A new everyday sketch challenge

Screenshot of Liz Steel websiteLiz Steel has announced a new everyday sketch challenge. Just like many of us Liz struggles with sketching daily as the mundane can take over and squash creativity and sketching the mundane doubly so!

There are a number of everyday sketch challenges online but they all propose either drawing a thing or an idea. Probably one of the first and best was Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters Challenge. The EDM challenge suggested drawing things like a coffee cup, trees, tools, or bikes etc solid things – nouns in other words- that you go and find and draw. For me this was an activity that certainly helped establish a sketching habit. It is a good list of prompts but I never finished it.

Other lists have appeared online. Some have been too specific. I remember one list included a Canadian Goose. Now I live down under I have never seen a Canadian Goose and I don’t want to draw from photographs unless I have seen the thing and taken the photograph. I want to keep it real and sketch things I have seen in life not grab photo off the internet and sketch that.

More recently various online groups have proposed other everyday challenges that encompass illustrating a word such as “exciting” or “love”. These sorts of challenges leave me cold as I don’t want to stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and wondering how on earth I am going to illustrate “exciting” or “love”.

It sounds like I am bashing sketching challenges. I am not I love challenges if they fit my creative goals and I can fit them into my life. There is nothing quite like a good creative challenge to develop skills.

On her blog Liz has proposed a very useful list of generalized subject area prompts which solve many of the criticisms I have made. Each prompt actually groups together an aspect of the everyday under one topic heading, such as What did I wear? What did I eat? You can select from a number of subject areas and there are no rules as to how you use the prompts or how often you use them. These prompts aim to produce sketches that build a visual journal of a life and develop sketching skills. Do take a look at Liz’s list of prompts. I really like the concept behind it and I am going to adapt the idea and create a subject area list that fits into my life.

The second aspect of Liz Steels Everyday Sketching Project is that the sketches do not have to be finished completed drawings. This means a quick little ink sketch still meets the challenge. I am going to allow myself to practice any type of sketching. Currently since the Asia Link in Kuching 2017 I have been exploring collage and this has led me to using other media so I would definitely not limit myself to a particular type of sketch. Also I think the reason for the sketch to be done can be different. For instance I try different things in a sketch if I do a workshop or online class, am sketching for my studio journal or trying out new media. Urban sketching is on location where as nature journaling which I enjoy can be of a leaf or a feather I have picked up my morning walk and taken back to my desk to sketch.

The third aspect of Liz Steels Everyday Sketching Project is that she has designed a progress tracker that is an easy grid you can put in the back of your sketchbook that enables you to track your results. As any teacher will tell you, students need to see progress and this monitors what you have done. So if you have set yourself the goal to sketch everyday you can see if you have met your goal or if you need to gently pull back your focus to what you need to do meet it.

I am travelling at the moment so have lots of sketching inspiration but this challenge is adaptable and I will be able to do on the road in my travel journal and still use in my everyday humdrum life when I get home.

No doubt these subject prompts will grow, be adapted and shaped as time goes by but for the moment here are my list of subject prompts: (adapted with thanks from Liz Steel)

* Where did I go?
* What did I eat/drink?
* What did I make/use/buy?
* What’s is the pattern? Looking at routine and repetitive events and motifs.
* Unique events

On-going projects
* Drawing People
* Nature journaling my morning walk
* Exploring collage and mixed media
* Studio journal (for textile and embroidery designs)
* New art materials and tools
* Online classes

Well… thats my list for the moment. What would yours include? Let me know in the comments below.

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