How did I do all that sketching?

By Aneesah, 10 May 20

My old sketchbooks

Sometimes parts of your life feel like another lifetime. For me, one of those parts would be the years that I spent in a local private school after returning here (from the US, where I was born). I was around 5-7 years old and don’t remember a whole lot about it now. (Trivia: my husband was also a student in the school, my classmate!)

The other part of my life that feels alien now would be the years spent studying in the UK. I guess current circumstances are just worlds apart from those young, carefree days! Ha—I say that while also remembering the academic and emotional struggles I faced—especially in my (uncompleted) second degree. But overall, the experience was positive: I learned tons about sisterhood, faith, maturity, the different seasons, different cultures and systems… and even honed some of my sketching skills.

How did I start sketching?

I think it was mostly for school (we took AS Art for A-Levels, before starting degree level). As a personal hobby I don’t think I properly practiced until my teenage years: I used to draw Harry Potter fan art from photos and imagination, some with traditional media and then in MS Paint and Photoshop. I don’t think I was very good at drawing people at all!

The sketches in the video above are more of “urban sketching”, drawing on the spot, in a live setting, of what’s in front of you. I was inspired by a lot of blogs by UrbanSketchers, impressed by how beautiful and stylish sketches can be even though they were done in a short amount of time with limited tools.

I have a few blog posts with sketches in them, but most are posted on Facebook because it’s more convenient. My style is a bit more detailed and literal than I would like, but I’m happy to report that I do see progress in the method I’ve used, over time. My best results seem to be using waterproof black pen (Mitsubishi uni-ball, so hard to find here now!) and a small set of Winsor & Newton cake watercolours with a brush pen filled with water.

Sketching tools
Favourite sketching tools

Do I still sketch now?

Yes, a little bit. I do enjoy it a lot, it’s just, understandably, difficult to find the time / energy / quiet space to do it at home with kids. (Most of my me-time would rather be spent napping, reading, Facebooking or blogging, like right now!) Traveling sometimes makes sketching easier because it means there is someone else available to look after the minions.

The reason I haven’t shown flip-throughs of my later sketchbooks is because almost every page has kids’ scribbles on them! My own pages are few and far in between, and likely also stained over by the work of tiny hands. But who’s complaining, right? 😛

Would I encourage sketching?

Absolutely. Especially if you’re in a stage and place of life that you don’t want to forget—sketching really puts you in the moment, helps ground all of your senses. And inshaAllah you will always have the sketch to look back upon when you are older, and wonder how you managed to have so much time and put in the effort to keep such a habit!

Even if you’re not very good at it, or you’re not an artist or designer: it’s OK! You can be the one and only member of your audience, and it’s still worth sketching. I find that there’s just something about creating with your hands that benefits the mind and soul.

What do you think?

I think...