This year was the third year I had done the Articulations Fill'er Up Challenge and every year I find myself walking away having learnt something new, and something about letting go.
In my first year doing this challenge, I tried setting a prompt every day and doing a full illustration based on it. It was a mess. An incomplete, absolutely dreaded mess.
The second year, I downsized my sketchbook, and filled each page will just doodles. It released me from the fear that came from completing a full illustration and allowed me to do whatever I wanted within the safe confines of my sketchbook.
This year, I downsized again. I decided that as much as I loved what my second year had shown me, I wanted to refine my abilities, and so I focused on finishing smaller drawings instead of just doing mindless doodles. The first few spreads of my sketchbook this year, a small, pocket-sized, red-covered moleskin, are filled with single pages of little clowns. They were fun to design and fun to imagine. Some were fishing and I imagined them saying things like, "Hullo there, I'm on holiday you see." Another one had a nervous expression and wore dungarees so I called them a student-clown. The last one I drew was a clown wearing a party hat wearing flashy office attire and doing a little jig. I think that's what I look like when I go to social events with loud music.
A few pages after that, I was inspired by a game called "Snipperclips" that has simple geometric shapes under some simple line work illustrations. I started each page by filling up a grid of mindless, coloured shapes. Then I'd start at the top and try to find an interesting way to create something out of those shapes. I never did it as a kid, but this is what I imagine cloud-gazing must be like.
I found that these pages were both the most fun and fulfilling approach I had when tasked with filling up a sketchbook. Quite frankly, sketchbooks can be quite near and dear to an artists heart and being forced to fill it up sometimes feels like being told to spin gold out of a room of hay when it wasn't possible to do with even one strand of hay to begin with. Because the shapes were so mindless, there was little pressure to start, and finding fun ways to fulfill those shapes became something of a game. They're not all gems, but it was a stressful time and this revived the part of me that looked to a sketchbook of fun.