100 Ways to Fill Your Sketchbook

100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Figuring out what to do when you sit down to create can sometimes feel overwhelming. Keeping a sketchbook is a great way to cultivate your ideas and turn them from seeds into something inspiring. I did that recently, as I set out to use the letter U 100 different ways in my art journal. Here’s 100 ways to fill your sketchbook, using just some watercolor squares, a pen, and one letter of the alphabet. And yes, you can do this too!

How to Create Your Own Challenge in Your Sketchbook

  • Set a goal number. This could be a goal for the number of art pieces, pages, or days. Make a goal that feels exciting, not daunting.
  • Set parameters. Define some simple parameters for your project. This might mean using certain materials or techniques. You may brainstorm your ideas before settling on one, or just go with your gut.
  • Pre-prep your sketchbook page(s).
  • Carry your sketchbook in your bag and use it.
  • Use your sketchbook project as a tool for generating art ideas, not as a way to strive for perfection. You are likely to get better art this way!

Here’s my parameters for my U project:

My idea was to use the letter U any way I could to create a variety of patterns. I loved the idea that a letter of the alphabet, which anyone who can write can make, could be the basis for art. Here’s my parameters:

100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling ideas, sketchbook ideas

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    Clearly, I ended up expanding past one page, but given my personality, I knew I would feel hemmed in if I set a huge goal, so I started small, and added as long as it felt fun.

    how to art journal, how to keep a sketchbook, art journaling supplies

    I’m a big fan of “flexible structure.” I set myself a goal that serves as a general guide, and I can change it slightly as I go along depending on what works for me.

    If you like this idea, but want some more help creating your flexible structure, check out my self-guided retreat: The Inspiring Sketchbook.

    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners

    There were a lot of different ways to stretch this idea.

    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas

    Look at all the variations! It boggles my mind how many different ways (over 100 in the end) I could use the letter U to make patterns. You can do this too. It just requires stretching your mind a bit.

    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas
    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas
    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas
    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas

    Coming Up with Ideas for Your Project

    When I struggled for ideas to fill more blocks, I started writing about it to brainstorm, talking to friends and family about their ideas, and looking in nature and textiles to see where else this shape was appearing. This led to new pattern ideas I loved. There is pleasure in giving yourself permission to dive deeply into an idea.

    For example, I noticed that a stone arch is an upside down U. Hair pins are squiggly U’s. Birds in the sky can look like a series of U’s. Sagging nets make U’s, and waves are a series of connected U’s. After a while, you start to see the connections everywhere, and it always boggles my mind how much nature repeats itself.

    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas, art patterns, pattern design

    After I reached over 100, I decided I was ready to move on, at least for a while. I’ve used some of my favorite U patterns on art journal pages like this one.

    100 ways to fill your sketchbook, 100 art journal ideas, best journal for art journaling, how to get better at drawing, art journaling for beginners, art journal ideas

    I hope this helps you create your own fun challenge in your sketchbook. I’d love to hear about your ideas in the comments!

    XO Amy

    28 Comments

    1. Meggan Keohane

      Thank you so much. Your suggestions are always simple and do-able. I am new to art journaling, but the inchie challenge helped me finally understand the process. Fo me it is like mini paintings that I can work on even if I only have 5 mins a day on a busy week. So thak you. You are amazing.

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        HI Meggan! YES – you’ve totally got my approach to helping people get started. It’s also a great way to get creating when you feel too pressed for time. I can’t wait to see this continue to develop for you! XO

        Reply
    2. Tacy Marsh

      What great ideas, Amy! Thank you!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        I’m so happy this speaks to you, Tacy! Xo

        Reply
        • Michelle Mickle

          After a few weeks or months?? I’ve taken this on and am having much fun. I’ve played around with the background colors because “They are the unimportant part” – says the gasping tight part of my brain. Of course, they have lent much to the process and because my focus is on the u pattern I’m finding more room to noodle and play with the color. I love it when I find I like a piece! My “art police” are exacting and sneaky- for now though they are napping.

          Reply
          • Amy Maricle

            Michelle – I’m thrilled this is working for you!! It’s great to work in series for all these reasons, right?

            XO Amy

            Reply
    3. Lita Doesken

      Love just looking at your work. Great suggestions to help stimulate myself

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Oh Lita, that’s great to hear! Have fun creating! xo

        Reply
    4. Elaine Rich

      It’s very cool!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Thank you so kindly, Elaine! xo

        Reply
    5. Lynn

      Oh wow!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        So happy you like it Lynn! Xo

        Reply
        • Carmella

          Thank you for this helpful suggestion. I teach a high school art class. We just recently made sketchbooks. I can see this as a good warm up.

          Reply
          • Amy Maricle

            Hey Carmella: Oh yes, this would be amazing with students – I can only imagine where they will take it! XO

            Reply
    6. Tania Guillaume

      Absolutely great! Easy and doable… my inner critic is astonished to see how it looks and I love how it feels light to do! Thanks for these suggestions!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        It feels light to do. YES> I like how you put that. Happy creating Tania! XO

        Reply
    7. Nel Wisse

      The more simple the idea, the better it works. You are the personification of those words.
      Thank you so much for sharing!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Nel – I’m thrilled that this gets you excited to create! XO

        Reply
    8. Almah

      Super-inspiring, thanks!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        YAY! So glad to hear it Almah! Xo

        Reply
    9. Kathy Peroutka

      Thanks Amy, I was just thinking about reaching out as to where to start, as I am finding myself overwhelmed as a newbie exploring art. I look at the different mediums I have, the different instructional books, the different paper I have, and think where in the world do I continue with what all I have started. True to my nature when I start something I dive right in, going wide in the experience, then overwhelm myself, back out, and may not continue. I knew you would know how to guide and simplify the process that I was overcomplicating. I personally like “S”, so am taking off with that letter. ThankSSSSSSSS ~~~~~~ Kathy

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Kathy – Thissssss issssss sssssso fun to hear! I’m thrilled that this concept speaks to you! happy S’ing. Tag me if you post so I can ssssse!

        xo

        Reply
    10. Emily

      So inspiring! And also manageable! I’m going to challenge myself to do something similar. Thank you, always, for sharing.

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Emily – I’m so happy this speaks to you! And I so appreciate you taking the time to comment too! XO

        Reply
    11. Lin Hermanson

      Never thought of U as such an interesting letter!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Hi Lin: HA! Funny right? I don’t know that I necessarily did either. I’m not sure I gave it a lot of thought except that I knew it could look like a letter or look like other things. It got me thinking of other good options: S, T, M, V, C, H, I, J, L….there are so many good choices. It was a great exercise to stretch the creative boundaries of my mind! I hope it is for you too!
        XO

        Reply
    12. cbdo48@gmail.com

      This is just great for the days when I need to decompressed ans simply play with my art supplies. It’s the perfect mindful practice and besides: 26 letters, 10 numbers….one can play a long long time 😊 Merci, Amy, for your wonderful creativity 🤩

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        So happy I could inspire! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Xo

        Reply

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