Find Time for Creativity With Art Before Breakfast and Other Books

Image: Chronicle Books
Image: Chronicle Books

It pains me to draw, to sketch, to doodle. I’m not one of those people who ever passed the time doodling while in class or in a meeting. If I’m drawing anything, it takes all of my creative energy and attention, so I’m definitely not paying attention to anything else. I’ve always been envious of those who draw with ease, and those who actually enjoy it. Part of my non-enjoyment of drawing is a self-fulfilling prophecy, though. The more I draw, the better at it I am. And I’m reminded to keep at it, to not give up or continue to resign myself to be bad at drawing, by books such as Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are.

GeekMom Lissa recently included this book in her impromptu-and-useful-and-inspiring tweet series, which she turned into a Storify story and a blog post. She recently finished filling her first sketchbook. I’d like to emulate her efforts myself, and have been encouraged to begin.

But how?

1. Get a sketchbook. Check. I have one. I’ve drawn a few things in it. But there are only about eight pages full, mostly with things for other purposes. But, I have it.

From Art Before Breakfast. Image: Chronicle Books
From Art Before Breakfast. Image: Chronicle Books.

2. Begin working my way through Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory. Full of exercises but not a step-by-step guide, it gives you examples of places to find opportunities to make art. The airport. While you’re eating walnuts. While looking at pencils. Using Post-Its. Of course, it helps to have your materials with you all the time, to take advantage of the little moments. But it’s also full of advice for how and why to include art in your life, which will add more beauty and richness to what you already have. Art helps you notice the small things. It helps you appreciate what you have and forces you to slow down your pace of life, even for just a few minutes. Consider it a form of meditation, if you will. Also full of humor, the book is a joy to read while you learn. And it’s dedicated to someone named Jenny. Not me, but I have yet to meet anyone named Jenny who I didn’t like.

From Art Before Breakfast. Image: Chronicle Books
From Art Before Breakfast. Image: Chronicle Books.

3. Utilize my other art-inspiring books, such as How to Draw a Radish and How to Draw a Cup of Coffee. These books I obtained a couple of decades ago in the hopes that I’d start doodling. Yeah, it didn’t work. But never stop trying!

4. Keep finding sources of inspiration, such as my children’s drawings, books like 20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers, and other books in the series. I’ve been wanting to try this book out for a while. I’m horrid at drawing people, for example, but I can do flowers, trees, and birds more passably. Begin with my strengths!

5. Finally, don’t expect perfection out of myself. If I can just improve the resemblance of what I draw to what I am trying to draw, I will have succeeded.

I am successfully creative in many other ways, but enjoying drawing, and doing well at it, have always eluded me. But I won’t give up. And neither should you.

Note: I received Art Before Breakfast for review purposes.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.