During my Creative Retreat I spent a lot of time working in my sketchbooks again. And thinking about why I work in sketchbooks at all. As the interviews started coming back and I read what others were writing I was struck by some similarities in our thinking. Insecurities. Fears. But also, once we push past that initial hesitancy, a sense of freedom. Sketchbooks are, or can be, for your eyes only. A place to try things out, to play.
There are some pages in my sketchbooks that I'll never show to anyone. Awkward experiments that haven't worked out. Hastily rendered pages created when my heart just wasn't in it or my focus distracted. There are also mistakes. Accidents. Messiness.
What I've come to realize is that this is the point of sketchbooks. Sketchbooks afford us the freedom to make mistakes and have accidents. Mistakes and accidents are crucial to growth. Growth can be hard and painful. And I think that's part of what sometimes makes me reluctant to work in my sketchbook. Although it's fun and freeing, sometimes it's also just that, WORK.
I wrote myself a little note on my inspiration board/side of my desk*. It's at the bottom and says "do the work".
It's a good reminder.
Other times sketchbooks don't feel like work at all.
I've been playing with marker in one of my sketchbooks lately. In the evenings watching Netflix or DVDs from the library. It's fun not to have to worry about the outcome. Sometimes my sketches are realistic and sometimes they're entirely made up.
I don't often do made up. My art can be so serious and careful. And I love painting that way, but it's also nice to loosen up and play. It doesn't always work out, but I've come to realize the end product isn't the point.
For that reason, although I think there's value in sharing our sketchbooks -- on blogs, on Instagram, etc -- to help hold us accountable and to foster community, I see the other side, too. The value of creation in private. Our inner critics can be very loud without opening ourselves up to the possibility of external criticism, too. There's also the danger that we'll start creating, not for ourselves, but for outside acceptance and approval.
I guess the most important thing I'm taking away from my Creative Retreat and from the inspiration of the Sketchbook Conversations posts is that I keep creating, keep playing and working in my sketchbooks.
I hope you'll be inspired to create, too. Maybe sketchbooks aren't for you. And that's ok. You don't have to create with paints or markers or pens or pencils. Creativity isn't limited to sketchbooks or to any specific medium or outlet. Listen to the whispers of your spirit. Follow your heart and your imagination. They will never lead you in the wrong direction.
I'll be back on Friday with an exciting invitation. See you then.
*The art on the side of my desk is mine except: 1) postcard with the dresses from Uppercase Magazine's Feed Sacks Volume of the Encyclopedia of Inspiration, 2) "You have cool hair" card from Moo, 3) bird bookmark -- design by Dana Barbieri printed by Uppercase Magazine, 4) black and white floral and hand lettered illustration print by Dana Barbieri