December Sketch Box Review and Holiday Doodles

I received December’s Sketchbox Premium last week. Sketchbox is a subscription service that sends you a surprise selection of art supplies and an insert introducing you to a new artist’s work each month. It comes in two varieties Premium $36 and Basic $25. This month’s Sketchbox was a nice collection of Copic Markers! Unfortunately, I have been busy with other projects and have not gotten to play with these beyond a few doodles. Which is a shame because I love them! But, I feel comfortable enough with what I have done to give a review of Sketchbox. This month’s Sketchbox contained two Copic Sketch markers, two more Copic Ciao markers, a Dewert Pencil 4B, a Pentel Stylo Drawing Pen, and a Sketchbox Signature Sketchbook.

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The Sketchbox Experience

I do enjoy getting a little package of art supplies in the mail each month. I was very happy with this month’s collection. However, there have been months where I have been a little disappointed. I would also say I have attempted new styles and mediums because of this subscription. I basically had no interest in inking before Sketchbox. Now inking is something I do often. Inking can be a quick and compact medium which makes it perfect for daily art practice. I now keep a little bag of inking supplies in my work bag for when I get a lunch break.  I love the insert with artwork printed on one side and an artist’s introduction on the other. I have started following a few artists I didn’t know about because of it.

Sketchbox Doodle Deer with Tree Antlers

Sketchbox Value

Sketchbox sends an insert describing each product and giving you the MSRP. If you total up the prices this month it adds up to $42.33. Leaving the receiver feeling like she just got a bit of the deal on the art supplies. But, here is the thing I don’t know about you but I almost never pay full price for anything at most art stores. There is a constant rotation of sale items so if you just wait a bit you often won’t have to pay full price for what you want. Most big box art and craft stores run bi-weekly or monthly coupons on full price items in addition to that. Blick runs sales so often I wasn’t even impressed by their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as they were the same sales they run every few weeks the rest of the year. My opinion of the Manufacture’s Recommended Retail Price is that it is quite inflated so stores can ‘discount’ pretty much everything. Even the little mom and pop art supply store in my village has a “their price” and an “our price” on their price stickers.

 

 

 

I expect to pay a premium for this kind of service, they have to pay for things like warehousing, employees, artists royalties, and shipping. So the fact that I am not getting a deal does not bother me. But, they are presenting themselves as if they are giving you a deal. They are not the only ones who do this. Pretty much every subscription service I have tried does this kind of marketing to existing customers. I personally find this variety of marketing annoying because it works on the assumption most consumers know very little about product pricing. When I priced the contents with a comparable sketchbook at an art store I came out at about $34 after sales tax. Rember these are the smaller size Copic markers, not the regular size ones that retail for between $6 and $12. If you bought this package at Blick it would be about $30 before shipping. Buying five more dollars of stuff gets you free shipping right now. But, this bundle would be more expensive at Blick if you paid shipping costs. Basically, in my opinion, the subscription cost is comparable to what you would pay elsewhere for the same supplies. Which is better than I thought it would be. I was actually expecting to get a little less than $35 of supplies for the reasons I mentioned above.

This Months Contents:

Two Copic Sketch Markers: V95 Light Grape and BG72 Ice Ocean

Copic Sketch Markers

Two Copic Ciao Markers: BG09 Blue Green and G99 Olive

Copic Ciao

Derwent Sketching Pencil and Pentel Stylo Drawing Pen

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Sketchbox Signature Sketchbook 5.5×3.5in and Art print by Nat Susrez

This is a nice little sketchbook. It has a nice hardcover, good paper, a bookmark ribbon, a band to hold it closed, and a back pocket which you could use for artists’ trading cards. As I have mentioned in the past the art print is one of my favorite parts of this subscription.

Closeup Sketchbox Signature

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Copic Ciao markers are great for blending.

