I can’t be too precious about my sketching, or I get stuck. For the longest time I was working in a sketchbook that had a coffee ring, and a half-removed label on the front cover. The ugliness was sort of reassuring; nothing too pristine to live up to. Somebody said that inspiration does exist, it just has to find you working, so I just get down to it. I don’t go back to my sketches until it’s time to make them into real patterns in Illustrator or Photoshop.
I start in the middle of the page, sometimes with a rather non-committal line, and then I see where it goes. Frequently I won’t have any idea where I’m headed. Then I do this thing that I call “committing to the page”; whatever comes, I commit to fill the entire page with it. This helps me work out how I want to draw the motif, or find other motifs that go, or even to find the one shy zinnia in the bunch! Patterns begin to emerge as I make up little rules for myself; odd numbers of pink stacked triangles, interrupted by no more than three stacked green triangles for example. (The colors are only placeholders! I tend to grab a color at random, another trick to stay unstuck.) Some days I don’t like the page I created because it didn’t turn out the way it was “supposed” to, but months later I rediscover it, and find charm in the wonkiness - however unintended.
Last year I watched one artist on Instagram fill up a page a day in her sketchbook. Her motifs are entirely adorable and uniquely her own. It occurred to me that this is another sort of pattern setting; finding your own style; sort of creating oneself as an artist. So this year I’ve begun my own sketch-a-day practice. In a brand new sketchbook! And lest I devolve to drawing more silly flowers, I’ve devised a system to choose inspiration at random from my Pinterest feed.