Bridge art by Deb Mostert. Image by Damien O’Mara.

Artists of of all ages and ability know the fear of the unknown. No matter how skilled or confident you are, you are never immune to that inkling of fear that sits just beneath the surface of whatever it is you’re about to do.

Our students talk a lot about fear and the obstacles that hold them back from starting a sketching habit. I first wrote to Deb Mostert asking about this topic because she has shared her art in some pretty big (and somewhat scary!) ways, from sketching live in public for an Urban Sketching competition, to having sketches projected larger than life onto a bridge in Brisbane, Australia.

Deb explained that working in her sketchbook is the most successful tool in combating those feelings. They give her a safe space to experiment and test out all sorts of ideas without judgement.

From the first page in a new sketchbook, to a drawing that millions of eyes will see, we all start out with a little seed of fear and must rely on the strength and skills we develop in our sketchbooks to help us conquer it!

Anxiety over self portraits has come up in discussions in multiple kourses at Sketchbook Skool. We tackled selfies every day with Koosje in Seeing, and we discuss the sketchbook as a tool for self examination in A Zillion Ways to Fill Your Sketchbook. One student Jane said, “Drawing selfies is what they make you do in hell (whereas in heaven you get to sketch bits of scrap metal, buildings, and museum artifacts)…”

So what is it about capturing ourselves that is so scary? And what happens when you face it? Drawing your own portrait means you have to really look at yourself. You can’t hide behind a snapchat filter and you can’t airbrush away the imperfections you’re hung up on. You’re forced to cherish every line, shadow, and wrinkle that makes you who you are. As artists, we pride ourselves on seeing the beauty in the every day. It’s only fair that we look at ourselves in the same light and take pride in what makes us unique.

Art by John Chromer

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