Monday, September 21, 2020

Nine Years of Sketching (and Why I Keep Going)


11/15/11 Such courage -- straight to ink!

Writer and artist Austin Kleon is the author of several books, including the most recent Keep Going and the popular Steal Like an Artist. If you are not familiar with him, I especially recommend Keep Going, which inspires creative people to continue doing whatever they do. (Although I enjoyed the book, it acted more as confirmation than inspiration for me: I realized that I am already doing much of what he recommends. Since I’m easily old enough to be the author’s mother or even grandmother, this pleased me greatly.)

Kleon recently commemorated the 15th anniversary of his blog (which I also recommend) with a post called “15 years of blogging (and 3 reasons I keep going).” The post resonated with me strongly – his reasons for blogging all these years and why he continues:

“One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work.”

“Every time I start a new post, I never know for sure where it’s going to go. This is what writing and making art is all about: not having something to say, but finding out what you have to say.”

As a writer my entire life, I’ve always felt the same way about my personal writing: I do it not to record what I’m thinking or feeling but to understand what I’m thinking or feeling.

When I started this blog, I didn’t know where it would lead or even how long it would last (I gave myself permission to quit whenever it ceased to interest me). I just wanted a place to share my sketches and document my creative process.

Over time, though, I realized that my blog is no different from my journal, my poetry or anything else I’ve written for myself: The writing process itself helps me understand what I am thinking. And because the blog is about sketching, I pay more attention to my sketching process so that I’ll be able to articulate it on the blog. Both processes have become integral to each other – a surprising outcome for blogging, which is something I didn’t know anything about when I began.


Today is the ninth anniversary of the day I committed to learn to draw. About six months later, I began this blog. It turns out that drawing is just like writing: Every time I sketch, I learn something about what I am thinking – except I’m thinking with images instead of words.

Thank you, readers, for continuing to follow me on this journey. Most of the time, I’m just talking to myself, but I’m always delighted if you’re listening, too.

(Given the retrospective and introspective mood of this post, I thought it would be appropriate to show a few more selfies – two made in November 2011 and one made a few days ago. The ones from 2011, made only a couple of months after I began sketching, are especially bold and brave: straight to ink! I applaud my own what-the-heck-nothing-to-lose attitude. I’d like to believe I’m just as fearless now, but lately I’m more likely to equivocate with a forgiving pencil. In the spirit of my 2011 self, however, I picked up a brush pen.)


  1. Happy Anniversary to you! It is so interesting to see the selfies from 2011 compared to now. The recent ones have nice confident lines. I like your idea of writing with images. Thank you for allowing us to follow your journey of discovery.

    1. And thank YOU, Joan, for being one of my longest readers! :-)

  2. You’ve come a long way! I started a year later in the fall of 2012 with Brenda Swenson’s 75 Day Sketch Challenge in ink. Hubby and another friend did it, too, and we had fun. Now hubby has departed this life, but I am still sketching (and watercoloring) at 76. Thanks for all your valuable research on art supplies over the years!

    1. Thank you, Arlene, and I'm happy to hear that you find the product reviews useful! Keep on sketching! :-)


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