Its been quite a few months since I posted. I have been painting regularly but have been devoting all my free time to the studio so haven’t written any blog updates. As I am in the final stages of completing a mini series of works I thought I’d pause and take a few moments to reflect on a challenge I did earlier this year.
I spotted the campaign on Instagram and had heard great things about its creator Cheryl Taves @insightcreativecoaching. Cheryl apparently was a coach on CVP a few years ago so I thought I’d give her Sketchbook Challenge, a go.
30 Day Sketchbook Challenge
It is a relatively inexpensive course at $59, c£44 depending on exchange. And is, like many courses of this type, delivered via pre recorded videos and online guides. It has been designed to help artists get into the practice of using their sketchbooks on a regular basis and to strengthen your artist’s mindset through reflective writing. The pro’s of this kind of course is that you can complete it at your own pace, no live broadcasts that you need to dial in to in the evening so its easy to get it to fit around your everyday life and commitments.
For me the course was a real light bulb moment. I have always kept sketchbooks but tended to use these for drawing rather than anything specific to my art. This course provides you with prompts and importantly reflective questions each day along with examples of Cheryl’s own work. The prompts are very varied, some give guidance on different techniques you can try, others are more conceptual, for example on day 11 you are asked to think about how your sketchbook could become your sidekick in your art practice.
Time is Everything
I don’t know if it was just serendipity but this course landed for me at just the right time. I’d recently suffered from a bit of creative block and was struggling with how to get my art back on track. Having had months of frustration this intervention was the perfect solution. It isn’t like other workshops where you have a very clear brief to complete as homework. Although it does follow a similar structure and maybe that was what I needed. I was never one to skip homework at school so I know that I do have this inner value set that forces me to complete set tasks. But its more than that….
Unlocking Your Inner Most Thoughts
The thoughtfulness of the prompts and questions helped unlock something. I’ve never been a diary keeper or had any great revelations from reflective writing so it isn’t something I have much experience of. I’ve always struggled when people asked me questions about my art. Sure I can talk till the cows come home about the mediums and techniques but the talking about the meaning is a whole other thing.
I was inspired by some of the other artists taking the course and for the first few days spent a lot of time reading their comments on Instagram. I was amazed by how open they were about their struggles. But more than that, amazed by the number of comments and replies they got. I realised that when Instagram works best is when it is a genuine conversation between people. And when you post more insightful comments alongside your workpeople are more inclined to respond.
Stuff I Learned
Ok here’s a few of my key takeaways …
- I need to really question the pressure I’m feeling when it comes to my art making and work out if this is self imposed (it is!) and why
- I’m not a natural rule breaker! It was ridiculous how difficult I found day 2’s prompt to break the rules.
- Greater contrasts and more defined shapes make for better paintings – a no brainer I know but I do tend to go for more muted colours and texture
- Taking a break from sharing really helped push me more. The fear of posting something ugly definitely holds me back when it comes to experimenting. But when I do push myself the combination of fear and excitement can be liberating
- You don’t need loads of stuff to keep up your sketchbook habit – a few pencils and some crayons are enough
- Sketchbooks are a great place to work through composition ideas
- I have a weird relationship with the colour yellow
- I need to be bolder with my mark making
So if you fancy a short course to kick start your art check this one – you won’t be disappointed!