Monday, April 13, 2020

Every Kid Needs a Sketchbook!

Does your young artist have a sketchbook?

When my children were growing up, they filled a lot of sketchbooks, sketch diaries, and drawing journals with their personal artwork. I recently found a stack of these sketch journals in a box in the basement and realized I had only seen the pages that they had personally shown me, so most of these pages were completely new to me! I had (and rightly so) treated these as my children’s private journals. And now I’m delighted to see so much free-flowing creativity, idea exploration, and visual playfulness in their work. It has been like watching my kiddos grow up all over again!

If you don’t have the sketchbook habit going on at your house, here are some great reasons to start:

1.    Sketchbooks provide a no-pressure avenue of free-flowing creativity. No assignments, no deadlines, no one to try to impress or please. Perfection not required.

2.    Sketchbooks are entirely for child-directed ideas, growth, and progress. They encourage self-reflection and improvement as ideas are worked and reworked. Often, sketchbook ideas can be seeds for bigger things; rough drafts to be developed into amazing art pieces or other major projects.
3.    Sketchbooks are a private place (like a diary). There are no rules, criticism, or grades. The sketchbook is experimental and loose; ideas are entertained and discarded, or revised and developed at the artist’s whim. 

4.    Sketchbooks promote drawing practice, which improves drawing skills that can be monitored by the child as (s)he reflects on earlier work. Progress is a source of pride for an artist of any age.
5.    Sketchbooks cut down on loose paper. The sketchbook is a great way to organize original work and self-expression in a self-contained volume, which can be kept safe forever. Date each volume and reflect on them any time in your growth as an artist without having to search for lost drawings.

6.    Sketchbooks are portable. My children took their sketchbooks everywhere: to the park, the zoo, the museum, or the living room. Sketchbooks are perfect for on-the-spot observational drawings! For a day trip, make it a habit to pick up the sketchbooks and drawing supplies along with the packed lunch, water bottles, and sunglasses. What a child might choose to record in his/her sketchbook is up to them. They might add the finishing touches (like additional details or watercolor or ink) to a drawing of a dandelion or a water tower or a zebra at the zoo when they return home.

7.    Sketchbooks aren’t just for “sketching.” Use sketchbooks for experimentation. Try new materials and media, such as collage, printing, watercolor, and mixed media. The process of creating will dictate whether to move on with a particular media outside of the sketchbook.

8.    Sketchbooks provide a great alternative for screen-free time. The sketchbook provides a place decompress, relax, and let one’s thoughts flow freely. 
9.    Sketchbooks are for everyone! Talent, ability, nor experience matter when using a sketchbook. All humans benefit from having a place for self- expression. Drawing ability is not required to fill a sketchbook – also great for collage, watercolors, mixed media, and – whatever!

10.Sketchbooks are about independence! Sketchbook activities promote thinking, planning, and creating independently. With readily available art supplies, a sketchbook provides child-friendly, accessible opportunities for independent learning and self-discovery. 

Are you convinced? Great! Does your child have a sketchbook?  If not, you can purchase one or use any bound book or tablet with blank unlined pages to start. 

Otherwise, a sketchbook is easy to make at home. All you need is copy paper, thin cardboard or poster board, a ruler, a hole punch, scissors, and some twine or yarn or a few brass paper fasteners. You can find our printable instructions here: How to Make Your Own Sketchbook.

Next we'll figure out what to put in our sketchbooks!

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