As we spend this week taking time out to acknowledge what we’re thankful for, we also have a chance to look back on this year and see what we have learned and where we have progressed. For this week’s post from a community voice, student Carolyn Egerszegi shares with us a fantastic story about what Sketchbook Skool has taught her. It reminds us to be thankful for what we have all created together as well as look forward to what’s to come.

All I Really Need to Know About Making Art (And Writing My First Novel) I Learned in Sketchbook Skool

Carolyn (Bower) Egerszegi

“Drawing is a gateway art.” —Danny Gregory

I’ve always wanted to be an artist and I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but the same things that held me back from sketching, also held me back from writing. Day after day, my paints and pencils sat unused and lonely, languishing in a drawer with my other art supplies, that voice in my head, nagging, badgering, forcing me into submission. Stories brewed in my mind, untold. What does the voice in your head say? Mine used to say, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not qualified. You’re not good enough. You shouldn’t do it unless you can sell it. You’ll embarrass yourself.”

Creativity was like a dress that I loved, hanging in my closet, never worn.

Thankfully, that dress came off the hanger the day I started Beginnings, because all I really need to know about making art (and writing my first novel) I learned in Sketchbook Skool:

  1. Art4All. The Sketchbook Skool mantra taught me that anybody can be creative, including me. Without an art school degree or official artist’s credentials, I can sketch and draw and play and make art, any time I want. What? An artist can be an artist without approval? Unthinkable. And yet, after the first few weeks of Beginning, there I was, making art every day and calling myself an artist. Take that, voice in my head! And guess what else? The same thing applied to my desire to write a novel. Yes, I never took creative writing in high school. But so what? Art is for all. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be an artist, make art. No degree, certification or stamp of approval is necessary. Just do it. Make marks in your sketchbook. Strum notes from your guitar. Put words on a page. Art is for all.
  2. Everyone Has A Story to Tell. At Sketchbook Skool, students are celebrated for their unique and creative voices. All styles, techniques and outcomes are applauded. What this taught me is that I too have something to say. My own stories have value, and if nurtured and fostered in a supportive community, my efforts will be met with appreciation and encouragement. ‘Write a Novel’ was at the top of my bucket list. In direct response to the inspiration and creative freedom I experienced for the first time in Sketchbook Skool I have finally checked that box. Sketchbook Skool not only benefits visual artists, but promotes and fosters creativity of all types, opening my eyes to the possibility of expressing myself in a multitude of ways. I’ve learned to love my creative voice and to value its uniqueness. Instead of writing in fear, I write confidently, knowing my distinct voice must be heard.
  3. Your parent, teacher, [insert person who said you weren’t ‘good enough’] was wrong. Many students at Sketchbook Skool had a person in their lives say they weren’t good enough to make art, so they stopped. These art scars hold us back. In my high school there was a creative writing teacher who personally invited students to take his course, but he didn’t ask me.I took this as a sign I wasn’t meant to be a writer although I always had a story brewing inside my head. It has taken me twenty-five years to realize that my teacher was wrong, or at least, he didn’t see something in me that had always been there. Sketchbook Skool has taught me that no matter what has happened in the past, we can make art now. And that person who told us we weren’t good enough? They were wrong.
  4. The outcome is not the goal. For the longest time I had a fixed idea of what it meant to make art. I thought creativity needed to result in a finished product. Art was not something one did simply for personal enjoyment. This way of thinking stopped me from creating: if I couldn’t be good enough to sell my art, or to create professionally, then there was no point in doing it at all. Now, with the help of Sketchbook Skool, I draw and write for my own enjoyment first, without attachment to the results, and this way of thinking has made all the difference. Sketching and writing is an exercise in creativity and fun. It doesn’t feel like work because I have no set aspirations for the outcome. Even if nobody ever reads my novel or sees my art, I’m happy because the journey—not the destination—is the goal.
  5. Perfectionism is procrastination. The blank page and writer’s block: two evils which strangle artists, both rooted in perfectionism. What I’ve learned at Sketchbook Skool is to push beyond the blank page without excuses. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s only paper. These ideals have carried over into my dream of writing a novel. Everything worth having is on the other side of my fear, with so many “bests that can happen” if I make my mark on the page. Creativity, our sketchbooks, our art should not be taken too seriously. Nothing is precious. Blank pages, wobbly lines, dismal first drafts are all part of the process. In writing, without a first draft, there is nothing to improve upon. Perfectionism holds you back from getting better. This is no time better than now to stop procrastinating and make art.
  6. Creativity is fun. Yes, it’s true. When you release yourself from the burdens of credentials, and approval, and self-doubt, and art scars, and lofty outcomes, and perfectionism, and procrastination, making art can be fun! How does it feel when you create a sketch and love the results? Even if it’s one small corner of a page which meets with your monkey’s approval, doesn’t it feel great? And what about the amazing Sketchbook Skool community? Isn’t it fun to share your art with others, to be encouraged and supported in your creative pursuits? Sketchbook Skool has created an environment of playfulness, which, if you let it, will permeate into all areas of your life. With your Sketchbook Skool glasses on, don’t you see more, appreciate more, enjoy more? I know I do!

Sketchbook Skool has taught me that no matter our background, skill level or talent, we all have natural potential and we all must make art. There is a creative soul in all of us, and it’s our job to set it free. So take that dress out of the closet and put it on today.

What new creative project are you going to start thanks to the inspiration you’ve found at Sketchbook Skool? Has drawing been a gateway art for you? What lessons have you learned in Sketchbook Skool that have allowed you to expand your creativity into other areas of your life?

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