Sketchbook Magic II: Inviting the Muse | Ria Sharon | Skillshare

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Sketchbook Magic II: Inviting the Muse

teacher avatar Ria Sharon, Practice Makes Better.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Practice 1


    • 4.

      Practice 2


    • 5.

      Practice 3


    • 6.

      Practice 4


    • 7.

      Practice 5


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Are you looking for inspiration? This class is for you if you want to cultivate your art as a means of self-expression, to hone your craft as part of your professional practice or if you simply want to connect with your right brain! Artist and illustrator, Ria Sharon shares five simple sketchbook practices that keep you engaged with your art and creativity.

In this follow up class to Sketchbook Magic, learn simple and enjoyable activities that will fill your creative well. Also, join thousands of other students in the Sketchbook Magic community that have found encouragement and support for their art through Ria’s magical approach.

Follow Ria on Instagram and sign up for Secret Sketches, her free weekly behind-the-scenes/inspiration email.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ria Sharon

Practice Makes Better.


There is no path to mastery that does not involve doing something over and over -- that's been my experience as an artist and illustrator!

So I encourage my students to take small consistent steps by creating bite-sized classes that make art a simple, easy, daily practice -- one that is joyful and fun!

I occasionally post what's in my own sketchbook on a brand new Instagram page. If you're interested in what goes on in my art-making process behind-the-scenes, join my private Secret Sketches group. That's where I share things that are not ready for the interwebs yet. :)


