Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Branching Out - Out on a Limb

Here is my post for the Sketchbook Challenge this month:

Since the Sketchbook Challenge began I have been using it as way to stretch my abilities, challenge my perceived boundaries, and expand my vocabulary of artistic expression. It is evident from the hundreds of entries on the flickr site that many of you are doing the same. You can usually tell from looking at a drawing/painting/sketch whether the artist is playing it safe or taking risks. I love seeing the entries on flickr that teeter on the edge of the artist's comfort zone!

This month's theme is Branching Out, which means expanding your skills, sprouting new ideas, discovering unknown territory. The flip side of that is Out on a Limb, which means taking risks, facing fear of failure, getting into your discomfort zone, facing your Inner Critic, and taking the plunge with courage.

Getting out of your comfort zone, pushing your boundaries, sounds all well and good, but being uncomfortable does not. Sometimes being uncomfortable leads (me, anyway) to art tantrums, or worse, running back to the safe zone. However, if you practice allowing that discomfort and continuing on with courage (and without judgment), you will find that, more often than not, you will branch out. You will learn to recognize that queasy feeling as an indication that you are about to discover something new. It is like the City Limits sign on the edge of your comfort zone.

I am suggesting to you that this month try at least one page in your sketchbook (and I know you'll do more once you experience the freedom that Branching Out inspires) devoted to trying something new, something that really challenges you, even something that inspires fear of failure. Do something that your Inner Critic knows you can't do! There is no failure or "can't do" in branching out; when you are honestly challenging yourself you will always be treated by a surprise. Remember, only you can know if you are truly branching out. One person's safe zone is another's unknown territory. Oh, and don't forget to have fun!!!

Here are two sketchbook entries in which I am branching out and out on a limb. I'm searching for some way to use these circles, some layering, maybe masks and stencils.... I don't know what I want the pieces to look like, but I am deliberately throwing myself off balance. I LOVE that about the skektchbook: I don't feel any need to "resolve" a piece or find an answer. Just sending out the question is enough.


  1. Wow. I love those pieces in your sketchbook. you could have fooled me that they are just experimentation. i think they look great.

  2. What a truly lovely way to "branch out". This challenge is the perfect opportunity to take risks!


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