Monday, May 23, 2011

Start a Sketchbook Group of Your Own

Having an online group, like the delightful friends participating in Sketchbook Challenge, is a serious morale booster. But it's also nice to have a real time group to share ideas, challenges and triumphs. I've started a group at my library and we've been meeting for a couple of months now. It's easy to start a sketchbook/art journal group of your own. Here are some pointers.
1. Set a regular time to meet. We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursday nights.
2. Find out what the group wants and what they would find inspirational, and structure your group around their ideas. Check in every once in awhile to see if it's still working and to get ideas from new members.
3. Bring prompts. This is very easy to do. I have a few ideas written out ahead of time and bring one key idea to share. Sketchers can try it or do their own thing instead. These thumbnails are from an exercise called "Through a Viewfinder," where we thumbed through magazines, isolated a square and drew what fell within it. Look online for drawing techniques or cull them from books like Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim and Water, Paper Paint by Heather Jones. Your library has LOTS of great books with art ideas--so visit a librarian today!
4. Try new supplies. There are many el cheapo art materials you can share to try something new. Last night I brough some boxes of oil pastels ($5.99 at Michaels but use your 40% off coupon!) and we tested those out. They were way outside the comfort zone for many people and what better for a group experiment?
 5. Remember that your sketchbook is for PLAY and relax! Nothing particularly fabulous comes out of our sketchbook sessions, but we gain IDEAS for further exploration when we can spend more time creating.
There are others out there just like you...all you have to do is find them. Kelli


  1. I have tried three different times to get an In Real Life (IRL) group together for art journaling. I got one together that limped along for about 4 months. I am discouraged. I want to do it, they can even meet at my place and use my goodies...I don't want a group of people to teach OR a group that I have to persuade to show up...I have tons of ideas on what to do once we get together, but where do you find the folk? The eager, can't wait folk? I'm in Colorado just in case and eager-can't-wait-to-get-started art journaler is out there...

  2. I was lucky to meet a wonderful group of friends here in NYC who love to sketch and visit museums. Everyone in the group is reliable, which I know is not necessarily the norm. I wonder if there might be some meetup groups for journaling that would help get people together in various areas.

  3. It was great having the public library sponsor us--you might ask yours if they would be affiliated with an art group. That way the library does the advertising and sponsors the group.

  4. Lori Wosti, if I lived near you I'd be in your group!!! I live in a sparsely populated area, but the artists-per-capita is probably higher than most rural areas. I may send some feelers out to see if there is interest. Thanks for the directions, Kelli. I LOVE the viewfinder exercise!

  5. I am also in a sparesly populated semi-rural area in AZ...and the people I know do not do any type of art. I know they all think I am some sort of oddball for getting into it so much and spending so much time/energy/money....sigh...Oh well. I am quite happy on my own I guess but it would be fun to have a group to get together with and brainstorm with. In the few other type groups (quilting) I have been in, there have been some unpleasant group dynamics that in the end, made it impossible to continue on with them. Solitude wins out for me every time.

  6. If anyone in Toledo, OH wants to be in a sketch group I'm recruiting. Contact me at It's my (public view) art page and has my email if you can't message me on there.
    I'd suggest not replying on here because I probably won't remember to check back.


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