personal sketchbook explorations have led me to develop a style that not only feels right, but also plays to my strengths. Your next question might be, how did I move from the pages of my sketchbook, to illustrations? Drawing to capture reality is very different from drawing to create an illustration. The process of translating what you’ve discovered through your sketchbook into a cohesive illustration style is way more natural and painless than you might expect!

What FELT right and LOOKED right in your sketchbook will also feel right and look right in an illustration. From the use of a particular tool, to an affinity with a particular material or the development of an unusual technique can all ultimately form your own unique style.

By getting acquainted with these materials in your sketchbook, you’ll feel all the more confident when the time comes to work on an illustration.

 

 

Where to from here? 

 

I hope I convinced you to give sketching a go! You won’t regret it, I promise. And to help you along the way, I’ve put together a brand new Skillshare class, “Find Your Creative Style, Sketching to Develop Your Aesthetic” a series of empowering and exploratory lessons that are sure to kickstart your sketchbook! To celebrate the launch of the class, you can download a handy PDF recapping my top tips and prompts to tackle the composition of your sketch! Plus, new Skillshare members get 2 weeks of Premium for free!

So, no more excuses, go forth and sketch!

 


 

 

Hi everyone, I’m Amandine Thomas, a French-born, Melbourne-based illustrator with an ever-growing collection of sketchbooks. I’ve been lugging them around the world for about 15 years now, and it all started… With a high school assignment!

 


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