Most of life is made up of a series of very ordinary moments. We work. We prepare and eat food. We shop. We care for family. We exercise. We wait. Often these moments come and go with us hardly noticing them. We don’t remember them and we give them very little thought.
But after participating in Sketchbook Skool the past two months, I experience ordinary moments differently. Sketchbook Skool has encouraged and inspired me to sketch anything and everything, no matter how ordinary and no matter how good or bad the sketch. It is not about creating art with a capital A to hang in a museum. Instead, it is about the process and how it transforms how we experience our days. It is about pausing and paying attention. It is about transforming looking into seeing.
When I sketch an ordinary moment, it registers differently in my brain. Instead of getting lost in the sea of other ordinary moments, it now stands out as unique, and somehow more special.
My first assignment in Sketchbook Skool was to draw a piece of toast. The assignment was not about creating a realistic looking piece of toast. We were to observe it closely and draw what we saw rather than what we expected, recording each little air pocket and nook and cranny. As a beginning sketchbook artist, this was incredibly freeing to be able to completely let go of accuracy and any expectation that my toast would look like toast.
I happened to complete this assignment the night before my daughter went back to her ‘home’ high school after spending a semester away in northern Wisconsin at Conserve School. She was both excited about seeing friends again, and nervous about reintegrating. She coped by making her lunch ahead the night before. I grabbed her sandwich to use as the subject for my sketch.
It isn’t a great sketch. It’s not even a good sketch. But nonetheless, I love looking back at it because even a quick glance brings back lots of memories that otherwise would have been lost.
I have also found that sketching can transform ordinary moments into moments with deeper meaning.
I recently took one of my teenage daughters shopping at Goodwill. While I waited for her to try on clothes, I sat on a stool at the end of one of the aisles. To pass time, I sketched the rack of shoes in front of me. As I sketched, I began thinking about the shoes. What adventures have they been on? Who used to own them and who would buy them next? How would their lives become connected through these shoes? And so, an ordinary moment that otherwise would have been filled with nothing more than bored waiting transformed into a memorable moment contemplating stories that weave people’s lives together.