Tag Archives: Sketchbook Skool

‘Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, Above us only sky . . . ‘ John Lennon.

John Lennon was right.  It is easy to imagine—once someone has already put the idea into your head . . .

I started a new course at Sketchbook Skool three weeks ago—‘Imagining‘.  A couple of days into it and I was already struggling.  What I long feared to be the case was actually proving to be true—I have no imagination.  Put something in front of me and I can draw it.  Give me a topic to research and I can write about it.  Put a picture in my head and I can see it.  But ask me to come up with something all of my own . . . that’s a whole other story . . .

I have always admired people with vivid imaginations.  People who can visualise something in their mind and reproduce it in the real world.  William Blake said, “What is now proved was once only imagined” and he was right.  All the books, music, movies, art, buildings, science, technology and medical advances we have today—all dreamt up first in someone’s imagination.  At only 16 years old Albert Einstein imagined himself riding alongside beam of light to “see” what the effects would be.  It’s just as well no-one was relying on me to come up with that notion . . .

Imagine a life without imagination though.  That’s not so easy, even for me.  What would it be like I wonder, to live without any trace of visual imagination?  To be unable to see daydreams. To be unable to conjure up the faces of your friends or family, or visualize scenes and characters in books you are reading?  I recently discovered that there are certain people for whom this is the norm.  These people have what is known as Aphantasia. They cannot—are physically unable—to summon up mental images—at all  It’s as if their mind’s eye is completely blind.  Mmmmm.  Perhaps I need to rethink my own self-diagnosis.

As you may have guessed I have never been an airy-fairy, day-dreaming, head-in-the-clouds kind of girl but perhaps that is because I have never really given myself the time or space (or permission) to be so.  Maybe I have spent too much time dealing with what is and not enough time thinking about the what could be.  I rarely just ‘play’ with my pencils and paints just for the fun of it (it seems a little bit wasteful when there was no end product in sight) and I don’t recall the last time I ever tried to write anything creative like a poem or a short story (possibly not since I was in school—way back in the dark ages.)  Perhaps imagination is like a muscle and if it doesn’t get exercised (like a number of my other bits I could name right now, but won’t) it gets flabby and discouraged and refuses to cooperate.  Sigh.

Okay then.  I have talked about it and thought about it and it doesn’t seem like there is going to be any kind of quick fix (and even I can’t convince myself I suffer from aphantasia—believe me, I’ve tried!) so I guess it is something I am just going to have to work at.  So I am going to go back into my SBS classroom now and hunker down and do some of the homework I have been studiously avoiding for the last couple of weeks.  (Draw a feeling?  How the hell do I draw a feeling? . . . )  

I have to start believing that somewhere deep (deep, deep) inside me there must be some little kernel of imagination that I can tap into and begin to draw out little by little.

Wish me luck . . .


Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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I wanna make a jigsaw puzzle that’s 40,000 pieces. And when you finish it, it says ‘go outside.’ Demetri Martin.

wakefulAt 2.30am this morning I awoke with a start.  ‘Andalusian’, I thought.  That was it.  That was the answer. 14 down—’Spaniards having a change of land in USA’—Andalusian.   Good.  Great.  Now I know.  It’s a bit of a shame the old brain couldn’t have come up with that answer when I was actually working on the crossword puzzle earlier in the day but . . . that’s okay.  I got there in the end.  I can go back to sleep now . . . Hello? . . .  Brain? . . .  Can we go back to sleep now? . . .  Please? . . .  sigh . . .

crosswords2_clipboardYou know, when I joined Sketchbook Skool at the beginning of last year I distinctly remember one of the tutors saying (rather assertively I thought)—”Once you start sketching every day, you’ll never ever do another crossword puzzle.”  Well—he got that wrong!  Even though I am sketching more regularly now (if not every day at least several times a week) that has not distracted me in the least from getting my daily fix of puzzles. I definitely get a bit ‘twitchy’ if I don’t do at least one puzzle a day.  Especially crossword puzzles.  Leaving a pristine black-and-white grid empty is simply not an option for me.  I just have to fill it in . . .

mathBut if I can’t get my itchy wee hands on a crossword puzzle, a logic puzzle will do.  Or a sudoku.  Or a word-search.  Or a word-block.  I even recently attempted a mathematical crossword puzzle and, as I am and always have been, absolutely crap at maths, that really did stretch the old grey matter!  (In the interests of full disclosure I didn’t fully complete that puzzle (algebra—eeerk!) but I did manage to get  a lot of the answers to correlate—so—woohoo—Go Me!)

cart-puzzleSo why is it, do you suppose, that we (and I say we, because I know it is not only me) voluntarily spend hours of our time and energy struggling to solve problems we really don’t have to?  Don’t most of us have enough ordinary, everyday problems to solve already without making more for ourselves?  Apparently not.  Judging by the sheer volume of books, toys, websites and apps I found online devoted entirely to one form of puzzle or another, our appetite for puzzle-solving seems infinite.

puzzleI can’t speak for everyone else (no matter how I try) but there are lots of things I personally like about puzzles.  I like that they seem to relax me (well, not my brain so much—but the rest of me at least).  I like that I can do a puzzle anywhere (not a jigsaw puzzle obviously, but as they are my least favourite puzzle that is not really an issue for me).  I like that I don’t have to clear my schedule to do a puzzleI can start and stop at any time, and go back and finish it later (although preferably not at 2.30am . . . )  I like that puzzles are cheap (I would probably be bankrupt otherwise) and I like that puzzles are silent (I really like that puzzles are silent . . . )

But most of all I like puzzles because they always have a right answer.  I might not always find the right answer—but I know there always is one.

bearPerhaps, in the end, that is why we all like puzzles so much.  There are so many variables in our day-to-day lives.  So many choices.  So many possible-maybes.   Sometimes it just feels really good to deal in absolutes.  With puzzles there are no half measures, no grey areas—the answer is right . . . or it’s not.

There’s something very satisfying about that . . .


Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view.’ Wael Harakeh.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

mr magooLast week’s homework from my ‘Seeing’ art class was to highlight the differences in how we see, what we see—and also what we don’t see—when we look at something really quickly as opposed to looking deeply and intently at the same object.  It was a ‘quick, quick slow’ exercise.  

The idea was to pick a ‘fairly complex’ object and to do a quick one-minute rough sketch of it in whatever medium we chose (I chose watercolour, just because it seemed easiest.  HA!  Shows you how much I know.)  Once the initial sketch was completed we were then to slow right down and to spend the next half an hour, longer if preferred, to really look at the object and to add in the detail on top of the original sketch—correcting it as we went. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it?  Mmmmm.  

Well, first of all I don’t really do ‘one minute sketches’, in pencil, watercolour or any other medium. Nothing I have ever drawn in one minute has ever looked even vaguely akin to what I was attempting to copy.  And this was no different.  In hindsight I didn’t really think through attempting to sketch a green plant in a green pot and I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised that I ended up with a fuddled green blur and not much else.  

But that was okay.  I had the detail to add yet and detail is what I like, so this should be easy—right?  Not so much.  Turns out that I actually found it quite difficult to look past my original sketch and not just ‘follow the lines’ that I had originally set down.  (Anyone else out there always taught to colour within the lines?  It’s a hard habit to break.)  

It took a couple of false starts but I eventually started to get the hang of it, although, as usual, the hardest part was knowing when to stop.  (Even now I want to go back and work on it some more.  I don’t like the pot . . . I’m not happy with the pot . . . Step away from the pen Sally—step away . . . )



Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


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