A favorite pastime of mine is reading artist and illustrator interviews. I once read that Illustrator Quentin Blake came to his sketchy signature style from his editor preferring the relaxed nature of his spontaneous sketches.
In my sketchbook- I don’t overthink what I’m doing. There is something about my mechanical pencil and the texture of the drawing paper that is so gratifying to create with. While sketching, I can access a more authentic part of my imagination. Perhaps the psychological shift is not so mysterious and it’s because the paper is cheaper (actually, that’s exactly it).
In the past, when I would start creating a final artwork there would be an unpleasant shift. Sketching on such beautifully expensive Arches paper (don’t mess this up!) would cause me to loose some of that uninhibited flow of the sketches. I’ve found that the only way to combine the relaxed quality of my sketches with the careful rendering of my final illustrations is, well, a whole lot of practice.
So, there are two lessons here: when you’re creating something “final” and it isn’t working out, take a break and do some sketching, a.k.a- play. And when you are in a mode of almost exclusively creating sketches, remember to make a final piece for every few sketches. That way, play, every artist’s mischievously delightful companion, will wander more freely into your final artwork.