On the last Sunday of the summer of 1986, the day before I began college, I was on the beach in Daytona Beach, Florida, and ran into a guy named Tony whom I had casually known since ninth grade. I reflected with him on what I hoped to be and accomplish in my new era of life, the college years.
Tony listened intently, smiled and said I was going to do just fine. I was encouraged.
I went to bed that night tanned, somewhat muscular, and with long hair (okay, it was a mullet!), ready to conquer the world, eager to let the best of what was inside of me engage—and be engaged by—new community.
That first day of college I hit the “re-set” button, and embraced a new love for learning and a passion for scholastic excellence. I enrolled in the “Quanta” freshman honors program at Daytona State College. At the time, Quanta was an interdisciplinary mix of English, humanities, psychology, and biology. A very hip team of professors worked together and helped us draw connections between the manner in which ancient cathedrals were built; Carl Jung’s archetypes; the works of Plato, Sophocles, and Faust; and the intricate make-up of a living cell.
I’d hated science classes in high school and made mediocre grades. The Quanta version of biology didn’t dovetail as much with the other more liberal arts type of subjects, but these teachers’ cumulative enthusiasm inspired me to be interested in biology for the very first time. I began to see biology truly as a story about life—and life that wasn’t just art, writing, reading, philosophizing, etc., but the amazing orchestration of chemical, physiological, and neurological elements. The miracle of a flower, insect, animal, or mammal jumped out at me like never before.
You could say that I’d found my own bios; I’d come alive after years of under-performing in the classroom, and as a result made stellar grades across all of college and graduate school.
And one new habit I developed that first semester of college, one that has stuck with me ever since, is optimizing my learning and creating content through sketching visuals, diagrams, juxtapositions, paradoxes, etc., in order to see a larger picture and gain more clarity. In fact, I always have a sketchbook nearby.
Carrying a sketchbook everywhere you go can offer numerous benefits, both creatively and personally. Here are some advantages:
1. Capture Inspiration: Ideas and creative inspiration can strike at any moment. Having a sketchbook on hand allows you to quickly jot down or sketch these ideas before they fade away.
2. Practice and Improvement: Regular sketching or drawing is an excellent way to hone your artistic skills. Carrying a sketchbook encourages consistent practice and skill development.
3. Observational Skills: Sketching from life trains your observational skills. You become more attuned to details and nuances in your surroundings, which can enhance your overall awareness and creativity.
4. Stress Relief: Drawing and sketching can be a therapeutic activity. It provides a creative outlet and can help reduce stress and anxiety by focusing your mind on the present moment.
5. Documentation: A sketchbook serves as a personal visual journal. You can document your travels, experiences, and the world around you through your sketches, creating a tangible record of your life.
6. Self-Expression: Art allows for self-expression and introspection. Your sketchbook can be a private space to explore your thoughts and emotions visually.
7. Networking and Connection: Sharing your sketchbook with others can lead to networking opportunities and connections with fellow artists and enthusiasts. It can be a conversation starter and a way to build relationships.
8. Creativity on the Go: Your sketchbook provides a portable outlet for creativity. Whether you’re waiting for an appointment, commuting, or traveling, you can use your sketchbook to make the most of your time.
Overall, carrying a sketchbook with you can enrich your life by fostering creativity, self-expression, and personal growth. It’s a versatile tool that can positively impact various aspects of your daily life.
And by the way, you don’t have to be a “good artist or drawer” to get significant value and personal satisfaction out of sketching. I can barely draw a stick figure. Let sketching be whatever it wants and needs to be for you.