Jan 312011

Fear of failure is likely one of the most common reasons that people do not tackle the unknown. Though I usually enjoy taking on new challenges, I must admit this one makes me nervous. Drawing is not my forté. I have never taken a formal art class, and know next to nothing about drawing besides doodling. When I read about the Sketchbook Challenge in which fellow BBEST member Kimberly is participating (see Elusive Inspiration), however, I decided to stop making excuses and see what I can learn. Besides, it sounds like fun, and  creative growth does not come without a little risk.

The Sketchbook Challenge was started by fiber artist Sue Bleiweiss, with the idea that once a month, a theme will be selected for all participants. Everyone then designs as many pages as they wish that match the monthly theme, and shares them by posting photos of their art on their blogs and/or on Flickr, and by posting links in the comments section of the Sketchbook Challenge. To make this process a little less fearful for all, Sue invited 15 other artists to blog about their own progress in the Challenge. On January 1st, the first theme, “Highly prized,” was announced. Nearly every day of the month, a new blog post appeared with tales, tips and tutorials from Sue Bleiweiss and her co-hosts.

The format of the Sketchbook Challenge is easygoing and feels friendly, so I have decided to participate and see where this goes. Participants are invited to explore different techniques, not necessarily drawing. Collage, for example,  is one option. The idea is that visual art will express the monthly theme, instead of words. Below is my first entry—not perfect, by any means, but it reflects my best effort. If you would like to participate in the Sketchbook Challenge, you can read the rules here.


Sketchbook Challenge Theme for January 2011: Highly Prized

© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 082010

I mailed off my journal today to my partner in Thailand, feeling as if I was saying farewell to a good friend. If you recall, I am participating in an EtsyBloggers swap in which each person journals every day in March on an assigned topic. At the end of the month, the journals are mailed off to a partner. You can learn more about the details of the swap in a previous post I wrote.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of journaling daily, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that at times I was also a little frustrated. It was quite a challenge to keep to the schedule, and of course finding time to journal. You had to make the time; I guess that’s true of anything that’s really important to you. What was also frustrating is that I wanted the journal to be perfect, but I knew that I couldn’t take forever to finish it. My partner is expecting her journal to arrive sometime this month, after all. One of our assignments involved creating a sketch centered around our business card . . . and drawing is not really my forté. But I forged ahead, anyway, and the result is probably not too awful. I felt much more comfortable designing my pages digitally.

When the end was almost in sight—when each journal page was completed and the pages were ready to be bound inside their covers, I pulled out my Zutter Bind-it-All, a tool that punches holes into chipboard in readiness for Owire to be inserted for a spiral binding. Unfortunately, I have used the Bind-it-All only a few times and it has been a while since I used it the last time, so the punching process did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. The front cover got punched without a hitch, but the back cover required double-punching because the holes did not align properly. And yes, you can see the error. I was forced, however, to accept the final result because I had neither extra materials nor time to re-do the cover. Definitely not perfect, but it’s a good lesson for me to learn acceptance of imperfection; life is too short to agonize over small things!

The cover of my journal reads “Live – Learn – Discover,” three stages that I encountered as I journaled. Life doesn’t stop while you write about it, so you learn to fold in your observations with what is happening around you—and in the process you make some discoveries. This part of journaling is exhilarating.

Some of the assignments were playful . . . one day we were asked to take a photo and tear or cut it up, then re-assemble the pieces randomly. One other journal entry was written upside down (although I got a little carried away by alternating between upside down and right-side up paragraphs). Yet another entry was written in multiple colors. The lesson for me was a simple one. Don’t take yourself so seriously!

Possibly the most difficult part of the EtsyBloggers journal swap was sending the journal off, never to see it again. When you journal, you make a very personal investment in the pages, and it’s difficult to share that with someone else, especially someone you have never met. But there is also value to the process of letting things go, no matter how they turn out. Life goes on, you move forward, and hopefully you’ll have more courage to tackle whatever your next challenge will be. Would I do this again? I believe so!

© 2010 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.