Tuesday, April 2, 2013


4/2/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
Many sketchers I have talked to say that the hardest sketch to make is the first one in a fresh sketchbook. Some have figured out tricks they play on themselves to get past the Clean White Book syndrome: start in the middle of the book; splash background paint on the pages first to keep them from looking so clean and white; etc. Some say the first sketch sets the tone for the rest of the book, so if it’s crappy, the whole sketchbook is doomed.
That sounds like nonsense to me. I, too, feel a familiar moment of hesitation when I first crack open a pristine sketchbook, but it really lasts only a moment. Maybe it’s because my very first sketchbook ever was beautifully handbound and cost $160. After that intimidation, a $17 Stillman & Birn is a piece o’ cake. Now, as then, I just open it to the first page, drink a couple of extra sips of Americano and start sketching. It’s best to get it over with quickly.
This morning I initiated my 20th sketchbook since September 2011. I went back and looked at the first page of some previous sketchbooks to see if a bad first sketch dooms the rest of the book. I don’t see a pattern one way or another. Below is the first page of a sketchbook I started on Nov. 27, 2012. I think it’s the other way around: If the first sketch is crappy, the rest of the book can only get better.

11/27/12 Private Reserve Ultra Black ink, Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook

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