The Fear of Failure

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Here’s an image of a quick watercolor still life I did a few days ago. I’m really enjoying sketching directly with the paintbrush. I think it’s the best approach to painting free, loose and expressive.

Some time ago I had stopped sketching because I wasn’t doing perfect. Architecture school trains you to be a hybrid between technical and creative. I’d spend 90 minutes sketching something, it wasn’t perfect, I’d get frustrated and stop for months. This was the norm until a friend made me realize that it is just a piece of paper, we are not dealing with anything more than that. I haven’t stopped sketching since.

Over the years I’ve heard countless stories of people that don’t want to ruin their sketchbook. I also know of a very select few whose sketchbooks just need an ISBN. We can’t judge ourselves against these few. I wouldn’t have ever touched a basketball if I’d compared myself to Magic Johnson.

There was a workshop at a USK seminar that dealt with the fear of the blank page. I couldn’t attend to it, but I remember that participants were to get the pages dirty, footprints, smudges, paint beforehand, to avoid dealing with the neatness of the white page.

I have never got to that extreme, but I certainly sketch very dirty. In my everyday sketchbook I draw with HB, 3B and 5B pencils, so you can imagine how smudged pages can get. And I don’t carry erasers, so every line is there to stay.

I must admit that, even as a veteran of a thousand battles, I can’t get to use the first page. Don’t know why, it just feels weird.

Lately I’ve been only drawing on the left side pages. Being a leftie, I’ve always hated drawing across the spine. It is even worse with the wire bound sketchbooks I’m currently using. Or sometimes I start from the back pages. Anyway the other page gets so smudged that I don’t use it. So, it’s my sketchbook and it’s one of the few things in my life with which I can do whatever I want.