Thursday, April 13, 2017


When I crack open a new sketchbook I always get a knot in my stomach. All those pristine unsullied pages. Full of hope and potential. But what if I mess up? What if I make a mistake? What if ...?

Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook. 

Even though I know sketchbooks are for practicing and experimenting with new techniques, who wants to keep looking at a "failed" sketch every time you open it up?

I'm not alone in that feeling, apparently. I see plenty of bloggers and plenty of videos on Youtube sharing that same sentiment and giving advice on how to overcome the gloom of potential failure when starting a new sketchbook.

Mostly, the advice is to remind yourself that sketchbooks are for practice and the place to make mistakes. And yes, I know most of my drawings are silly and uncoordinated, and I recognize at least most of the mistakes I've made with them. But I still like to put them out there for the world to see ... and judge. Maybe it'll make some other artist feel good about their own talent.

Kind of like when you think your life sucks but then you see someone else who has it worse than you, you don't feel so bad about your own situation. So I guess while a lot of artist inspire others through their immense talent, I inspire others through my lack of talent. Hmm. I guess that's kind of good and bad, depending on how I want to look at it.

Anyhow, I took some advice from some of the great sketchers out there, such as Liz Steel  who says she begins her sketchbooks by first sketching the tools she uses to draw in them. And Teoh Yi Chie (Parka) who travels often and sketches his tools for each new sketchbook before he leaves on a new adventure. More as a packing list for him than to break in a sketchbook which is a good idea as well.

Most of the tools I'm using for my current  Stillman & Birn Beta hardcover A5 sketchbook.

I like the idea of sketching your tools because it's easy and fun. Plus, it makes you think about what tools -- pens, pencils, inks, etc., you want to use for the near future. It's also good practice on composition of your first sketch in a new book. It allows you to add as much detail or as little detail as you want, and it gives you color samples of your palette that you can refer back to when you need to.

Have a sketchy day.

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