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1. Trailer: Whether you want to cultivate your art practice as a means of self-expression, or to hone your craft as part of a professional practice, or simply engage in an activity that brings you joy and enlightens you, I invite you to join me for Sketchbook Magic II. In this class, I'll share how to find inspiration or more appropriately, how to be ready for when inspiration finds you. I make art every day. This seems like an obvious choice if you're an artist, you know, to make stuff. But that was the problem. For a long time, I didn't feel like an artist. I didn't think of myself as an artist. In my 20s, I stopped making art. It took another 20 years in a wake-up call for me to look at the reasons that I was using to avoid making art. That I didn't have time, I didn't have space, I didn't have the resources. This was the focus of my first Sketchbook Magic class. If you missed it and you're just beginning to explore art, or some of my reasons feel familiar to you, I encourage you to start there. My name is Ria Sharon. I'm an Artist and an Illustrator. In this follow-up class, Sketchbook Magic II, we'll be focusing on techniques that I use in my now ongoing art practice, to stay engaged with my creativity. We'll be going over simple, gentle exercises that you can use when you're feeling stuck, or that wildly self-doubt that I've come to discover is part of the creative process and perhaps part of being human. Not only do we have five brand new video lessons that you can watch in less than 10 minutes a day, and I invite you to watch one video every day for the next five days. We have these new lessons, but we also have an opportunity to connect with a Sketchbook Magic Community, which has now grown to thousands of students who are fighting support, encouragement and yes, magic here. Another thing that we're going to be doing that we did in the first class, is will be making art together. We'll be sharing and reflecting on the experiences as they unfold. Are you ready? I'm so happy that you're joining. Click Enroll and we'll get started. 2. Overview: You may know my story from the first Sketchbook Magic class, how I had all of these reasons for not making art for so long. Then I just made a commitment to make art anyway despite those reasons. What I discovered were my hidden fears behind all those things that I was telling myself. Perhaps you can relate to this, or maybe you can relate to taking just that one step towards a more creative life and feeling the floodgates open. This class is for what happens next. I share some techniques over the next five videos that are the ways that I stayed motivated and inspired, and how I turned that initial rush into a sustainable part of my life. I hope that you can use them too so that you can continue to grow as an artist and hone your craft. My practices have become like a roadmap for me, guiding me to my next step and the next. This class contains my secrets and where to find inspiration, or more accurately, how I prepare myself for when inspiration finds me, and she always does. What will you need to have on hand for the next five days? Your favorite art supplies, so things to draw with, pen, pencil, ink, crayon, oil pastels. Things to paint with, gouache, acrylic paint, whatever you want. Things to draw and paint on, paper, canvas, wood, cardboard, fabric. These are all options. Once you've collected the things that you want to explore with, meet me back here for the next video and we'll get started. 3. Practice 1: Practice number 1; warm-up exercises. So let's say you want to run a marathon. I've actually never run a marathon, so this is probably the worst metaphor to start off with, but a lot of people do them. So you runners, tell me if you wanted to run a marathon, you wouldn't just wake up the very next day and do it. It wouldn't matter how long you'd been run a or how determined you are, it just wouldn't be a smart thing to do. You would have to train and you would have to prepare. The idea of warm-up exercises actually came to me because I was listening to my daughter, who I take to voice lessons. The first 10 minutes of every lesson is devoted to warm ups, just stretching the vocal cords, nothing too complicated. I started to think to myself, what would that look like for my art? What is something that I could do on a regular basis that isn't herculean effort, but I know that just through the discipline of doing it on a regular basis, I could improve? I pick a medium and commit to making something every day in that particular medium for a period of time. So as an example, just recently, I picked ink because I was curious about it and I'd seen other artists and illustrators get some really great, bold, confident results with it. What you see here are my five-minute daily sketches in brush and ink. Some of them, I really loved, and others I didn't. But at the end of 30 days, guess what? I'm a lot more confident using ink than I was before and now I'm actually starting to incorporate it in some bigger projects. Here's your assignment for today. Pick a medium and commit to making a sketch in that medium for the next week or so. Once you have done with your first sketch, go ahead and start your project, go into the Classroom, go to the Gallery and click on Start project, give your project a title, upload a picture, and then while you're in there, give us a little quick introduction. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're hoping to get out of this class experience, and then click Save. To make this easier for you, I've created a list of prompts that you can download and print. Feel free to come back to this practice anytime and often, this is why I call them practices, it's all practice. In fact, I suggest adding the prompts to your magic bowl. What's the magic bowl? The magic bowl is a technique that I use to work past creative blocks. So whenever you're unsure of what action to take in the creative process, the magic bowl can help you out. Here's what you do. Download the PDF I've included in the class project tab called Prompts, print and cut it into strips, of course, if you don't have a printer, you can just write them down. Load up your bowl with all the possibilities you want in any given situation, so in this case, it's what to draw. But you can use it in other situations too, like helping you pick a medium or helping you determine how much time to give yourself every day. Then, you simply draw a slip of paper from the bowl. It's really magic. I'll go first. I picked coat. What's the point of these exercises? Actually, there are several. We already know practice