October Sketch Challenge

Drawing challenge

I’ve always wanted to get back into doing some kind of artwork. Years ago I went to art college to study Ceramics and loved the accompanying life drawing classes. It gave me the opportunity and freedom to explore the use of line and shapes with charcoal. I was never very good at the detailed stuff, plus, ‘I can’t sketch’ This is the story I’ve been telling myself for years. This way anytime I think about doing any drawing I can say, ‘I’m no good at sketching, never have been’ or ‘I don’t have room/paper/charcoal/inspiration…..’ you name it, I have an excuse.

During Lockdown I felt the need to do something creative again, but again I was telling myself the same story. I was looking for the perfect setting, the perfect thing to draw, the right medium to use etc – not very much actual art was produced – well Zilch! So this October I decided I would set myself a challenge. I would draw every day for a month.

The idea was to just draw. It doesn’t have to be finished, polished, complete, it’s just about making marks on paper with something. It allowed me the freedom to explore something creative again.
I started with a tentative drawing of an apple. YES! I’d made Day 1 complete.

Each day, as I went out for a walk, I found I was already starting to look at the environment around me differently. What could I draw? What colours or shapes inspired me? I took some photos along the way to use later, but, more importantly, I also took my sketch book and pencil everywhere with me. This was key to putting my plan into action. Have the tools you need at hand.

Day 4 into October was StreetDraw 24. A project in Falmouth to raise awareness of the homeless crisis and support St Petrocs charity. I signed up (in the last hour!), now I had to draw something. I’d delayed all day, so time was running out if I wanted to submit my drawing. I found a place to sit just around the corner from The Poly and started to sketch. Two girls were sat on the step in front of me chatting and that seemed to be a good subject matter. I started with the handrail to their side to get a little scale into my drawing. At this point they got up and moved on! Oh, now I’ll have to draw the buildings – so I did. I submitted my small, scruffy pencil drawing at the same time as others were handing in beautiful, multi-media large pieces of finished art work. Each piece was handled with the care it deserved while all I wanted to do was drop and run! A few days later, I received a message from a friend to say ‘Well done. You’re drawing is on the wall at The Poly’.  WOW! I was so glad that I made the effort to take part in this. It was lovely to see all the variation in art that was exhibited. I will continue onwards.

As the month continues, I’m finding that I can be completely engrossed and forget about my surroundings: people pass me by, I don’t notice that it’s getting cold or I get caught in a rainstorm as I didn’t notice the black clouds coming over. An hour seems like a few minutes. I have focus, concentration and Mindfulness. I’m lost in creativity (see my previous post about getting lost please).

Throughout the month my drawings have changed. I’m amazed at how quickly this has happened. I’m not saying they have improved but that I have developed different themes as I’ve grown in confidence. The addition of people is noticeable about mid-way through the month, perspective comes in more, I’m going back to previous drawings and adding background details or shading. There is more content on the page, but I have also started to just play with particular details like the handrails as a study. There was never any pressure to complete a masterpiece it was just about the art of doing/drawing.

I didn’t draw every day but I did achieve it most days. For me the biggest learning that I have taken from this is that my challenge had the desired effect of getting back into a routine and habit of doing/thinking creatively every day. It has given me moments of stillness and focus in my day. I feel ok about my ability to put pencil to paper and create something just for me. I have changed my story.

Sketch Challenge focus