A few weeks ago I went swimming with some friends at a nearby greenbelt. I brought Weetzie and let her roam off leash (I try reeeeally hard to be a considerate dog owner, and think I do better than 98% of other Austin dog owners, but sometimes I'm an asshole) and she did AMAZING! She stuck close to us and had perfect recall if she wandered a little too far - especially when I rustled the bag of chips, hehe.
Weetzie doesn't love to swim, so after I got my fill I got out and sat next to the water so I could hang out with her and keep her nearby with snacks. I happened to have a brand new, empty sketchbook with me - a smaller one, 48 pages (I've included a link at the bottom of this post). I had gone to the store and not found the kind I was looking for (the Midori a5 blank - also linked at the bottom) so I bought this cheap one as an interim.
I started drawing my friends in the water. I wanted to document everything around me - the beautiful plants, the ropes hanging from the tree branches, the other people and their dog who were sharing our swimming spot, the monarch butterfly sitting on some flowers, etc...
The more I drew, the more I noticed. I was so relaxed, I didn't want to do a detailed, accurate observational drawing - I just wanted to chill, have fun, and to capture the feeling of being there with my friends.
I also happened to be in the middle of reading Syllabus by Lynda Barry. I love her mindful approach to drawing, letting go of any criticism and letting the images flow from your hand with as little thought about technique as possible. She and I share a love of "naive" drawings, and the mission of encouraging adults to draw, especially those who haven't done it at all since they were kids.
I realized I could fill the entire sketchbook with drawings from that afternoon. My friends were happily swimming, going nowhere for awhile. I had a beer and some chips and endless inspiration.
I wanted to share these drawings with you guys not because they are beautiful, but because I want to inspire you to try this method of meditation and documentation. Mindfully observe the world and create images that evoke memories. Practice telling your inner critic to shut up. Allow yourself to make "child-like" drawings. Try to access that feeling of drawing as a kid - it was fun and relaxing. It wasn't about skills, or likes on social media. Can you turn off the critical voice telling you your drawings look like shit? Can you access that feeling of no pressure when drawing? What would it feel like if you spent a few minutes every day in that state of mind?
Andy really hit the nail on the head with this week's episode of Creative Pep Talk. One of his first tips on tapping into your creative joy is to make bad drawings. Don't try to make something good. Make bad stuff until the good emerges organically. Learn to recognize the "good" in "bad" drawings. Learn to have fun during the process of drawing, not just in the aftermath of admiring what you made. There is a unique energy to drawings created in this state of mind.
I'll definitely be buying more of these 48 page notebooks to take with me when I know I'll have some time to fill them up in one sitting.
The links below are affiliate links, so I get a little bit of money if you use them. If you have access to buy these items from a local shop, I encourage you to do so. I think the description of the Midori notebook is so funny. "Ruled line free" - as in, free of ruled lines. A blank sketchbook. Hehe. If you enjoy smooth paper with hardly any tooth, you'll love the Midori paper.
I'd love to see your sketchbooks full of quick observational drawings! Share them with me on Instagram by tagging me @noelkalmus.