I’ve been reading some of my favourite sketching blogs about how and why one keeps a sketching journal. Liz Steel started me off with her reprise of her talk Adventures with my Sketchbook. From there I went to Laura Frankstone’s thoughtful comments about her own sketchbook journey. Next I read her interview here. And then somehow, with all the clicking, I got to this lovely sketching blog. I’ve been a journal keeper all my life, but in 2009 Danny Gregory’s Creative Licence propelled me into the world of sketching and I’ve been filling watercolour journals (generally badly) ever since. His latest blog entry is an eloquent argument for drawing as a portal for all creativity. I’m putting an excerpt here, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.
When you draw something you see it in a new way. A good drawing is a fresh perspective on an object you may have seen a thousand times before: a building, a body, a bowl of fruit, your breakfast dishes. But by paying deliberate and careful attention to every nook and cranny, you flood your mind and your page with new information about what you are seeing — the texture of a banana skin, the way light hits a brick, how the knee connects to the shin bone, the exact curve of a cup handle. You are suspending the critical function of your pre-frontal cortex, refusing to decide whether there’s importance to each individual line and aspect; you just record them all. This information isn’t actually that important to you beyond the act of drawing, you don’t need to retain the visual data about that banana skin, it may have no further utility to you. But it is expanding your awareness of the world around you, strengthening for observation muscles — it has as much purpose as lifting the same weight over and over at the gym.
When your mind’s eye is open and your screens and filters are down, you get more and more useful information, and that information and experience are the raw fodder for creativity. Forming associations between apparently disparate things to create a new idea is what creativity is all about. And the more open your mind is, the more you are open to experiencing things are interesting but may not have immediate and obvious relevance to your current endeavors. By exposing yourself to art, to novelty, to new ideas, facts and experiments, you stretch your mind so that it is pliable and elastic, so that it doesn’t seize up when you have to move in a new direction. Your reservoirs of references are loaded and you have oodles of bits and bobs to build new ideas with.
So, as I am finishing my last rug and dreaming up the next, I am also trying to capture the world around me . I have come to love and value the process even as I try to stop judging and ease into a style that feels loose and natural.