I’m a strong believer in keeping a daily sketchbook.
I’m also a hypocrite. I often go days or weeks without cracking mine open.
Don’t get me wrong. I do a lot of drawing but the overwhelming bulk of my artwork is created for clients with strict guidelines and objectives that have to be met. Between commissioned work and the never ending slog of running a freelance business (emails, phone calls, bookkeeping, self-promotion, writing proposals, running errands, keeping a blog, etc.) its getting harder and harder for me to curl up with a blank page and sketch for my own study and enjoyment. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a professional athlete who plays hard during the actual games but then never has time to exercise or come to practice.
As a result I’ve started to feel a bit stale in my artistic development. I’m catching myself falling back on reliable tricks and habits rather than pushing myself to learn and grow. That’s a slippery slope towards creative death. So lately I’ve been forcing myself to get back into it and crack open the ol’ sketchbook more regularly. My goal is to do a page a day. Some days I make it, many I still don’t, but I’m determined to keep pushing ahead.
Most of my sketchbook drawings are not very cartoony. In order to be a good cartoonists I believe you first have to understand how to draw realistically. You have to have a solid grasp the real thing before you can convincingly simplify and caricature it. So when I sketch I usually study real people, real poses, real clothing, etc.
I also do a lot of very bad drawings (though I don’t have the courage to show them here). You can’t grow and improve without making mistakes and my sketchbook is the one place where I give myself total permission to mess up royally. If all my sketchbook drawings were perfect it would only mean that I was drawing things I’ve already mastered. That’s a great way to get stale fast.
Here’s a few recent sketches. Nothing in this particular batch is from life—all are from photos or video stills.