5 Ways a Sketchbook Can Change Your Life
OKAY, that might seem like a bit of a stretch, claiming that you can change our life if you keep a sketchbook. But I have seen it happen in my own life. I truly believe that if you begin to build a practice of showing up to your sketchbook regularly, MAGIC THINGS WILL HAPPEN. Keep reading to see what I mean…
EVERYONE NEEDS A SAFE PLACE.
There are some things you just can’t tell anyone. Or at least some things you just aren’t ready to share. And they aren’t always bad things that have happened in your life. There is nothing worse than finally screwing up the courage to tell your friend the dream you have of quitting your day job to open a used bookstore/coffee bar and to have said friend tell you what a stupid idea that is. Crushing absolutely any hope you had. So, your sketchbook can become a safe space for absolutely anything in your life. Literally no one ever has to read or see the work that you do in your sketchbook. You can write words that are super scary and hard for you to put down and then you can paint over them. Or you can write down your craziest dreams and then hide them all away behind an added flap. You can do whatever you want with your pages, except you can’t rip out a page. If there’s something you don’t like on that page, think of a way to make it better. Add something. Paint over it. Everything in your sketchbook goes towards the body of work you are creating, even the mistakes.
KEEPING YOUR HANDS BUSY FREES YOUR MIND.
Some days I go to work in my sketchbook and my mind is an ocean of calmness, it’s completely unruffled and I dig into my work with ease. But, in reality those days are few and far between. What usually happens is that I come to my sketchbook absolutely unsure of which way to go, and with a million thoughts floating through my mind: What should I make for dinner? My last class didn’t do too well, how can I tweak my marketing plan? How can I stick to my budget? Is there a way I can add an additional income stream? How can I help my son with his math homework? I need a better intro paragraph for the article I’m working on. And what happens soon after I start spreading paint across the page, or looking for images to add, or stamping a quote onto the page is that my mind begins to slow down and some of the answers that I was spending so much energy searching for come popping into my head. It’s usually when I’ve completely found my groove and I’m so focused on what I’m doing that I can actually provide myself with the space I need to think.
Sketchbook = Where you lose yourself in the entire moment. You lose yourself in the entire process.
GET TO KNOW YOURSELF A LITTLE BIT BETTER.
Your sketchbook becomes a place that is full of the choices that you make and it can be surprising what those choices tell you about yourself. Topics you write about, phrases you’ve cut out and glued in, paint colors you’ve chosen, shapes you’ve sketched, poems you’ve stamped on the page. These are all little clues about your mind and your life at that exact moment. You make so many of those choices unconsciously. Flipping through the pages of your sketchbook becomes a fascinating journey of your life. I know when I look back in my sketchbook, to the time when my marriage started to fall apart, the pages are full of greys and blacks and dreary dark colors. Pages full of lost writing. Pages where I was asking questions, but I had no answers. And then sometime after my separation, when I started to get my life back together, the colors started to change. They started to soften, yellows and reds and blue began to creep back in. Pages became full of hope. The pages in your sketchbook became a mirror where you are able to see yourself more clearly. Where your hopes, your dreams, and your fears are reflected back to you.
WE ALL NEED “HIGH-TOUCH” EXPERIENCES.
Technology has changed the way we write, design, interact, communicate, and create. We need to get messy. Life is messy. Emotions are messy. It’s really hard to take out your frustration while you type madly on your iPad or enter your feelings into an app. But, when you grab a marker and make a mess on the page, scribbling out your feelings there is a release that happens. And the best part is you don’t need anything fancy to do this. I work with cheap materials on purpose. They’re easily accessible and I don’t feel like I’m “wasting them” while I work in my sketchbook.
As adults there are so few places that we can really let loose. Where we can let our hair down and let it all hang out. Children have these outlets all the time. They can sit and draw and paint for hours, they can escape into imaginary worlds and colors. Your sketchbook becomes like a playground for imperfection and we all need a little more imperfection in our lives. Good ideas usually start from bad ideas and these bad ideas only get better when you spend time working on them, writing about them, painting about them.