top of page

Just One Thing

Begin a creative Christmas journal the easy way! With a burgeoning draw of art materials and way too many inspiring social media posts it can be difficult to know where to get started with an illustrated journal so my solution is to keep things really simple.

The problem is that we are bombarded with ideas on social media channels which create, in my opinion, a huge of creative block. It is the antithesis of creativity for the viewer as whilst it stimulates and motivates it also overwhelms, filling our heads with too many options and possibilities so that beginning something creative can seem like the hardest thing.

The key to a more personal and potentially limitless source of creativity is, I think, to have some sort of system...a process or, as I like to call it, a 'recipe'. What this does is reduce the number of decisions you need to make in order to start creating a piece of art, design, craft or, this case, a festive illustrated journal entry.

A really good system for illustrated journalists of all experience levels is to create a set of limitations. This could be in the materials you use, the subject matter, the surface, time location, drawing method etc.

These constraints are a brilliantly useful device if you are new to journaling and don't where to start or if you would like to get to know/experiment with a particular medium or subject matter.

Last Christmas, my family and I were struck down with Covid, sofa bound for a couple of weeks and unsurprisingly the time was spent mostly reading and watching TV. I am a bit of a fidget (even when I'm ill!) and decided to draw them and get over my fear of drawing people quickly. Due to being a weak with fever and low on motivation, I decided to limit my equipment to two coloured pencils and instantly felt lighter as my tired, foggy brain didn't need to make decisions about anything else. I had my medium, my subject and a nice Pith sketchbook that needed filling.

From the start, I decided that my ill health gave me the perfect excuse to be unconcerned with perfection (you don't have to be ill for this to be allowed but for me it was a brilliant catalyst!) and not bothered with trying to get a likeness or even being un-offensive in the expressiveness of my drawings (thankfully the family were onboard and accepting of this which was good as a lot of my pictures of Gav resulted in him looking like a little goblin!)

What I did want to do was to capture a bit of energy, expression and feeling in the drawings I made and found that letting go of perfection and giving oneself a bit of artistic licence is SO important for this.

Before I became ill I had big plans to create a very extensive journal using my own prompts, but sticking to just one thing was just what I needed and tells the story of our 'Christmas in Isolation' perfectly.

Fancy having a go? Here's where to start...

1. Choose a simple and enjoyable drawing tool

2. Get/make a good quality but inexpensive sketchbook (I like these A5 ones by Royal Talens)

3. Choose a theme/subject and do a different (small) drawing on that theme each day (see below)

4. Use the same layout everyday or a variation of 2 layouts (read on for more advice)

Stuck for a theme? Here are some suggestions:

1. Decorations

Pick a dec-a-day and sketch! Maybe there's a story attached to your decoration the you can add as a note to your sketch.

2. Children's book illustrations

If you like me have books full of festive illos then stoke up the fire, grab a mulled wine and have a browse through. Don't draw everything just a small element or motif from the page like a stocking, garland or mantle piece.

3. On the theme of motifs sketch a whole Christmas card you've received or a small patterned motif on a card or gift wrap

4. Food

Lots of options here but try to focus on one thing which could be what you ate for one meal that day, Christmas food packaging, individual chocolates, daily festive treat, the christmas cake in its demise etc

5. Drink

Draw your cup of tea/coffee/hot choc in a different mug each day

6. Christmas Stamps

Look on Pinterest and create a collection board of beautiful stamps, pick one to draw daily changing the theme of the stamp...or keep the same...there are a lot of robins!

7. A door a day

Go on a walk and find a nice door with a wreath on. Sketch it or photograph it and draw it at home where it's warm and comfy! Walk and collect doors everyday!

Struggling with a layout...keep it super SIMPLE!

  1. Illustration on one side of the page then add a few notes about the best bits of your day on the other side

  2. Small illustration on top of a few written notes about your day

Images 3 & 4 draw one thing a day o the same page building up a page of collected images

Merry Christmas and happy scribbling, my friend xx


bottom of page