Sketching Under Challenging Circumstances

11:14 AM

Sketching New Additions To The Studio…
While Tired From Moving
If you read the prior post about 13 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Journaling and you kindly refer to number 12, you'll note that I mention every page will not be a winner.

When we're tired, stressed, sad, mad, distracted, worried or otherwise challenged, it's a bit much to think we're going to turn out pages we like (again, please note, I did NOT say pages that are perfect).

Does that mean you shouldn't sketch?

It means you absolutely should sketch. Quite often, when we sketch under these conditions, it becomes more about the process rather than the end result.

It also means you should manage your expectations.

When you know you're sketching under adverse conditions, set your expectations to match and then sketch away.

Do not mistake this approach for an excuse to sketch halfheartedly. Do your best even under these circumstances.

If it turns out not-so-good, you won't be surprised and you might just find yourself with a real, raw page that helped you process the emotion of the moment.

The sketch above was done after some intense moving and shuffling of furniture and all the shi...stuff piled around it.

I recently found myself to be the proud owner of two new-to-me oak printer cabinets. They used to store type and logo blocks in these cabinets. They're heavy, cumbersome beasts.

I'm thrilled to have all those fabulous drawers to stash supplies in. With any luck, I may just get organized! Oh, what a thrill that thought brings. (Seriously.)

However, I can't say I'm thrilled with the sketches above when I evaluated just the quality of the sketches and page. It's okay and it certainly hold a likeness of each cabinet. I'd like to think if I had not been so exhausted I wouldn't have smeared the ink and the page would have held more appeal.

Still…am I disappointed in the page? No. It wasn't about the end product so much as a record of the cabinets and the day.

Why not? Because it's a record of what as well as of the exhaustion. It's got grit.

Is it pretty? No, but then a lot of life isn't pretty. Instead, it's real.

It is more than a record of the cabinets, when we bought them and their sizes.

(It also gave me the opportunity to test drive an Eversharp nib seated in a Noodler's Flex fountain pen—more on this after I do a bit more testing.)

I haven't yet decided if I'll add color or not. It would go a long way towards making the page more appealing, but as is, it speaks to my exhaustion which is part of what I want to remember.

What's Your Approach?
Journaling can take many forms for each of us during our journeys. Sometimes, it's about the pretty page as near perfect as we can make it. Other times, it's about sketching because we're learning or bored or trying something different.

And then there are those sketches that come about under adverse conditions. As an example, I sketched in my MIL's hospital room because that was how I dealt with my fear and worry. We knew she wouldn't recover. Talk about stressed? Oh yeah.

I'd not trade those sketches for anything. They're not pretty. They do, however, convey to me what words cannot. It helped me to process the emotions of that time just as the sketch above allowed me to process my exhaustion…and my excitement to have these two cabinets.

Do you sketch under adverse conditions? How does the process change for you?

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14 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Great post Laure! I'm certainly envious of your new cabinets. I can totally relate to being exhausted, but I can't say that I've yet pushed myself to sketch under those circumstances. However, you're raising some interesting points. I think I need a little push right now to just "do it" regardless of the moment - too little time, too exhausted, not prime 'space', etc.... Instead, just make do with what you have where you are, including the amount of energy you have. I think your sketch will be a treasure as you look back on it. As always.... I love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Thanks, Claire. Life will always trump art—unless we stop and create. There are never "perfect" circumstances. Hope you find time and energy soon!

  2. Yes, I sketch in all sorts of conditions. Bored, inspired, tired, scared. It does help to sketch often. No matter what.

    1. Do you find it sometimes kills the fear and fatigue? I do. Not always, but sometimes.

  3. I hadn't drawn for years and I reached a point in my life where I just felt I needed to start or I never would. I gave myself a 'drawing a day for a year' challenge....and it worked. It was so hard....sometimes squeaking a drawing in before midnight, but no matter what the day threw at me or where I was, stubbornly I made a point of drawing something. I think everyone I know was relieved when the year was up. :D

    Did it work? Yes. I create almost daily now, shifting between mediums, often working on several things at a time.

    Did I learn anything? That I not only don't like keeping a diary, but journaling with drawings isn't my cuppa either.....but creating without deadlines or rules makes me incredibly happy. Also ~ wow, my drawings really reflect my mood and frame of mind. Looking over a year's worth of illustrations is like peeking inside my head for 365 days in a row. . As you said....the act of sketching/drawing/creating allows you to process emotions. I fully concur.

    1. 365 days?! WOW!! I am humbled, Pira. I've used a creativity calendar, but I missed days here and there, but like you, I found it very valuable for forming that daily habit.

  4. Laure! This is a beautiful sketch! And I envy your lettering ability! I concur with journaling all the time...even if it's only in my "idea" book where I keep everything from recipes to doodles to phone numbers, etc.! The only time I thought I'd be able to sketch but couldn't was when my DH was in the hospital for melanoma surgery. I just couldn't keep my mind off of him. So I kept sending him healing thoughts. He's fine, & will get his check-ups regularly now! But honestly, any other time my hands have to move or they start itching! ;)

    1. Ummm, thank you. I'm not thrilled with it, but it's a sketch…time to turn the page! I can understand not sketching under hospital circumstances. Scary times. Ours weren't scary so much as unavoidable.

      Thanks for compliment on the lettering. I've recently gotten back into pointed pen calligraphy and such. Not so much to do it properly but to find my own freehand style

  5. I unfortunately tend not to sketch while stressed or tired.. That is something I want to change. The lettering on your page is exquisite.

    1. Start small, Tyanne. Rather than a difficult subject, start with something simple. If it doesn't turn out, turn the page and give yourself a high five for trying and then try again. Thanks for the compliment on the lettering.

  6. I definitely sketch under adverse conditions -- fingers too cold to draw properly / car jiggling while Dale is driving it / dead tired / etc. BUT, if i can capture the moment, I have accomplished something. A perfect drawing doesn't need to be the goal.

    Other times, my fingers are warm, I'm comfortable, I've got time ....... maybe the drawing will sing and maybe it won't, but it'll never happen if I don't try.

    1. Yes, you take sketching under adverse conditions to an extreme, Elva! I feel like a sissy compared to you, so I shan't make that comparison, LOL! Love your last words, "'ll never happen if I don't try." Sums it up nicely.

  7. Laure -what beautiful writing and I am so glad even though you were tired you took the time to capture the excitement of new cabinets for your studio. There are times I confess when I am exhausted that I don't get my daily dose of sketching done but sometimes just mindless doodles counts for something too. Thanks for your thoughts my friend. Hope you have a great day.

  8. Thank you, Debbie! It's tough sometimes to pull up the interest to sketch, but I do agree that mindless doodles count.


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