makes better. We're building muscle memory here with your actual hands on tools, with materials. We're getting to know the tools and language of our craft. When the muse pays you a visit, you'll be able to translate your vision into physical form. This is also capacity building. My dear friend, Jen Lemen, had a Rwandan saying she would repeat like a chorus, [inaudible] , which means, be patient. Sometimes, inspiration takes a long time but when she comes, what she gives you is complete. You have to have the capacity to catch it and hold it with a straight back and open arms. I love that image so much. The strength and the confidence that you build as you do these exercises will serve you well. Some other ideas for warm-up exercises, you can paint your palate, so take every pigment you have and see what range of colors you can recreate by diluting it or mixing it with other colors. Two, you can experiment with tools and mediums. In this case, you can see how I've done the same subjects several different times. So pick a prompt from your bowl and make it a few different ways. Three, copy. Yes, I said copy. For the first three years of all classes I took, all I did was copy famous paintings out of books that my instructors brought to class. I wasn't trying to be original, I was just seeing if I could make what I made, look like what they made. But later when I had my own ideas, I knew that I could make a flower petal look a certain way by using certain paint with a certain stroke and with that brush. So it's really okay to copy someone else's work, as long as you're not trying to pass it off as theirs or as an original of yours. In the privacy of your sketch book, this is practice. You know what to do. Get to it and start your class project. As a bonus step, follow me on Instagram and tag Sketchbook Magic. I'll be doing regular roundups on my blog and on Instagram. See you later. 4. Practice 2: Practice number 2: Connect with your joy. This practice I learned from dancing. Dancing would probably be a much better metaphor for me to use because I just picked it up a couple of years ago. So I'm still a beginner. Partner dancing can be kind of challenging because you have to sync up with another person and the music. In this improvisational like non-choreograph kind of social dancing, you have to stay really present. Something my partner and I started doing, so we didn't end up being super frustrated with each other, was to start our dance sessions with a song we both knew really well and that we danced well. So we felt good about ourselves. It made us want to dance more and reminded us in a really tangible way why we were doing any of it. This is what today's practices all about, reconnecting with your joy. What is it that made you fall in love with making art in the first place? There are lots of things that we have to do in life. We have to pay our taxes, we have to brush our teeth. This is not one of them. This is an I get to. I really want to encourage you to remember that this is fun, this is like a privilege, especially for people who do creative things for a living. If you're a graphic designer or an illustrator, I really, really want to encourage you to protect a piece of your art that's just for you. I asked myself again, "What does this look like in terms of my art? What is it that I love to draw or paint?" For me, it happens to be birds. This is a really great technique. If you're in a farm, can you just have this feeling like you want to skip it for today. Don't. Just pick something that you love to draw. Go ahead and press pause on your video, gather up your supplies, get your go-to subject, and come back, and we'll do some art together. Don't underestimate how important it is to feel confident about your work. I took an emotional intelligence class once and the researcher was talking about how our brains are wired for negative thoughts. It's like an evolutionary survival thing, right? To look for danger and avoid it, to look for what's wrong and fix it. His point was that we have to consciously force ourselves to focus on the positive, to counteract the negative thinking, something like six times to one. So in my first-class, I talk about fear. Well, you know, fear doesn't go away just because you decide to make art, sorry. But the good news is, courage isn't the absence of fear. It's making choices that move you towards your goal despite the fear. As an artist, I have to cultivate practices that create fear, resilience, okay, otherwise known as courage. Fear doesn't paralyze me or so that I don't make choices from a fearful place. That's what we're doing with this practice when we reconnect with our joy. When you feel yourself shift and settle into your body and relax and when you feel that your piece is ready to share, go ahead and snap a picture and add it to your project in the class gallery. You can go back to the classroom, click edit in the same project that you started for the last practice and add today's sketch to it. Again, you can share it on Instagram with #sketchbookmagic. 5. Practice 3: Practice number 3, artist's dates. This is an idea that's straight out of the book, The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. She prescribes taking yourself on a weekly artist's date. No worries if weekly is a little much, it's not an all or nothing thing. The concept behind the artist's date is to break you out of your routine. It's a great way to get ideas, to be open to new experiences, and gives you great fodder for your art. My most recent dates have put me in the rare books collection in the botanical garden in the middle of winter making terrariums at the public library. I'm not sure I would have done any of those things if I hadn't had that assignment for myself. We all have natural patterns, and if we don't make a conscious effort to get out of those patterns once in awhile, they become like deeply worn ruts. Your assignment for today is to look for opportunities to stretch, to do things that you wouldn't normally do. The public library has great free events, checkout their calendar, check all the event calendars in your area. If you have trouble deciding on something, use the magic bullet to help you pick. Take your sketchbook on your artist's date and your camera. Notice things and note them. Note the colors, the textures, interesting little facts. What are you curious about, and drawn to? You can stop the video here and schedule an artist's date for yourself, and we'll reconvene afterwards. How was it? Once you've collected at least a page full of sketches from your artist's date, go ahead and post them in the gallery. While you're in there, add your reflections. What about this experience was appealing to you? What was not? Trust that nothing is wasted, that all of this input will be great for your art, not just for your art really, it'll provide richness for your life. Once you make this a regular practice, you can have a treasure trove of ideas to draw from, and a record of what your perspective is on those ideas. That's it for today. Of course, bonus, share your discoveries on Instagram as well with the #sketchbookmagic. 