There's no shortage of sketching prompts available on the internet, often monthly lists to help you keep up with a daily sketching habit. Both Sketchbook Skool and Doodlewash (from my Sketchbook Revival course) send me these now. I scan the words and for the most part, don't see that many that I would want to spend my time drawing. Sometimes the list looks interesting and I print it out, only to let it get buried and go unused. For some reason, I decided not to let that happen with Doodlewash's September prompt list, deciding to use a sketchbook my cousin sent me because although I love the leather cover it is slipped into, I don't like the moleskin paper at all and so have not used it but twice. Very thin and even light pencil shows through to the backside and from the next page. But good enough for this.
I set up some rules for myself, kind of combining the Doodlewash practice (draw in pen then add color a little like making your own coloring book) with the Random Words doodling practice (doodle in pen on a post-it note for 10 to 15 minutes then stop). I'd work small and quickly in pencil, only adding colored pencil if so inspired, nothing fancy, and draw from memory.
That last one kept my sessions short - a few minutes to 15 at the most. Put a thing in front of me, even just a picture to draw from, and it turns into an hour long session of getting everything right and including all the details. I decided I'd been doing enough drawing the last few years that surely I could envision these things on the list clearly enough to do a simple sketch of them. Cups, shoes, I'd drawn 31 of each during Inktober months. I'd learned how to draw a dog in profile from one of the Sketchbook Revival teachers. Time to test the memory.
And test it I did. Sometimes the simple sketches came easily. Other times I was surprised at how difficult it was to remember enough about a thing to draw it recognizably. "Skin" and "buttons" on the page above were more challenging than I expected. Stairs too although I'd been playing with them in my water series sketchbook.
There were times when I couldn't quite get a part of a thing right like the railing on the one set of stairs. I knew it wasn't right but I didn't know how to change it to make it right. I might look at it later and see immediately how to fix it. But that wasn't part of the rules, going back and correcting. It was enough that my brain had worked on the problem without me and now knew what to do about it, stored away for next time.
I stayed really basic with drawing the prompt only, not building a story around it like some response to a quilt challenge theme (as I saw Mr. Doodlewash doing). But I did often sketch multiple ways to portray it, or different images when one word represented more than one thing. Pots like the ones used for cooking followed by a terracotta garden pot, multiple kinds of vegetables. Soap in different shaped bars, and then soap all bubbly. Human eyes, eye of a needle, eye-bolt. It can be fun to play with the English language.
Even these rules and tricks would have failed, though, if not for perhaps the most important thing I did, and quite by accident. I put the sketchbook on the futon couch in my office which made it the first thing I saw when I entered that room in the morning to check my mail on the computer. It stopped me up short, reminded me I had a sketch to do, and because I knew it would only take a few minutes, I sat right down and did my sketch before turning on the computer. Out of sight, out of mind; in your face, more difficult to ignore.
This is one daily habit I would continue if it were not for Inktober starting tomorrow. I have a whole different idea for daily sketching the Inktober way and it won't be quick. But I am looking forward to working with the theme I've chosen. Then I hope to remember this sketchbook and return to filling it with simple daily sketches.