An Illustrated Life: How Do I Start??


If you are interested in drawing, chances are you probably have been doing it all along (and maybe not when you were supposed to!) Maybe you are a doodler, which is not a bad thing. Studies support the idea that doodlers who doodle on their paper or program while listening to a speaker tend to retain more information than those who do not. As a teacher, I have received many math or English papers with lots of ornate and not so ornate drawings of little characters and other things in the margins. Some were even in color!

The book An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory is nothing more than a peek into a bunch of artists’ sketchbooks. They are all very different from each other, but they all share some common ground:

1. They all keep more than one sketchbook. Some of the sketchbooks are for ideas for their work as illustrators, and some are for doodling.

2. They all suffer from the I can’t think of anything to draw syndrome from time to time. More often than you might think!

3. Each one tends to draw with his/her preferred medium: usually it is pens, markers, colored pencils, or watercolors.

4. They all draw a variety of subject matter, but tend to draw what he/she likes the most. (For example, some prefer to draw cars, some prefer buildings, etc.).

5. They all take a sketchbook with them when they travel (not just a vacation trip but everyday trips such as to an airport, bus station, doctor appointment,etc. While waiting, these people draw instead of reading trashy magazines.)

6. Almost all of them keep a visual journal of their life. (some resemble a comic book)

7. None of them draw on loose paper: it’s always in some type of sketchbook.

8. All of them value their sketchbooks and never throw them away.

9. Some sketchbooks are kept private, and some are not.

10. They all experience times when they get away from their drawing, (life happens) but eventually get back to it.

So Are You Ready To Resurrect your Doodling Habit? If so, here are some helpful hints:

1. Buy a quality sketchbook: Hobby Lobby, Michaels, even office supply stores have been known to carry them.

2. Get a copy of An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory. Your local library may have it. There is something about looking at other people’s drawings that gets your creative juices flowing.

3. Illustration Friday is a website that provides sketchbook prompts every Friday, of course! This might help you get started. There are probably many other ones like it, if you do a Google search.

4. Try and set aside a time everyday to draw: it doesn’t have to be an hour. It can be five or ten minutes. What matters is creating the habit to do it. And you can work on the same drawing for several weeks if you want. If you can’t do it every day, try every Friday! Whatever works for you.

5. Expect to become braindead at times: it’s normal! Why do you think they created sketchbook prompts?? Your sense of humor will come in handy.

6. Give Yourself Permission to Draw! Drawing is more productive than watching TV, right!?

So what do you think? Are you ready to give drawing a try?

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