About 10 years ago, my preschool-aged daughter showed a keen interest in art. It was around that time when I discovered the simple joy of watercolor sketching in a small notebook. I thought it would be a fun Mommy-and-me activity, and it was.
Little did I know how much it would help my design skills later in life.
Like most designers, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. It’s hard to unplug. Watercolor sketching, on the other hand, demands in-the-moment focus. It forces me to back away from the electronics, slow down and take a close look at what’s happening right now.
In the workplace, whiteboard and/or pencil sketching facilitates “thinking on paper”. Visually communicating your ideas allows you to clarify them quickly and create a shared vision with your teammates. Watercolor sketching can help you develop these skills faster.
Getting started: it's easier than you think
A simple setup is all you need to get started. You can get a pocket-sized watercolor set for about USD $15. The best way to start is to just start. Even if it’s only pen and paper. Start drawing what’s in front of you for a few minutes every day. My sketch kit is always in my bag just in case I have a few minutes to spare. For example, I’ll open it up any time I’m waiting at school pickup, doctor appointments or in restaurants.
You’ll get better as your hand-eye coordination improves with practice. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes - that’s how you learn! The more you sketch, the more you’ll see. And the more you see the better you’ll get. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Over time you’ll build a robust visual vocabulary based on simple shapes - circles, rectangles, triangles, lines and dots - the building blocks of design. For inspiration, check out urbansketchers.org. This global community of sketchers shares their daily adventures as they literally see the world one drawing at a time.
Give watercolor sketching a try in 2018. Besides improving your overall design skills, it’s a wonderful way to relax and appreciate your surroundings.
One of my sketches: "Christmas Slippers". Merry UXmas and happy sketching!