For today’s art challenge prompt of “sketchbooks,” I wasn’t quite sure what I would sketch. I’d already sketched a stack of sketchbooks for my 1,000 watercolor sketches post recently, so I was a bit lost as to what to do next. Staring down at my trusty copper Lamy Al-Star pen, I decided to just paint what I saw. A little blank page waiting to be filled with something. Of course, I had to use my trusty blue Lamy pen for this little urban sketch and grab a fresh sketchbook. But this is how I start every evening of each day after I get home from work. There’s nothing there on that white sketchbook page at all, often not even an idea of what should appear there. I’d love to say that since I actually write these monthly prompts, I’m prepared with an idea, but the truth is, I forget what’s coming next and show up just as surprised as anyone else. And even though staring at a blank page with artist’s block can be a bit daunting, I’ve learned that if I just wait a bit longer, distract myself with other things and come back, something will eventually appear there. And each day, for 1,047 consecutive days now, something always has. And that always makes me smile.
When I first started watercolor sketching, I was so absorbed and enthusiastic that everything came rather easily. You had to actually stop me from sketching every moment that I could. Now that I’m in my third year of daily painting, there are indeed days when I feel less inspired. Surely, I’ve reached a fabulous milestone and could take a little break right? But, I don’t sketch and paint to make masterpieces. I sketch and paint simply because no matter how I feel going into a sketch, it always makes me happy when I’m done. I feel a little sense of accomplishment, no matter what appears on the page. And showing up to ramble about it here after I’m done completes my daily art and recharges me for the next day. It’s become a little ritual and if I stopped, I know I would feel a bit of emptiness. The key is, I put absolutely no pressure on myself to produce anything of value at all. I’m absolutely thrilled if people enjoy my sketches and my writing, but it’s always just a happy side effect of doing something I love. I’ve literally surrounded myself with talented artists on this site, and yet feel no real need to make a comparison.
To me, each artist is so profoundly unique in what they make it’s absolutely impossible to compare. Even when they choose the same styles, their own personality shines through and transforms the sketch or painting into something singular. On this site, I feature famous artists alongside artists just starting their art journey. To me, each have something to teach us, and every one of them has something beautiful to share. There will always be those incredible masters to guide us, and my hope is that we can all stick together and continue to encourage each other along the way. Not everything we make will be the thing we hope defines us as an artist. But the act of making is the only thing that really matters in the end. Each attempt is another step closer to some level of mastery, a chance at making something wonderful. So, that’s why I insist on making something each and every day. And this is exactly what I remind myself on those days when I’m feeling less inspired and facing a blank sketchbook page.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Cobalt Turquoise, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!