If you like to dabble in art you know that to many people who don’t enjoy getting their pen and paper out, sketching can appear to be a waste of time. Art in general for that matter. If you aren’t able to make it a profession, if it does not aid you in your education or career then why spend hours with a fine-liner creating little depictions in your rough sketchbook when you could be spending that time doing, well anything else. There appears to be a stigma around any form of drawing that isn’t ‘good’, if you don’t have natural-talent then unimpressive doodles are pointless. If you have spent a long time away from drawing due to work or school, you may come back to it feeling defeated, rusty even and once you have tirelessly tried to perfect that tree outside your window you look down at the mess and wonder why you started. I have received messages from university students stating their dismay that art helps then mentally but that they have no time for it. I feel this especially true for the modest and shy (most of which are artists) who don’t even let someone peek until they are done. It can be frustrating to work hard at something such as art when sometimes the results don’t align with the effort, with the subjectivity of art being so apparent you may judge your work in such a harsh way that no “that’s really good I wish I could draw!” really helps.
The reality is that you aren’t alone, there are many of us who have the itch to create, the luxury of being a writer means that often people will, for the most part leave you alone when you haven’t finished. Writing is a work in progress that people wait for you to give up before they can enjoy it. Art is rather different, drawing in public can be intimidating and even drawing in solitude can make the day go by so fast that you feel unproductive. When creating a huge canvas piece there is an end goal, to fill every inch with paint and produce a square of genius. There really is no end point to sketching. Truth be told it can be as impossible to start as it is to stop, having an entire sketchbook to yourself doesn’t help either. Another common problem is that of stopping for work. When you are busy the closest you get to sketching is drawing down the margin of your lecture notes (or in my case destroying my essay plan with rough caricatures of library students), there is definitely the thought “I can’t start now” because the reality is stopping in the middle of sketching is a big no-no. You can’t be half-way through an eye and suddenly abandon your work to start planning your next work day, in the moment it actually can feel deeply important to finish. I would argue the reality is it is important!
There are few things that bring true serenity, to relax many cite a good long bath or their favourite meal with a cheesy film. Sketching can really envelop you in the calm, it demands your concentration whilst allowing your imagination to drift into an almost dream-like state. It is easy to be discouraged when you stumble on amazing art online and suddenly feel inadequate, like you should give up but who are you trying to impress? There is always going to be someone who can subjectively draw to a higher standard so why let this stop you? Many artists feel this way, you aren’t alone in your doubts. We focus so much of our time wondering how our skills can be applied to the outside work, why do anything for free in such financial times? If you can’t sell your art, if it doesn’t get overwhelming likes on Instagram or you peak at someone you feel is more talented ask yourself this, do you apply this to all your hobbies? When you bake a cake, watch your favourite programme or cheer on your team do you get paid? Does it contribute to anything other than your own happiness? Then save up for that Moleskin and good luck! I plan to follow my own advice and get back into water-colouring, maybe opening up a new art Instagram to try and commit to something that I really truly love no matter the time.
P.S. If you want some inspiration this virtual reality sketchbook is incredible (I have no idea how they did it), you have to experience it to understand.
Side photo credit: Flickr/ ‘Charles Dana Gibson, illustrator (1867-1944). The Gibson Book, Volume II. 1907’ by Toronto Public Library