Creative Block Breaker

Here’s something I want to share with my fellow bloggers and beyond, especially the artists and artsy types.

I was having a slow day at work, and I wanted to doodle something quickly into the small sketchbook I keep next to my computer. However, I had no ideas in my head from which to work from. I looked at the blank page, thought to myself “Oh No; Blank Page!”, and without giving it a second thought, I spilled the whole notion onto the page.

The result was raw, impulsive, and productive. In a manner of minutes, I went from having a blank page and no idea of what to draw, to having a page of hand-drawn typography, illustrated elements, and a concept to work with. Looking at the end result, I wrote down “How fast can you shut up a blank page?”

We’ve all read countless articles about breaking the creative block, and without going into which suggestions work, this little exercise in “shutting up the blank page” works for me. I refer to my smallest sketchbooks as “ugly sketchbooks”; they’re where I let ideas and thoughts initially escape my head and land on paper for the first time, in raw form for further evaluation. These sketchbooks are not where I do highly refined, post-worthy, professional level work; they’re where I plant seeds to see if an idea is viable, and also what other thinking is sparked now that the thought is visual and not just mental.

So here’s the challenge: how fast can you shut up a blank page? How fast can you grab even the most remote thought in your head, place pen nib to paper, and doodle quickly and recklessly until the thought is visualized? Chances are the end result will be sloppy and not represent your “best work.” However, if you assume that opening to a blank page will spark that perfect idea for the perfect drawing, you may be in for a long and futile wait. That perfect idea may really just be a thought that is raw, rough, below the obvious surface, and only needs to be fearlessly extracted and ruthlessly visualized at first so that it can eventually develop into post-worthy, professional-level work (or at least, something that you’re really happy with!)

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Bedtime Drawing

While I don’t fancy myself a children’s book illustrator, sometimes kids say things that beg to be drawn. While helping put a friend’s kid to sleep, we told him that we had to tuck him in extra tight because it was very cold outside. He suggested that we should cover him with blankets that reach up to the roof. The notion was so cool that this image popped into my head and I had to scrawl it into my sketchbook as soon as possible. When faced with a creative block, talk to young kids; they’ve got some pretty interesting things to say that can spark some interesting thinking!

I’ll be posting infrequently until the end of December, returning to regular posting in January – too many birthdays, holiday parties, and things of the sort to work around. I do want to take a moment to thank all of the followers on this blog – all 200 of you! – for taking the time to click onto Sketchbook Warrior. I’m usually updating this blog very late at night during the 25th hour of the day, so I definitely appreciate the time you take to visit my blog, look around, comment, or simply click Like. Sketching and illustration is a big part of my life, so when I get the time for a WordPress session, I truly look forward to checking out all of the awesomeness in my reader and interacting with all of you.

– Jason

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Urban Sketch

Here is Eli’s Restaurant, located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. Eli’s is DC’s best kosher restaurant, where the food is meaty, the prices respectable, and the waitstaff friendly. Though the bottom floor of the building where the restaurant is located didn’t fit onto the page, my focus was the upper floors, which showcase the antique-style house architecture of Washington, DC – a beautiful style that clashes with the increasing number of sharp and gaudy glass and steel office buildings in the area. I did this sketch in about 45 minutes.

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Metro Sketch

Here’s an individual I sketched on the Washington, DC Metro, at least until somebody boarded the train and blocked my view. I try not to get annoyed at people whom do this; they don’t know that I was drawing the person they stepped in front of, and I don’t want to be noticed sketching anybody in the first place. Such is the life of the urban sketcher on a busy commuter train; you’re engaged in many relationships, of which you are the only person whom knows about any of them.

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Retro Sketch

Drawn in 2006, here’s an individual I spotted and just had to draw; horribly obese, motorized wheelchair, and oversized soft drink cup. No judgements passed, just one of those things that if you happen to spot on a day when you have itchy pen fingers and are looking to draw something, then this sight just pretty much launches itself onto a blank sketchbook page.

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