The spirituality of sketchbooking

Over the years of sketchbooking I’ve noticed a few things about sketchbooking.

The main goal of sketchbooking is to increase our ability to observe the world around us (A common misconception is that a sketchbook is a place to increase your drawing ability. While you may find yourself increasing your drawing ability as you go, save that focus for another time).

Catching the simple, everyday things with which we are all familiar, yet take for granted is a part of our impetus for being artists in the first place.

Yet, that’s not far enough. I’ve seen a lot of sketchbooks and art that captures unusual or thought provoking scenes, yet the art still leaves me feeling depressed. I don’t want to look at art like that. There’s too much great stuff going on around me to voluntarily import depressing thoughts and feelings into my life.

Some of the most uplifting things happening are found in the darkest, most frightening places: the ex-convict who returns to prison to teach other convicts how to overcome their addictions; the orphan who marries, and then loves his or her spouse and family; the war-torn refugees who still love their country. There’s magic everywhere, yet we have to tune ourselves into it.

A sketchbook isn’t just a place to observe: it’s an opportunity to observe beauty.