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Sketchbook Procrastination

Last year was a really difficult year for me for a number of reasons (including my being diagnosed with MS) and, like so many of us, I needed to work hard to get through it all. My usual ‘half glass full just put on a brave face and power through’ stance wasn’t quite cutting it and I had to rethink my approach to coping.

In times of stress I often go to my sketchbook but last year I found, I couldn’t easily get through to that creative flow part of my brain that is my safe space - the part that makes my soul sing, that just makes sense of everything. Why couldn’t I just lean into it and produce some wonderfully fulfilling and inspirational work in my hour of need? That flow state is so precious and productive, I just wanted to tap into it all the time, but I couldn’t, its transient nature meant that it was hard to pin down and the desire to catch it became obsessive and futile. A sort of writer’s block, that just couldn’t and wouldn’t be shifted. So, for a while, I stopped trying and just let life happen.

At this point I should also mention that I started to read Julia Cameron’s phenomenal book ‘The Artist’s Way’ which I am happy to credit in some part for helping me to find my way back to my sketchbook and the Art Therapy that I desperately craved. I also implemented a combination of self-care techniques, some of which I’d never really understood or considered before and certainly never realised that I actually needed!  Journaling, meditation, pilates, reading, talking – I had touched on a few of them before but never in a sustained fashion or parallel to one another and I found that doing exactly that really helped to clear my head.

Once I started sorting out the muddled filing system (that was my head) and putting things in order I found that I had more room for creativity and things started to flow more naturally.

pencilspalette

I decided to try out a few new artist materials such as tinted charcoal pencils (who knew?!) and bought a few new colours for my paint set, creating some colour charts to warm up. I rediscovered my old watercolour pencil which sparked a significant memory of my younger self aged 20 (mid-way through my design degree), having a crisis in confidence about my creative abilities. I remember, back then, that I came through it helped by a new found drawing style with my watercolour pencil and never looked back. I loved the fact that you couldn’t erase this medium so you had to be confident in your approach. It took practice but I found my groove and filled a whole sketchbook inspired by a trip to the Science Museum (mainly focussing on elephants!) with a renewed confidence.

Elephant eye focus

 

So here I am, in a much happier creative headspace starting to find myself again and raring to go. I haven’t filled a new sketchbook yet but I am brimming with ideas and excitement with my art materials at the ready and, most importantly, I have started again!

dove sketchbook

 

bookmarks sketches

My top tips for (re)engaging with your creative side:

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