Drawing (Almost) Everyday in May

I participated in Articulations’ FILLER Up Sketchbook Challenge, currently in its tenth year this past month! The challenge encourages you to do something in your sketchbook everyday for the entire month. I just finished another sketchbook near the end of April, and thought it’d be a fun and visual way to document Spring this year. 

I’ve participated in the challenge with friends since 2017. Oftentimes, we would make a trip to Articulations to spend an afternoon flipping through other sketchbooks in a reading nook of the store. It was always refreshing to see how others approach their sketchbooks, and heartwarming to receive colourful post-its in yours in between pages of drawings.

Here are some observations from my experience this year:

Keeping my sketchbook nearby prompted me to pick it up more often

I specifically purchased a small, softcover sketchbook to fill up during the month. In previous years, I never finished a sketchbook cover to cover before the drop-off dates in time for the exhibition. While I understood the purpose of the challenge was to encourage the cultivation of creativity in your daily life, emphasizing the importance of process rather than product, I wanted to push myself to fill up the pages completely this year. Keeping my sketchbook opened and within arm’s reach on my desk at all times provided a visual reminder of my commitment. 

Showing my process helped with motivation

In addition to the general goal of filling up all the pages, I wanted to stretch myself further by showcasing my real-time progress in an unfamiliar way. I posted a few pages once every few days with various textures in my park as the background. Even though no one was keeping track, it felt rejuvenating to hold myself accountable by seeking out new locations to film, which in turn helped me gain momentum week after week. Instead of creating works on individual pages, I naturally adjusted my compositions to take up the entire spreads. However, I was also careful not to let the pressure of showing my work override the joy of my process.

Making a mess became a source of inspiration

As soon as I received the sketchbook in the mail, I made sure to make a mark in it, whatever it was. In my case, it was someone’s background in a virtual group discussion. I knew if I didn’t familiarize myself with its pages, the blank pages would trick me into seeing my sketchbook as more of a chore than a playground. I carried that mindset throughout the month — whenever I was stumped on not knowing what to draw, I’d make a mark with whatever medium I wanted to and allowed the mark to guide me through the rest of the page. I didn’t restrict myself to a specific theme or media, and wasn’t afraid to make a mess. Some of my favourite compositions were full of trials and errors! 

A sketchbook spread, with the left page consisting triangular magazine pieces, and the right side a black outlined drawing of an interior space.

Overall, I am very pleased with all that I experimented with in this sketchbook! The challenge created a goal for me to incrementally work towards, without worrying too much about the process. The little sketchbook encapsulates snippets of my activities and snapshots of conversations in the past month in a playful and visually engaging format for me to look back on in the future.

Due to current COVID restrictions, a window display of participating sketchbooks is replacing an in-person exhibit. They may also do several sketchbook flips on social media! Stay tuned to see which spread I decided to display.

Articulations is a local art supply store situated in the west end of Toronto, who believes in the power of creativity and the joy of making art. You can view others’ works on Instagram with the hashtag #FillerUpSketchbookChallenge, and stay updated with the summer exhibition @articulations_to. Sketchbook lovingly handmade by Debbie, purchase yours here!

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