Thursday, July 13, 2017

You Can't Fill Your Sketchbook With Perfection

My Pentalic AquaJournals, in pocket and 5"x8" sizes, on top of heating pads because I am one chronically ill artist.

I have some truly nice watercolor journals. In the future I plan to actually figure out how to bind makeshift watercolor journals myself out of Arches watercolor paper, which means I'll have a super nice watercolor journal.

But when I first started arting, I had issues with sketchbooks and especially nice ones. I wanted to make all the pages awesome. I wanted beautiful pictures on every page possible, and because I knew that art pieces can be so easily screwed up I was hesitant to even start.

This is the primary reason my tutor didn't allow me to get more sketchbooks (no matter how cheap) until I'd used the ones I had up. I also wasn't allowed any more paper until I used my existing blocks and paper up. This seems cruel, but in my general art desperation I began to actually use my sketchbooks.

Even my nice AquaJournals. I'm an artist, artists gotta art, even if it's gonna touch pristine and wonderful watercolor journals.

I started to use my AquaJournals for experiments! That seems cruel to such a lovely sketchbook.

Tossing random colors around on an AquaJournal page! Sacrilege!

Not even watercolors! I AM A MONSTER

But—experiments soon gave way to actual art. The moment I stopped treating my AquaJournals as relics to be kept untarnished, I began to actually use them.

And art happened. Real actual honest to all the gods art.

Look at the page opposite all those splotches. I wouldn't have tried anything so chunky before either.
These two pages actually both have art on them! A cute art and an inspirational art!
Holy crap, I did that Ghibli-style piece of a Jizō. I actually did that. I mean. Just watercolor pencils. But still.

It's not that I hadn't created art pieces before; I'd just done it outside of the AquaJournals, to keep them pristine until I could Really Art.

But then I just let myself go and did any old thing in my journals, and sometimes art happens! Not just art—art I didn't feel comfortable creating, art that I started out of the blue, art experiments that kept going all the way to a finished piece.

Learning to use my sketchbooks meant that I had unleashed my inner artist.

Also I'm chronically ill so smaller sketchbooks are pretty much the only way, outside of very small ATC/ACEO works, that art happens any given week.

So now I'm on a quest to fill out both of these journals before I get any more, or even start to think of making some nice Arches ones.

A lesson well-learned on my part, thanks to me actually listening to my hardass tutor.

(Well, they aren't that hardass at all. Hardass would be forcing me to art every day in spite of my illness. My tutor simply imposes challenging restrictions for me to work around at my own pace. Yet for some reason I know a lot of fellow art students who would prefer the first kind of tutor over the second. Different strokes for different folks.)

Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.