Using Sketchbook to Balance Digital and Physical Art

Sketchbook - Why it is so darned important

The name of my website may be “Digital Art Teacher” but I feel that actually working with your hands is very important. Being the only art teacher of a small school, I teach graphic design, fine art, and photography. While there is definite satisfaction in creating an awesome graphic on my computer, the pride I feel in using my hands to draw or paint or make clay creations is a feeling that no mere computer mouse can give.

Even if all I have time to do is sketch out a few ideas before I crack open the computer to work on something, that allows my brain to work through the ideas before the mouse hits the screen. That is what I ask my students to do as well.

I feel that the sketchbook is vitally important. I have both my fine art and my graphic design class keep a sketchbook for this reason. Even if they were a complete computer junkies and only ever created digital art, I would still tell them that they need a sketchbook.

It is my challenge every year to bring students to that conclusion as well. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

The main thing that I have found to help students at least appreciate the sketchbook is time and repetition. I have them write down 10 different ideas of ways that they could solve the problem that I have set out for them, and then make 2 to 4 quick sketches of some of those ideas. Over time, they come to realize that their first idea is hardly ever the best idea.

The other thing that I do is to keep a sketchbook myself and make it visible to my students. Again, I know how limited the teacher’s time is, but even if I only have an hour a week, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, it can make a difference. It also serves to fill up my creative storehouses, too.

Do you keep a sketchbook? Do you have your students keep one? How do you manage the assignments you give? Comment below!