6. Practice 4: Practice number 4, Honor the Seasons. To everything there is a season, cliche but true. This practice is probably the most challenging for me because I would love nothing more than to be productive all of the time. But unfortunately, my muse does not work that way. The magic of honoring the cycles is in the fact that you're acknowledging that you're not alone in the process, and this is something bigger than you. You don't get to demand inspiration. You don't get to control inspiration. All you can do is invite inspiration, and then you show up every day and just be ready to give your idea, physical form. My own creativity and productivity has a natural ebb and flow. Rather than forcing the issue, I've had to teach myself to honor this natural cycle. One, there's spring. There's the time for planting the seeds of new ideas and preparing fertile ground for them to grow in. Two, summer. There's the growing season when things are exploding everywhere and it feels like new ideas and projects are popping up every second. Three, fall. There's the harvest where you start to collect and gather what you've grown. Of course, winter. The time to hibernate and rest and store up for the burst of energy required again in the spring. Your creative seasons are not necessarily tied to the sun's rotation around the earth, but they might be. This last year, I had a big spring last Christmas that lasted for months. You might also feel these cycles happening inside of individual projects. I've gone through winter, spring, summer, fall in the span of a week. It's really helped me to tune into my creative cycle and not get frustrated when nothing seems to be growing. Because it's not that nothing's happening, it's just, it's my winter and everything is happening deep underground. We want to cultivate right action. Those activities that are appropriate for whatever season you're in. Today's activity is going to be based on your creative cycle. I have a PDF in the classroom called creative cycles. You can download and print it or make your own. You know what to do with these. Take a few deep breaths, tune in to what season feels right for you today and then place those prompts in the bowl and pick one. I'm definitely feeling fall, so I loaded up the ball with my fall prompts and I got, count the things you've made. Of course, it's just what I needed. I have a tendency to get really caught up in my to-do list and taking a few minutes to appreciate what I have actually accomplished in the last few months, feels really good. I find that this is inevitably the case when I surrender to the magic of the prompts. This practice has been an essential one for me in cultivating self-care, which is important for everyone, but I do think especially for artists, because the creative process requires so much vulnerability and trust. When I do this check in, I'm more balanced, more energized, and actually more productive even if my marching orders are telling me I'm supposed to take a nap. Now, you might create completely different list for your seasons. Trust that they are correct for you. Once you've completed your activity, share your reflections in your class project. That's it for today. 7. Practice 5: Practice number 5: Calling it in. This practice is my absolute favorite. When you're ready for your next creative project, you can actually call it in. What does that look like? Exactly like it sounds. When I'm ready, I say out loud, "Okay inspiration, I'm ready. What do you have for me?" I've been showing up everyday, honing my craft, connecting with my joy and open to new experiences, had been honoring the creative process. So I've been doing my part, and if you'd be so kind as to do yours and send me an idea, any idea will do even a bad one because I'll make it anyway to make way for the next one. Please send me a sign of what it is, what we can do together next. Then you wait. Last year, the nudge came in the form of a holiday card I got that made me think hand lettering could be fun. I signed up for Mary Kate McDevitt class, which led me to create my entire line of principles that then led to a retail partnership and a project with Operation Shower. About a month ago, I made my same requests and I got to post on my Facebook wall inviting me to participate in a local group show. This is also how I started teaching on Skillshare, believe it or not, I was wrapping up another project and I got an e-mail from these culture team wondering if I would consider teaching a class. What's interesting that is earlier in the year, I've made a list of experiences I'd like to create and one was teaching online. So yes, when you are ready for a new creative project, you can actually ask for it and then listen and pay attention for the answer, magic. Rituals are a powerful component of this request, I think, and it's also super fun. So I've created the bones of a letter to inspiration that you can download and print and fill in with the details for yourself. This is your assignment for today, and of course, feel free to make it pretty. Glitter is always good. Then send it off to be received by your creative partner in a way that feels right for you. You can scatter it in a stream. You can leave it in the nick of your favorite tree, add it to a bonfire, place it on your altar. If you want to, you can share it in the classroom as well. 8. Final Thoughts: Author Elizabeth Gilbert says, "What is creativity?" It is the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration. In my first sketchbook magic class, I say you can just take one step towards your art. I hope that you're realizing as you continue to show up for your art practice, that you're not alone in this endeavor. That's what's so magical about it. Art is not a heavy lift that I have to create all by myself. As I've taken steps towards art, it's been my experience and therefore my belief, that art has also taken steps towards me. My only responsibility is for the things that are in my control, which has been the focus of this class and the practices that I've created. They help me prepare to meet my creative partner in that mysterious space where we can make something magical together.