10 ways to cultivate a healthy sketchbook habit

Mapsy artist Melanie Chadwick has written a fantastic guide to using sketchbooks that's well worth a read and will hopefully inspire many of you to get drawing. Check out Melanie's maps here.

There are lots of benefits to having a sketchbook habit, for one it allows you to be in the moment and observe and take in your surroundings. I find that it calms me down, almost like being in a meditative state, and I often will feel more relaxed once I’ve sketched as my mind has had a chance to switch off and just draw what’s in front of me.

Here are 10 ways to get you going if you’re thinking of taking up your own sketchbook habit.

1. Use a sketchbook

It sounds obvious but it is essential to nurturing your sketchbook habit if you choose a sketchbook that you will enjoy using, preferably one that will fit in your bag or pocket and is unlined. Having a sketchbook will help you keep things in sequence and can also be read like a book. You’ll be able to look back on your progress and literally see your life in pictures.

2. Have a basic kit

sketchbook tools

Sometimes the variety of materials you can choose from is overwhelming but all you really need is a basic kit consisting of a few supplies. A main drawing tool, a
​​supplimentary​ pen for words and something for washes (like a travel watercolour set), is all you really need to get started. Refillable brushes are great for holding water without the need for ​jars or bottles.

3. Pick a time & commit

Everyone can sketch but not everyone is disciplined. Pick a time of day that you will commit to sketching and stick to it. If you build it into your routine you will find it comes more naturally. For instance store your sketchbook next to your kettle and you could use the time it takes to boil the water to draw your teacup.

4. Stay accountable

Whether it’s your partner, best friend, third cousin removed, tell someone what you are committing to. They don’t have to get it but if they know it’s important to you they can help by asking how it’s going and encourage you to keep on sketching.

5. Carry it with you everywhere

take your sketchbook everywhere

Take your sketchbook with you wherever you go. If you’re waiting for a hospital appointment use it as an opportunity to sketch people, waiting for your car to be repaired? Try drawing cars. You’ll soon find these once mundane tasks become interesting opportunities to sketch and develop your observation skills.

6. Get creative

To keep your sketchbook feeling fresh try different layout spreads. You could have close ups of objects combined with landscape views. Before you sketch you could apply a wash of colour then draw on top, or incorporate collage either way don’t be afraid to experiment!

7. Explore a new place

valletta malta sketchbook drawing

A great way to discover a new place is to draw it. Set a date to visit somewhere new and take your sketchbook along to document your findings. Include the food you ate, the buildings you saw, the people you met etc. It will become a lovely memento of the day.

8. Use text

use text in your sketchbook

Incorporate words and text into your sketches. Try mimicking a favourite font or giving your pages a fancy hand lettered title. Write down the weather, mood, temperature, what you could hear and smell. All of these things will help make keeping a sketchbook even more interesting.

9. Make a map

Try creating a map of your local area in your sketchbook. Maybe it could be the route you take to work or your favourite places to eat. This is a fun exercise that helps give variety to your pages as well as connecting you with your local area.

10. Just start!

Just start where you are, you don’t need to go somewhere exotic or different you can draw right where you are.  Remember everything’s interesting when you draw it!

You can see more from Melanie at her website or follow her on Instagram - Thanks Mel!

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