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3 Tips for Jump Starting Your Sketch Practice!

Maintaining a consistent drawing practice is essential if you want to be a successful surface pattern designer, block printer or silk screen artist. It's like flossing your know you should do it, but when life gets too hectic and stressful, it's easy to let it fall by the wayside.

If it makes you feel any better, this is an issue for talented artists who have become very successful (and highly paid) within their area of artistry. Heck, you could even call it a "dirty little secret".

I had a conversation this morning with a woman I know who has written a number of books that have ended up on the New York Times best seller list. One was made into a major Hollywood movie back in 2017. But she also does writing projects for clients, and she's been so busy working for them, that she hasn't worked on her latest book in ages. So.....the struggle is real!

Sketching may not always seem like it's worthwhile, because you may feel like you're "just doodling". However, a regular practice keeps your creative juices flowing. It makes it far easier to create new designs---the kinds you want to sell---and keeps you from getting rusty.

Bonus: the fear of looking at a blank white page just doesn't happen as often!

Here are my 3 tips for jump starting your sketch practice:

1. Get a smallish, plain old sketchbook, like the one you see in the video above. You do NOT need to go the art supply store and buy a chichi book with fine paper, as desirable as that might sound. A sketchbook from the dollar store will work just fine, thank you. Make sure that it's small enough to be carried EVERYWHERE, because that's what you're going to do. It needs to fit in your bag, backpack, shirt pocket or tote.

2. Grab just 3-4 different colored markers, pencils or whatever you like to draw with. Seriously, just a pencil will do fine. Or a pen. Get used to the idea of working with a limited color palette. A fun exercise is to just work with 2 colors, as you see in the video. So if you're working in black and green these days, start drawing things that are green: trees, peas, kiwis, frogs. You get the idea. If you don't have the confidence to draw objects, then just draw lines, squiggles, circles and squares.

3. Set aside a whopping 5 minutes a day to draw. If you can dedicate a certain time each day, all the better. For example, when you're drinking your morning coffee. Or when you're on the train going to work. Or at lunch. The earlier in the day, the more likely it will get done. But on days when all hell breaks loose and there's no chance of you getting to this at the scheduled time, that's when you pull the sketchbook out of your bag: on line at the bank, while you're waiting to pick up the kids at school, during a phone conversation, while you're waiting for a Zoom meeting to get going, and so on.

Your brain may try to convince you that 5 minutes a day won't matter much, so why bother? I'm guilty of this. I think that I need a great big block of time in order to do something right and to give it the kind of attention it deserves.

But what's going to happen is that you'll start to look forward to your 5 minute practice. Eventually 5 minutes will become 7 and then 10 and then 15.

What's even better is that once you get going, you'll start to draw motifs that you can end up using in your patterns, silk screens or block prints. Really prolific artists, the kind who are always landing licensing deals or coming up with new collections, go into their sketchbooks to pull out what seemed at the moment to be random sketches.

Trust me, these 3 little tips will make a big difference for you!


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