My Love/Hate Relationship With Sketching

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I have a love/hate relationship with sketching. In all my years of making things, I've never been one to plan ahead. I just sit and let the supplies speak to me and go with the flow. But when I worked on my sewing book a few years back, my editor required sketches for every project. and then when I started working on my product line, the manufacturer required sketches as well.



I found the process intimidating and it made me second guess myself. I would have asked my husband, Patrick, to step in, he is the one who is good at all that stuff, but I forced myself to do it.

I learned that if I really wanted to be taken serious as an artist and designer, I HAD to relay my vision on paper. Otherwise, how could people know what I was thinking and seeing?

In many cases of being a professional crafter, companies are ready to invest money, time and staffing into YOUR vision. Unless you're JLo, you can't expect them to say "Just make something and we'll use it!" Heck, I don't think even she could get that kind of approval.

Pictured above is a sketch from my sewing book that didn't get approved. It hurt. But I had no choice to let it go and push myself to come up with something more fabulous. But you know what? I've come to love the process and embrace it.

Now I have several journals where I draw out ideas for craft designs and paintings. Sometimes the the sketch turns out to be the actual art piece! Even though it is extra work, I LOVE to sketch now. It calms me. It feels like I'm outlining a short story...There is always the eraser to fix the errors! I've since taken a couple online classes that have been very helpful and I've even graduated to drawing people!

Every time I think of an idea for a design for my column, product line, or personal artwork, I devote a whole page to fleshing out the concept. Kind of like visual brainstorming. I used to just write down my ideas, but sketching reveals new opportunities I never knew of.

I love that sketching exercises my illustration muscles and the engineering process, too. I love using markers and colored pencils to bring an idea to life. Sure, there is only a 50/50 chance my finished project will look exactly like the original rendering, but that’s OK. There has to be some kind of spontaneity, right?

Tips for sketching:

- Don’t worry if you can’t draw well. No one is judging. It is just a visual launching pad to get your creative juices flowing.

- Sketch everything, even if you know you won’t get to it for a while. When you are in a dry spell, you can just flip your book open and choose a project to make!

- If you see something you love at a store or on TV, sketch your own version.

- Keep a pencil pouch with an eraser and colored pencils handy.

- Keep your book close by at all times so you won’t miss any fab ideas!

- Make it fun. Practice bubble letters, doodles, flowers, shoes, hands, faces, and borders.

- Check out tutorials on YouTube to get the hang of "seeing" the basic shape in every object.

- Push yourself to practice. The more you do it, the better you'll get.

- Once you like a sketch you made, color it in with pencils or markers.

- When you finish your sketch, make the project to go with it!

- Keep all your sketches together in a book so you can see your progression.

- Make a portfolio of your best sketches, you never know who will ask to see them!

Crafts/DIY editor, Kathy Cano-Murillo, is the founder of CraftyChica.com and is the author of juicy craft-themed novels.

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