Seven Dials, London

Just back from a trip to London and York, and still sorting through photos and experiences. This is a quick sketch I made over coffee on Sunday morning in Seven Dials, Covent Garden.

How to start sketching more

A few tips for those interested in picking up a sketching habit:

  1. Pick a notebook that you enjoy using, one that you really want to use. I mainly use a Moleskine pocket sketchbook. I have notebooks with better quality paper, but this is  one is just a pure joy for me to use. It’s nice but not so nice that I’m scared of “ruining” it, it’s light and pocketable so I have no excuse not to carry it, and it’s good enough for all the media that I sketch with – pencils, coloured pencils, pens and brush pens.
  2. The medium you use doesn’t really matter, so start with something simple that works with the notebook you picked:
    • Pencil
    • Fineliner
    • Ballpoint pen
    • Brush pen
  3. It doesn’t matter what you draw so long as you draw it.Don’t wait for inspiration or a lofty subject.
    • Every line you draw is already a personal and meaningful thing. Remember that when you feel like giving yourself a hard time.
    • If you’re trying to accurately document something for posterity – take a picture with your smartphone. Sketching and drawing is about making a moment, person, object your own.
    • That being said, give yourself a break and start with the simple – objects without too many finicky details that will stay still while you draw it.
  4. You’re going for quantity first, then quality, as you are trying to build up a habit. Draw a cup of coffee, your midmorning snack, things on your desk, etc.
  5. Challenge yourself to keep it up daily for a month. You can use Streaks to help you keep up the habit.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others, ever. You don’t know:
    1. How long they’ve been at it.
    2. What training they’ve had.
    3. How many “failures” they didn’t post.

This week’s long run

This week’s long run was only 7k (easing into it), but fun and scenic nonetheless. My legs were sore when I set out and it would have been so easy to skip this run, but I told myself that I’d at least give it a try, and if it didn’t work out, I’d just cut my run short. This is a pretty useful trick to get yourself out the door, as once you’ve started running your inclination is not to stop.

I mixed up the route this time, going further north up Tel Aviv’s promenade instead of turning into the park. I still prefer the park because of its wildlife and relatively deserted footpaths, but it was nice to try something new for a change.

The weather was crazy, starting out grey and windy, then the sun came out and blazed on us (still windy though), only for it to start pouring rain outside the moment I finished my run.

Tel Aviv is gorgeous at this time of year, and there’s nothing better than exploring it with your feet.

Which Notebooks I’m Currently Using

I love reading about how other people use their notebooks and pens/pencils, so I decided to take the time to list what I’m currently using and how:

  • Field Notes Front Page – used in landscape mode with a Blackwing 16.2 to take notes while I work through the third draft of my novel. Something about the format of this notebook appeals to me, especially in landscape mode. I ignore the lines completely (easy to do, since they’re so faint). Also works well while I’m typing, since it’s thin enough not to get in the way. I just put it below my keyboard, a pause to jot a quick note when I need to.
  • Field Notes Dime Novel – I use this as a catch-all and home to do list notebook, using whichever fountain pen I have inked at the moment.
  • Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel – used as my daily journal, coupled with a Ti Arto with a uni-ball Signo 0.5 gel refill (UMR-85) and a Scotch glue stick to paste bits and bobs in. I’ve been using this combo for about two years now (with different Moleskine lined notebooks), and I couldn’t be happier with it.
  • Moleskine Large Squared  – used as my “bullet journal” at work. I’ve simplified the bullet journal system (removed the calendars entirely) and it’s now a daily checklist + work journal that serves to answer two questions: what am I going to do today, and what have I actually done. Keeps me sane and happy, especially when outages derail my day. I use a Zebra G-301 pen with this that I bought in Atlanta in 2012, and it is still going strong. I go through about a refill every two months, so this isn’t the most economical of systems…
  • Moleskine pocket square reporter – a new one for me. I’m using it to keep a running food journal, using a Retro 51 tornado slim graphite filled with a parker gel refill.
  • Paper for Fountain Pens notebook – together with sheafs of Tomoe River paper, this is what I use for my writing notes, quick drafts, and when I’m working through plot holes. I use whatever fountain pen I have going at the time, usually two pens with two different inks, Neil Gaiman style.
  • Moleskine two-go – I’m using this as my reading journal. I log all the books I read here. Previously I used two Field Notes Arts notebooks, but I ran out of them, so I moved to this. Using a Karas Kustoms grey RenderK in this, coupled with a Caran d’Ache Bicolor pencil to highlight things, and whatever other pencil I have laying around, for extra notes.
  • Baron Fig Three Legged Jester Confidant – using this to track my resolutions for several years now. Used to be my daily journal.
  • Moleskine softcover squared pocket reporter – using this to keep track of story ideas. I write in it with whatever is on hand.

A large pile of notebooks

This week’s long run, waterfowl edition

This week’s long run was my first after another bout of sickness. Ran just 6k and had a bit of a tough time with it, since I’m still coughing and I had to stop a few times to catch my breath.

That did allow me to take a few photos of a pied kingfisher fishing, and some little egrets chasing each other on the shore:

As usual, the only run that you’ll regret is the one that you didn’t take.

Vintage Friday: Boxes and Stapler

I love going to flea markets and rummaging for old things, particularly boxes to store stuff like notebooks and pencils, and old office supplies, which are oftentimes elaborately decorated and over engineered.

Three of my latest finds include an old army oxygen mask box, which I am using to store my used notebooks in:

An old wooden box that is currently empty, but will house my Blackwing Volumes pencils, I think:

And a byzantine looking stapler, which is completely non functional (doesn’t accept modern staples), but was too wacky to leave behind: