Sketchbook Confessions

I have a confession to make: I have an ugly sketchbook.

There! I said it. My sketchbook looks like a three-year-old stole it, scribbled in it, and then dropped it in a puddle after she got distracted by ice cream. Every page looks like some untold disaster. It’s half formed thoughts and unreadable chicken scratch handwriting. Again, lots and lots of actual scribbling.


KellyAnnePowers Sketchbook


My sketchbooks are nothing like the great masters, somehow masterfully curated and pieces of art themselves.

I buy the cheapest paper I possibly can and then I draw and scribble and even paint on it until it turns up and warps into unmanageable terrain. Pages stick together and tear from acrylic medium sneaking out the edges and into the pages below.


Make your sketchbooks ugly. Give yourself permission.


When I get scared of the blank white of the new sketchbook, I go to the Goodwill and get old hardbound books filled with writing and I start in on those. I like that they are hard to photograph or scan, which means I can never entertain ideas of selling anything within their pages. Because I can’t. That gives me the freedom I need to be fully immersed in process.

For me, I want my sketchbooks to be my private playground. No judgement. No high demands. A place where I can start the long process of pulling knotted thoughts out of my head and slowly forming them strand by strand into a painting.


Sketchbooks are a private place to play.

And occasionally I’ll draw a picture I think is pretty. High five. Now back to the scribbles.

What are your sketchbooks like? Pretty? Ugly? Tidy? Messy? Tell us below in the comments section.