Bottom Line

I think this is worthwhile for certain situations. If you have a teen, novice, or amateur artist in your life this would make a great gift. Sketchbox will expose them to several brands so they can figure out what they like best.  I have stumbled across a few professional artist because they get this subscription and then post to Instagram with the #sketchbox. I also bought one art print because of this. So a professional could leverage this to boost their social media presence but you are also providing Sketchbox with free advertising. I am not a marketing expert so I could be completely wrong about it helping an artist improve their social media impact. I think this was fun to try for myself for a few months but I don’t foresee myself renewing after this subscription runs out.

Happy Art Journey,

Justine

The Why and the How of a Daily Art Practice

Why We Need a Daily Art Practice

As I have mentioned in previous posts, great art is not gifted by the fates via raw talent but is the product of persistence on the part of the artist. Like many things our art skills only improve as we practice them. I really believe that anyone can develop their drawing, painting, and sculpting skills if they exercise those skills. If I did not believe in the power of practice, I would not bother creating art, and I certainly would not be blogging about it. Your favorite artist the person whose work you most admire was not born with art talent they developed art skill over years of training.

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Michelangelo did not start with the Creation of Adam. This is the pinnacle of his career. The cumulative effort of years of practice.

I don’t practice under the belief that I can be Michelangelo. Only Michelangelo can be Michelangelo. But, I do work under the assumption that I have plenty of room for improvement. I believe that I and anyone else who wants it can create lovely art and improve with persistent practice. But, we can only grow if we practice. To practice, we must make time and space for it.

You may be thinking ‘Who has time to paint every day? Certainly, not me!’ Look I get it, life is busy. I have a job, a family, etc. I have days where I consider myself lucky to make it through the work day and get myself and my kids home in one piece. But, I do make time for my art practice, and my goal is a daily practice. Note, the use of the word “goal.” A goal is not something you have already but something we strive to have. I do have days where I fall sort of my goal, and that is okay.

www.dickblick.com


Tips for Maintaining a Daily Art Practice

Tip #1: Accept that what you have to offer today is enough.

We don’t have to embark on a major art project every single day. Only have 5 minutes to do a little sketching? That is awesome! Just do it. Don’t get hung up on completing an epic social media share-worthy piece every day. Just doing a little doodle is practice and will help you improve.

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A quick watercolor sketch to get down an idea bouncing around my head. Perhaps some day it will evolve into a more detailed project.

Tip #2: Get a little sketchbook.

I have a few small sketchbooks I carry around with me. I have an itty bitty one for my purse. I have a bag packed with a few art supplies I can grab on my way out the door to take the kids to the playground. It contains a small travel watercolor pallet, a water brush, and a small watercolor paper notebook. I even have a small book and pen stash in my work bag. If I get the chance to do a little sketching on my coffee break or waiting at the doctor’s office I will take advantage of it. It is great to have some simple art tools on hand where ever you are.

Tip #3 Don’t have time to create a full piece? Practice the fundamentals.

We need to spend time on brush, pen, and pencil strokes if we want to get really good at them. We may not have time to create a full painting but time spent practicing brush strokes is well worthwhile.  Here is a great tip I learned in Ana Victoria Calderón’s SkillShare Premium watercolor classes. Improve brush precision by painting small rectangles or interlocking shapes as close as you can get them without touching. You can spend as little or as much time on it as you like.

Tip #4 Have a family? Do art with them.

In my family, we have instituted a “Screen-Free Sunday” policy. One day without screens a week. Very often we spend time together on crafts. Right now favorite activities include creating pixel characters with Fusebeads and Poly-clay Mario power-ups. Sometimes I just draw simple images with a Sharpie for my youngest to color in.

Tip #5 Find your time sinks replace them with art.

For me, this was commenting on political articles on Facebook. I would do this to unwind at night, which is really counterproductive in today’s political climate. When I actually started to pay attention to the amount of time I spent on this I realized it was closer to an hour than fifteen minutes that I thought it was. I try to limit my social media time to friendly Facebook banter and Deviant Art which is a great place to network with other artists and see their work. I will admit I have little time for TV and video games because I would rather paint.

Happy Art Journey,

Justine