Sketchbooks haven't been an easy thing for me to embrace. I've always loved the idea of them, but in practice, they intimidated me. I've said that before. Back when I announced my sketchbook collaboration with Dana Barbieri I shared some of my thoughts of... I guess you'd say inadequacy. And fear. There's a lot of fear mixed up when a person starts something new, isn't there? I had a lot of fear about making art when I first started. Fear that I didn't know what I was doing. Fear that I wouldn't be any good. It was a late start for me. And a slow one. I think at first when I leapt into creating an artistic life I was afraid to admit what it was that I really wanted to do: make art. It might sound silly now, but then it was a scary thing to say I wanted to be a painter. I didn't know how to paint. I wasn't good at painting. I wasn't good at drawing. How could I possibly be a painter? I inched into it. Trying it out while also, first and foremost, sewing and crocheting (both fun and creative things, but not painting).
I'm not sure if that explains why sketchbooks didn't become a part of my creative practice. I used them. In the beginning, mostly to plan out projects and usually with just as many words as drawings. Even after I began to paint regularly my sketchbook didn't become a habit.
This year I embarked my project with Dana. At about the same time as we started our project, Dana was beginning a project of her own, a daily sketchbook practice that she was sharing on Instagram. I follow other artists on Instagram with daily art projects and I guess their inspiration helped to push me over the edge. I had been using my own sketchbook more than ever and was also working out ideas and testing colors and techniques with my watercolor sketchbook, too. Upon finishing filling up the basic sketchbook I'd been using (begun last October... a feat for me to finish in less than a year -- and this one was big, 144 pages). I decided to start two new sketchbooks. One for working out plans for paintings or other things like designing and testing linocuts and one for sketching in daily.
I began working in my daily sketchbook on July 13. To help hold myself accountable I've been posting photos of my pages daily on Instagram; it was a scary thing to publicly declare my intention. Not even a week into my challenge I missed a day. I've missed a total of 3 days so far, but I'm being gentle with myself. I can always pick up again tomorrow when I miss a day. Tomorrow is always there with a fresh start when I don't like the sketch I've done on a given day, too.
I'm often stumped by what to sketch, but thanks to working in the 2x2 Sketchbooks I've lost a lot of my fear of the blank page. Mostly I work from flowers in the garden (or cut from the garden) and I usually sketch with my Micron pens.
It's not always easy, but I'm always glad I've pushed myself on those tough days. My biggest challenge is overcoming tiredness at the end of the day (and a couple days I've skipped sketching because of headaches). If I were smart I'd always sketch early in the day, but I like to use my sketchbook as a break to get outside and spend time in the garden.
I know my practice will evolve over time, as all things do. I'm open to whatever comes. I'm letting myself and this part of my creative expression develop while letting myself find my own way. Even if it's been a slow and tentative beginning I can see progress and I am happy to have embraced something that was scary to me.
What about you? Is there something that you've been longing to try or to be able to do (maybe even secretly)? Why don't you try it. You'll probably surprise yourself to learn what you're capable of.