I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve been drawing again since last December. And for the most part I’ve been doing all my drawing in sketchbooks. The exceptions have been cards I’ve made for people, but other than that, I stick to the sketchbooks even though I have some really nice stand alone paper.

Tea, prompt from January 2016 31 days of drawing
A full spread I did in January for the 31 days of drawing class I took on Creativebug

Lisa Congdon recently wrote a post talking about how she uses her sketchbook and something in it resonated for me:

…[W]hat I make here is not for sale or for a client or for any one but me.

I thought about that line after reading the post (if you haven’t clicked the link, I recommend it, Lisa’s sketchbooks are incredibly beautiful and inspring). Having an art degree and then not doing art for about 13 years post graduate school, I’ve been thinking about what it means to make art to me now. Why is sketchbooking and the way I’m working now so important to me? And why am I so quick to stay there even when I’ve watched several classes take the same techniques and apply them to a larger, stand alone piece?

Circular pattern from the outside of the sketchbook
In progress pattern spread, I tend to do these when listening to podcasts or on airplanes and they are so relaxing.

The answer for me lies in the training I got oh so long ago in art school. The place where making money off art and being in the elite art community was the goal of most students. The place where professors rarely talked about experimenting, but you were constantly critiquing finished work. And that’s the thing; I don’t know that I want to think about finished work or selling work or being a part of the elite art community.

Full page of flowers and vines in blue and gray
This is a theme over and over again in my sketchbooks, I return to flowers and pen work when I'm not sure what else to do.

One of the things I’ve found fun and inspiring this time around is that I’m not feeling any pressure about what I create or how I create it. My sketchbooks are for me. They are experiments. They are play. They are to relax. I don’t make my living this way and to be quite honest, the thought of attempting to turn art into my living makes me cringe.

But I do love sharing my work on Instagram and here. I love looking at other’s work and getting inspired. Creativebug has been a source of constant inspiration to me and I’ve been getting books from the library to expose myself to other ways of drawing, painting, seeing.

Watercolor background with found objects drawn on it
I just learned this technique of putting down a crazy background with watercolor or gouache and then drawing the objects you "find" in it, it's been super fun.

As you can see from the spreads I’ve sprinkled throughout the post, I’m morphing and changing what I do in my books. I started with smaller sketchbooks and now I have 5 sketchbooks going of varying sizes. I’ve enjoyed going large (at least large for me) recently with a watercolor Moleskine that is amazing and with a Strathmore Mixed Media journal that takes gouache and water quite well.

Dark gouache background with light, bright pen work
Another stab at painting on a background and then trying something new, I used the Sakura Soufflé pens over the top and had a lot of fun.

So things aren’t staying static and I’m pushing myself into new areas and into new things, while also going back to my favorite motifs and size of sketchbook, simple ink drawings of every day things will always be a favorite.

Various sized bottles across the spread, done with shades of gray ink
This type of sketchbooking will never go away for me, it allows me to be wonky, to not care too much, and to relax.