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View from the Studio: Sketching to Create (& Solve) Problems

colour swatch testing jewelry design

i used to draw.

a lot.

when i was a kid, i loved it. in school, i was a regular in art class. for me, college was an art college. 

sketchbooks, scrap paper, binder covers. i made sketches for project ideas. i drew on canvases before i painted them. i doodled. i even made notes to go along with it all.

somewhere, that changed. journals don't have drawings anymore. maybe the odd doodle, but you're more likely to find photographs.

sketchbooks too, are mostly a collection of images.

jewelry design inspiration sea belt seaweed form dog whelk shell colour
I find inspiration on beach my beach walks and it is easy to snap a photo and keep it for later

it is so easy to come across an image that inspires or snap a photo with your phone. they are glued in my sketchbook with handwritten notes when i'm organized - but mostly they're just stuck between pages.

we have easy access to CAD programs. and tons of easy, free aps to lay out your house, your gardens, and even your chicken coop builds! and the aps come with handy information about what to plant with what, or what colours look best together. 

but when did i stop drawing? 

i think about forming glass, about moving metal and knotting fibres. and my first thought, quite frankly, is "just get to it".

drawing somehow became a waste of time. or at the very least, it has become an extra thing to do in a long list of things to do.

but i started to feel like i was missing something.

i remembered reading Austin Kleon's book, "Steal Like An Artist" and he talks about having an analogue and digital side to his office.

i picked the book up and gave it another read.

jewelry design process ink gouache sketchesthis process isn't about a formal rendering or creating an exact replica. it is about flipping through ideas as fast as you can sketch them out, about creating problems and solving them

i really believe that i'm more creative when i sketch. i believe that the act of sketching is freeing. there is nothing on the line. there is space and that space often creates problems, problems that are worth solving.

there is less fear of getting something wrong.

and that opens up space for creative problem solving.

that's not to say that the physical manipulation of material isn't necessary. seeing the positive and negative space, understanding a material's abilities and limitations - as well as feeling the weight and texture - these are all an important part of the process.

but so is sketching. to flush out ideas and work through potential problems.

sometimes sketches start in one place and lead somewhere completely different.

alternate necklace sketches handmade jewelry design

often, midway through the prototyping and/or making of the jewellery, more sketches happen. sometimes to solve new problems. sometimes to act as a spring board to the next design.

hidden clasp design inspiration reclaimed brass jewelry
tools forming reclaimed brass jewelry
sometimes you have to make the tools you need & the sketches not only help me decide on form but also think through other problems - like how will i achieve the form i want with the tools at my disposal

but time. ahh, time. 

Dr Seuss quote time

it can be hard to stick with this sort of thing. admittedly, it is easy to talk yourself out of taking the time to sketch.

i found sketchbox and started using that. they often send items i would never have chosen to buy myself. i love the variety and i now have a collection of media that i'm excited to sit down and sketch with. 

but it might not be inspiration for everyone and whether you find a art subscription service, walk into an art store and buy one thing every month, or riffle through your kids art supplies, i urge you to try. 

next time you are planning to cook a special meal, or you find a new knitting pattern you want to start. the next time you sit down to write in your journal or are planning to put a planter box by your front door, why not try a sketch?

take the time to free up your mind just that little bit. approach it however you like - do an internet search for images, colours, and textures that inspire you. or try using Sunni Brown's tips for doodling in this Fast Company article. pull out that new marker you've been dying to try. or grab that great blue-green crayon from the colouring box.

whatever it is. you might just find that you'd like a different colour vegetable on the plate than your usual go-tos. you might realize that you want to knit with a different type or texture of yarn. you might find that it is fun to stick a doodle in your partner's lunch bag.

or, if you're lucky, you might just have a few minutes of creative freedom to get you through a long day.

jewelry design process sketching inspiration


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