Facing my fear


I’m not scared of heights. I’m not scared of the dark. I’m scared of my sketchbooks.

Well not actually scared of the physical item but more of what comes with owning one… the sketching! I think I’ve spoken about this before but I can’t put pencil to paper. When I was younger I used to be really good at drawing (for an 8 year old – I won competitions and everything) and I don’t know what happened, but I have no confidence in my drawing skills now. I know they say practice makes perfect but I can’t practice – I actually have a fear of making a mark on paper. I have tried to conquer this fear a couple of times since being at Uni:

The first time was when our tutor set us a challenge. I went to a coffee shop with my friends and did some people watching back in November 2010 (I can’t draw people)…

…I tried sketching again on a holiday in April 2011 (I don’t mind this sketch actually)…

…and twice in June 2011 – once for this building on a trip to Ely (which I really like)….

… and lastly on a bus journey (which is rubbish).

You might notice that all of those are  using pen so that I had to commit and couldn’t rub it out. I tried using a selection of pens to add depth and different textures – Sharpies, thick markers, fine liners and biros. I kinda like the effect and I think I’m definitely better at drawing buildings or things with square angles and straight lines.

I think mainly I’m just scared of making a mistake and messing the lovely clean page up. I know that even the best artists and illustrators don’t produce their polished finals with the first sketch. I think that Photoshop is to blame – I can always press cmd + Z and undo on screen!

But the other day I decided that it’s time to face my fear and use my sketchbooks – I have over 25 unused sketchbooks!

Here’s just 19 from my collection – a mixture of ones I have bought myself, made myself and quite a few that friends have bought for me as gifts!

Sketchbooks – the perfect gift for a creative, right? You can carry it with you everywhere you go to sketch and write down all your lovely creative thoughts and visions. And that is my new plan. I’m not going to be scared of my sketchbooks.

I think I’ll carry on in that sketchbook I started using to get my confidence up and see what happens. I’d like to start sketching some patterns and typography at some point when I’ve got the hang of things. Maybe I’ll even do some collages too!

Wish me luck…


  • graphiquefantastique

    04/08/2013 at 2:22 am

    As I’m an idiot, I managed to delete the nice comments that had been left here – I’m really annoyed at myself. Sorry to the lovely people that commented! Thank you so much – I really appreciate your comments and I did reply but I managed to deleted them too! Here’s what you lovely people said:

    Isabella from http://themadwomanhaslefttheattic.wordpress.com:
    I can relate to that so much!!! Actually, i don’t even own a sketchbook. Never bought one because than I’d feel obliged to actually use it 😉 But I recently started drawing/painting again and once I managed to overcome your inhibitions I really enjoyed it!
    So, keep it up and good luck! 🙂

    I’m really glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t want to do anything unless it is going to be perfect but I know that it won’t be and I need to practice to get there.

    Dominika from http://dominikawiecha.wordpress.com:
    oh my god I’m totally like you! when I was a child I was really good at drawing but now I just lack confidence and practice I suppose. For my birthday last year I got this beautiful sketchbook from my boyfriend and committed myself to doing one sketch a day – that was over a year ago and since then I only filled about 4 pages…. I actually feel ashamed of myself about this.
    Good luck with conquering your fear of sketchbook and if you have any tips please share!

    Martyna from http://meallynphotography.wordpress.com:
    I have so many notebooks too! And despite I’m not drawing, only writing my thoughts they are unused. And I’m still buying new one!

    Abhi from http://chaiteaandcoffee.wordpress.com:
    Your sketches are amazing! and I’m so glad you wrote about this, I thought I was the only one who would rather not start a sketch at all just in case it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to be.

  • DetachAttachFlow

    04/08/2013 at 9:18 am

    I experienced this a while back as well, although it wasn’t the drawing I was scared of, but using damaging the lovely sketchbooks! I had no difficulty being myself on loose paper, so I gathered all the pretty unused sketchbooks and either threw them away, or gave them to friends. My problem was solved at that point, as I went off and bought a plain and bland sketchbook.
    I guess,for me, having many sketchbooks created a pressure to draw more and art should be fun!

    • graphiquefantastique

      05/08/2013 at 12:22 pm

      Yes that’s part of my problem too – I want all of my drawings to be perfect so that I don’t ruin the sketchbook ha I’m the same – loose sheets I can deal with but it’s just the formality of the book. WOW – I couldn’t get rid of all my sketchbooks so I will have to use them I guess! I really like drawing once I get into it, it’s just the first mark that’s hard

  • ibirella

    04/08/2013 at 11:12 am

    hey! just wanted to say that I did see your reply. good luck once again! 😉

  • melissammas

    04/08/2013 at 8:24 pm

    I also have this fear! Just making that first mark in a sketchbook is so terrifying to me! But I’m learning, and I’m sure you’re learning too that confidence is key! Good luck and best wishes!

    • graphiquefantastique

      05/08/2013 at 12:45 pm

      I’m so glad that other creatives have the same trouble! I think it’s going to be a while before I get my confidence back but I’m definitely going to give it a go. Good luck to you too – your blog is brilliant!

  • darlingbudsofell

    05/08/2013 at 11:58 am

    I can also relate to this ! I have so many lovely sketch books, purchased from a certain lovely dreamy stationary shop called chase of the paper….! I started writing notes of new floral design ideas, then tried to create images from these notes, total disaster and I thought to myself, like you , why? I was good as a kid….! I guess the more you do it the more it will come naturally to you! I may pop over the road and buy a new sketch book this afternoon as all the ones i have at home have a few ripped our pages and take inspiration from yourself and get back into sketching!! 🙂 E

    • graphiquefantastique

      05/08/2013 at 12:17 pm

      I try to avoid the chase of the paper – I spend way too much money ha Oh yes, nothing like a brand new sketchbook! I hope you do and I’ll be checking your blog for progress 🙂 Good luck

      • darlingbudsofell

        05/08/2013 at 12:20 pm

        Thank you ! And to you … I may use it more for notes than sketches. Who knows ! Look out for updates! 🙂

    • graphiquefantastique

      06/08/2013 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Teagan, thanks for stopping by! That’s a great quote by a great lady – fingers crossed I can beat my fear 🙂

  • Sian

    07/08/2013 at 9:51 am

    Hi Natasha, I SO had this problem, I still do to some extent. I cannot sketch from observation and I’ve definitely come to terms with that now, I just don’t do it. I have photos to record observations and I don’t see it as a lazy way out, it’s just avoiding getting myself all worked up about something I just can’t get my head around. However, drawing in a sketchbook was a whole different ball game, I couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper to draw *anything,* even just to doodle in my sketchbook, I couldn’t do it. I was scared of “ruining” the sketchbook. It’s crazy that this is such a common thing among artists/designers. Absolute best of luck with conquering your fear, you’ll get there!!
    Sian Xxx

    • graphiquefantastique

      07/08/2013 at 9:57 am

      Hi Sian, I haven’t tackled doodling yet – I think drawing something that doesn’t exist is definitely harder than observation sketching. I’m so glad/surprised that I’m not alone with the fear of ruining sketchbooks – makes me feel less of a weirdo 🙂 Thanks, I’ll try my best! xx

  • CrunchingLeaves

    22/08/2013 at 8:55 pm

    Just ran across this and most definitely understand where you’re coming from. I can copy just about any cartoon that someone else has created, but sketching from real life terrifies me. I may try drawing in pen next 🙂 Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone in my fear of sketching!

    • graphiquefantastique

      22/08/2013 at 11:41 pm

      You should give sketching with pens a go – it’s helping me build my confidence! You’re definitely not alone 🙂 It would seem there’s quite a few of us out there…

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