New sketchbook catching dust

The struggle of starting in a new sketchbook…

If you are an illustrator or just love to draw in your free time, you have probably experienced this: you are in an art supply shop and you pass the part where there are rows and rows of gorgeous sketchbooks. You can’t help yourself and you buy a new sketchbook, even though you have an empty stack of sketchbooks at home, waiting to be filled. When you get home, the new sketchbook ends in the same pile as all your other lovely sketchbooks, catching dust.

But why?

Because starting in that sketchbook, on those clean beautiful page, is intimidating for some of us. What if you mess up! What if you ruin that first page of that perfect new sketchbook of yours – the horror.

There is no sin or waste of money in buying a new beautiful sketchbook, even though you still have empty ones at home. All artist do it. But an unused sketchbook just because you fear you make a mistake, is a bit of a tragedy. Sketchbook should be filled with everything and anything: doodles, drawings, sketches and most of all, mistakes. It is not suppose to be perfect, it’s supposed to be fun.

Social media isn’t helping us with this fear!

When you go on Instagram you see sketchbooks of other people, most are filled with drawings that you can barely call ‘sketches’ or ‘doodle’, let alone’ mistakes’. Most sketchbooks people show on, for example, Instagram contain a selection of their best ‘sketches’. So don’t let Instagram posts fool you or those sketchbook intimidate you.

Sketchbooks are fun places, where you experiment, make mistakes and learn from them, get positively surprises, and sometimes even ruin an entire page. It’s a fun process, that’s how you grow. It’s good to make mistakes, or as Bob Ross would say: ‘there are no mistakes, just happy little accidents’.

But how to get over the fear of the first page?

It’s no fun if you have a new sketchbook, you are all giddy just thinking about drawing on that fresh paper and then….you freeze and procrastinate. Perfectionist often procrastinate. Well, don’t fear, artist have gone before you and have figured out some solutions to get over this anxiety of starting in a new sketchbook.

Meet the artist

This is my all-time favourite solution. Every time you start a sketch book, you are probably not the same person, not in the same mindset or in the same stage in your live as you were when you started your previous sketchbook. Just as your art evolves, you evolves. So the first page is the perfect page to show yourself and others who you are at the beginning of this sketchbook. This way the sketchbook is more than just a series of doodles, sketches and mistakes, it’s your story and journey as an artist. You can see yourselves and your art evolve. This makes your sketchbook even more interesting to look at in the future.

Draw something you are already good at

Another solution I have done in the past is drawing a subject you are familiar with, love to draw and/or are good at on your first page. The next page you draw something you are a little bit less familiar with. And you will continue this with every page until you are totally comfortable with drawing anything and everything that comes to mind. If the idea of messing up that first page is the reason you don’t start in that new sketchbook, don’t experiment on the first few pages.

Experiment with all your different media on the first page

This is the most efficient way to start any new sketch book: testing your different media to see how the media or the colours react to the paper. This way you get over your anxiety of starting that first page AND you wont have to rip one of the papers out of the sketchbook to test out your colours or media. But don’t forget to label them for later reference.

Don’t start of the first page

Some artist choose to avoid the problem of starting on that first page all together. If you don’t start at the first page, you don’t have to fear it. I know it sounds silly, but it works. Just start somewhere in the middle, draw something silly and unimportant. Just dive in. It really works. But what if you have sketched on a few pages and you still don’t feel comfortable drawing on that first page? Then just don’t sketch on the first page. Only write the start date of the sketchbook on that page.

I hope these tips helped you. Now, go get your new sketchbook out and have fun.


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