5 Ways to Fill Your Sketchbook

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Recently I’ve been feeling really tired. It’s nothing serious, just a short-term adjustment happening in my body, but really trying, nonetheless. This week, when it was time for me to do my Wednesday Art Chat where I share tips and tutorials on art and overcoming the inner critic, I knew I needed to offer something, but also to nourish myself. I want to share with you the insights about how I make art when I feel uninspired.

This is a simple, fun exercise that helps get my creative juices flowing, and makes me feel more grounded and light. It leads to lots of new ideas for my sketchbooks and art journals too. I’d love to hear what your experience is with it in the comments, and be sure to grab the free workshop at the bottom of the post too!

Make Marks in Your Journal

Let the lines and marks wander across the page and explore the space like the line is on an adventure.

  • Practice making thinner and thicker lines,
  • Drag the pencil or pen lightly
  • Make it thicker or thinner

Vary Your Pen Grip

  • Hold the pen super loosely, like you might drop it
  • Use a death grip
  • Hold it in your non-dominant hand
  • Hold it from the top or close to the bottom

Use a Variety of Mark Making Tools

Give Yourself Permission to Make a Mess in Your Sketchbook

Lately I’ve been writing in my journal: I’m tired. That’s the whole page. That’s it. And you know what? That’s enough.

Not every sketchbook page should be beautiful. In this age of social media and constant comparison, I think we get a false idea about what an art journal or sketchbook should be. A sketchbook can help you improve your art skills, but it can also be your friend. Your art journal can be an excellent listener. Give it a chance.

Using the mark making method, I can make a mess of the page, and at the same time, make order of my feelings. Funny how that works, right? I think the trick is giving yourself permission to make a mess in your journal.

Making a mess can be good for my feelings, but it’s also good for my art, because in this loose, anything goes state, lots of interesting marks and patterns can pop up.

Make Different Types of Marks in Your Sketchbook

  • Continuous lines: Let the line explore the space of the page
  • Short lines, long lines, skipping lines, jagged lines, fat and thin lines
  • Circles, openings, pods, leaves
  • Write whatever comes to mind in your non-dominant hand
  • Write in giant looping, overlapping handwriting so it’s more of mark making than text


Get the Mark Making Workshop for Free!

You’ll also join the Mindful Art Studio mailing list:

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    Mindful Art Tips

    • Slow down – Pay attention to the gift of the materials and time to make marks
    • Notice what appears on the page – see when the lines start to skip, get darker or lighter, overlap, and create shapes
    • Notice what your body feels like, where it feels warm, loose, tense, straight

    I’d love to hear how you do with your mark making, be sure to drop into the comments!

    Creatively Yours,

    Amy

    12 Comments

    1. Denise Moravek

      Thanks for all your tips I find them really motivating

      Reply
    2. Nicole

      Loved this post, especially the warm introduction.😊 I must say I will try to make marks without thinking about the outcome. I do this with paint studies and sometimes interesting things happen and you end up with a really cool painting!

      Reply
      • Amy Johnson Maricle

        Hi Nicole

        Oh I so appreciate you taking the time to comment and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post suggestions. Xo AMY

        Reply
    3. Ana María

      Gracias gracias por tantas ideas que nos inspiran.

      Reply
      • Amy Johnson Maricle

        Gracias Ana Maria por escribirme y avisarme que te inspira. Es un honor. XO Amy

        Reply
    4. Aline Gaubert

      Hi, Amy,
      I so appreciate your “Making art when you’re tired. I’m sorry I can’t inspire you today…..”
      I’ve been traveling to England for a funeral and complained to you that I couldn’t be creative. You said make marks, and I did on hotel stationary with a ball point pen!
      I love everything you write for us. Thank you for taking the time to help us express our inner churning selves. xxxx

      Reply
      • Amy Johnson Maricle

        Aline!!! YES!!! YES!!! Our inner churning selves DESERVE the outlet, and will pay us back in spades when we keep showing up to make art no matter what, even on hotel stationary, bar napkins, and the back of envelopes. I so appreciate knowing that this helped. Thank you for taking the time to tell your story and I’m sorry for your loss. XO Amy

        Reply
        • Aliya

          I used doodles to calm myself before wisdom teeth abstraction.

          Reply
          • Amy Maricle

            WOW – what a great idea!!! xo

            Reply
    5. Claudia Salinas

      I just found your beautiful website and the tips you give to all of us. I always wanted to have a personal art sketchbook to express myself. Now I am exploring my Art again, after many years.
      I have a condition where I cant be expose to stress, thats why I decided to create a blog; I started to feel joy again! and I am so happy that I foung your blog 🙂 :)… so much inspiration!. Thank you!

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Claudia – Art journaling has been such a strong and positive force in my life. I hope it’s that for you too! xo

        Reply

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