Back in high school, I had an art teacher who would always stress the importance of quick sketches, although it was a concept too incomprehensible for my perfectionist mind to grasp. He would flip through my sketchbook and shout, “More! More sketching! More, more, MORE!”
Each page of my sketchbook held a completed illustration, clean and precise, suspended in the middle of white space. He would thrust my book back to me and demand 100 sketches by the end of the week. Each of my drawings took at least a day, depending on how detailed they were…and now he wants a hundred in a week?!
My friend and I would scoff at his idealism, as we continued to craft complete illustrations while making random “sketches” to turn in, only to be erased afterwards and replaced with a finely tuned drawing. Rough sketches did not belong in my sketchbook. They were ugly and embarrassing, a swamp in the middle of my Rivendell.
I may not have understood the importance of sketching back then, but now I do.
Flurries of pencil scratches, whirls of pen strokes crossing one over the other, quick quick quick! Ideas taking shape in a mass of whispered lines and heavy marks. Ink drops on paper, escape! Charcoal smudges, but who cares! No one is here to judge, no one is here to talk. Get it done, get it out, and go go GO!
There is exhilaration found in swift sketches and simple doodles. Freedom seeps out of your pencil to become something more than abstract thoughts in your mind.
My ideas have been trapped for far too long, growing fat from sitting around in comfort. I need to throw open the curtains, push the door open on its rusty hinges, and herd my thoughts outside to freedom.
It is scary business to venture out of the folds of comfort, to test the waters of the Strange and Unfamiliar. But I know that I cannot become the illustrator I want to be if I don’t take that first step. My art yearns to tell the stories and ideas sitting somewhat impatiently in my head; it craves to become something more.
Ever since February of this year, I have diverted my attentions to the art of doodling, and I am so thankful to have continued along this path. I went from hesitantly doodling to embracing imperfect lines with a childlike earnestness. And now, just a few days ago, I felt a young bravery plucking at my heartstrings, telling me to pursue an unexpected idea that blossomed suddenly in my heart.
See here, I was in the midst of posting on my day job’s Instagram Stories, when I started to think how delightful it would be to do little doodles with my finger. It was not in the aesthetic of the company I work for, so I dismissed the idea. It came back to me full force later when I realized, “Hey! I might not be able to do it for work, but I can do it for Wondershins!”
The next morning shoved the opportunity right at my chest. It was a rainy and grey sort of morning, but there was a feeling of peace and thoughtfulness that came with it. I wanted to capture this moment, this feeling, but I had to work – the day must go on! I took out my phone, opened the Instagram app, and I captured the moment in ten minutes.
I finally understand what my art teacher meant when he wanted us to fill pages and pages of our sketchbooks with nothing but sketches. Never focusing on perfection and finished products, but rather, the journey of becoming a better artist. To grow your craft. Grant the ideas and the stories in your head a form, a reality, and a purpose.
Study, understand, improve.
For the past few days, I have been more creative than in years of trying to fit in more time to be creative. I don’t have to rely on a pad of paper to draw; I can stop where I am standing and take out my phone to create an imperfect illustration that will never be something more than a little thing that caught my attention and sparked my imagination. But somehow, by giving it recognition, I have allowed it to become something more.
The freedom of loose sketches has given me happy doodles to share with my people. Little bits of my feelings and thoughts on display. Sometimes I forget that this is the reason why I love to draw. Illustrations speak the words that are playing Hide-and-Seek inside me and allow me to connect with others.
Now, I find myself pausing during my day to do quick illustrations. Whatever comes to mind, I put finger to phone. I find myself growing a little more comfortable with each doodle, and discovering different ways of making it better.
The best part is that I can now draw these ordinary things in my life without overthinking it. It used to seem silly to spend time on a piece of artwork that didn’t have years of storyline behind it. Who would want to see an illustration of a cup of coffee, anyhow?
However, I learned that the beauty of it lies not in the mundane object itself, but the feeling that seemingly insignificant Something can give me – energy, warmth, comfort, a genuine smile.
Now, I’ve given mere moments a reason to exist. They served their purpose to brighten my day, and I only hope that they can brighten yours as well.
You can follow along with more happy doodles on my Instagram Stories here!