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The importance of keeping a sketchbook can never be emphasized enough. If you can get in the habit of sketching every day, you will undoubtedly see great improvement in your drawing. According to Walt Stanchfield, who practically wrote the book on Disney-style animation, “Quick sketching is the shortest route to training yourself for capturing those spontaneous gestures and poses that are so essential to good drawing”. It is important to keep in mind that visual journaling is the capturing of events in your sketchbook as you perceive them, in your own experiences. Draw your breakfast, draw your lunch. Draw your clothes wrinkled on the floor as you threw them just as you got home, and record your thoughts about the event.
Last year, I traveled to Hong Kong and Indonesia where I experienced many things that I had never before known. Everything interesting that I heard, saw and read I recorded in my sketchbook as I explored these new places, and today I have a collection of images that tell a story far better than any photograph because every line that I drew came from my own personal translation of the event.
I call this process ‘visual journaling’ because it is the combination of expressive sketching and in many ways you assume the role of reporter, sometimes I like to imagine that something I am currently sketching is something I have never before seen, like a visitor on a distant planet or far-away land.
Try and make a sport out of sketching, call it a mental exercise. You can use these sketches as reference for later finished pieces or allow them to be their own works to serve as reminders or a chronicling of the past. Feel free to write all over the page, try to use text as a graphic element; after all, letters are graphic symbols that we have trained our brains to ‘read’.
Resist the tendency to worry what others will think of your drawings or writings, these can be completely private, this is your own personal diary as an artist!
You don’t have to visit some far-away land to make interesting drawings in your sketchbook. Simply take a walk and find a street you’ve never gone down before, explore your neighborhood, have fun, and keep it loose!