Use a blue pencil and force yourself to draw

Grab a soft pencil and a blank paper. Draw. Right now.

Inspired by programmer Jamis Buck’s willingness to take on a new hobby every year (namely, to write 1,000 words a day), I decided to draw. I was tempted to find a pencil so I could draw and erase. No, I want to force myself to be free- to put ideas on paper, to “draw” those hundred words like Buck.
So, I drew. I kept wanting to place things in an orderly fashion or to start a new page with a new idea. Nope. Keep drawing. Pretty soon, is filled a page with badly-drawn lumpy computer desktops, abstract waves from the 1980s, magazine layouts with man eating a massive sandwich juxtaposed to the letters WO LVES, four rock band posters for my daughters room, and four website layouts.


I was frustrated the pencil became dull. I was frustrated at the lack of contrast from the light blue of the pencil to the white of the paper, but I kept drawing. I have myself the freedom to come back to these ideas and expand on them and this I was freer to not make these perfect right now.

Wallet Sketchbook – the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal

photo of a small journal sketchbook
Pantalic Traveler Pocket Journal

I recently found a great little sketchbook called the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal. I’m going to put credit cards in the back and use it as a wallet. Carrying keys, phone, Moleskine, and a wallet starts to make me look like a circus conductor with poofy pockets. How small is your sketchbook? discusses exactly that.

Any mention of sketching journals should always mention the awesome 1000 Journals, the project where people create art in journals and leave them in public places for people to find and continue.

How to choose a sketchbook. Great examples of using a sketchbook. It is killing me that CreativeOverflow’s website isn’t showing the images from their 100 Sketchbooks and Moleskines post.


Even though it is isn’t in a sketchbook, I found Michael Cho‘s work to be amazing. He has a book on sale called “Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes“:

Michael Cho's Comic-Styled work
Michael Cho’s Comic-Styled work

Now I just need a writing device use with the small notebook. I’ve enjoyed the Space Pen, but would always lose it because it was slippery and didn’t have a clip or ring. I’ve lost 3 so far! People say it doesn’t write that well.

The PicoPen seems to solve the losing part- it has a ring and a neodenium magnet to keep it connected. People say the Zebra F-301 Compact Pen is nice, but add the Signo 207 refill to get a better ink. Fisher sells the Trekker, but I think the ring is too large. The Titaner Ti Pen looks awesome but is too big. Hinderer Investigator Pen looks awesome but is out of stock and costly at $60.

I think I’m going to start using some shortened disposable pens and try out the Zebra F-301 or the X-Mark Bullet that has a clip.

Small and light as well as low cost.
Zebra F-301: Small and light as well as low cost.

Brian Green reviewed most of these pens and had a great idea to chop some disposable pens and shorten them to have something to take on the go.

photo of short disposable pens
Brian Green’s shortened pens

Creating cheap art

I recently bought a sketchbook to draw in. I am so used to digit design that the idea of a sketchbook that contains a bunch of rough drafts and bad examples frustrates me. In used to making something polished, something that is done.

When I publish a website or sell a product at my job, it is completed and finished. I need to learn again what it is like to be ok with art if it isn’t done.

I’m thinking of stenciling “second rate drawings” or something similar on the front to remind myself that a sketchbook is just that- a collection of sketches and ideas- not the finished thing.

Pulling out the sketchbook and offing in my backpack, I grabbed a simple mechanical pencil and suddenly I was making art. No creative suite 6, no quad core processor or 24 inch screen. Just drawing, I kept thinking how I don’t want to draw on the first page… because then each time I open up the book, I’ll see my first sketch, badly drawn as thought out. On second thought, maybe I should draw the worst thing I can there as a way to push myself to be ok with imperfection and being in process.

Reading about making graffiti markers with ink refills, shoe shine ink bottles and brake cleaner, I was again blown away how with only a couple supplies, you can make cheap art.