Stepping outside of my comfort zone

I have always wanted to be able to draw, really desperately wanted to be able to draw. My best friend growing up is an artist (who now works for the Kostler Trust), and when we flat shared in Brixton she was doing a MA in Fine Art at St Martins. I even have a tattoo which she drew.

However, as an adult I have always been rather scared of drawing, in fact on one memorable occasion I have been outdrawn in Pictionary by a 5 year old. Which really didn’t help my feelings of inadequacy.

So, I focused on writing, mainly factual based, nothing as creative as fiction! I have written case studies, articles (which has been published in magazines under others’ names. The joys of working in PR! Websites and lots and lots of blog posts all over the place not to mention huge amounts of marketing collateral.

A couple of years ago I started to dabble in photography, even going as far as buying a DSLR, but I felt it was far too much of a statement and obtrusive using a DLSR when I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing. So now I use my iPhone and a Canon Powershot compact, which is a powerful little camera and will do me well for a couple of years at least. I do have a Flikr account, but I haven’t as yet shared that here, mainly as I only set it up to take part in a creative photography online course and I wanted to be able to share the results in a safe space, without worrying about judgement.

But still, the idea of being able just to pick up a pen and a pad and draw has always stayed with me as something I really want to be able to do. A few years ago I got The Creative Licence  and spent a summer drawing a little picture everyday and I really enjoyed it.


But I soon fell out of the habit and never got any further with it. I love Danny Gregory’s  style – that watercolour which isn’t too precise, the colours and the sheer joy of his work. I took solace in the fact that he only really got into drawing when he was older. And so, when he said he was opening up Sketchbook Skool I decided to take the plunge and jump far, far outside of my comfort zone. Way, way out of it in fact. This is a six week online learning course with different artists all showing different styles and techniques.

On Friday I start this course. I am excited and very, very nervous about starting this, but I am also hopeful it will help me look at the world in a whole new light. I won’t be sharing any of my drawings here, I want to focus on learning and more than anything getting through the very critical ‘inner critic’ with regards to drawing, sketching and painting. This may turn out to be a hideous disaster of an idea, but at least I will have given it ago and quenched my curiosity – with regards to this at any rate.



  1. Hi Jen!
    This is Britta – a classmate in Sketchbook Skool,coming from Germany, drawing “all live long” (and ever wanting to become a “writer” 😉 )
    Love to read your post about SB Skool and your thoughts about drawing! And I reallyreally hope that you find what you are searching for – sure you will, it´s a project of Koosje and Danny ;), that´s a guarantee for success!
    Drawing (in your own style, everybody is able to do sketches… kick your inner-critic-gnom…) is such a fun!
    Hope to see you in Skool!
    ♥ Britta

  2. Hello Jan!
    I’m also a skooler. And your story could be mine. And, like you my first thing to do will be to shut up my stupid inner critic!

    Thank you for your post!


  3. Hi Jen,
    I have also signed up for Sketchbookskool and like you am fighting with the inner demons with working in public and sharing my art. The fear of sharing art goes against logic since I made hundreds of presentations during my professional career. I am approaching this class with the idea of getting over my inhibitions about sharing art. Good luck to us all, and thanks for sharing you thoughts.

  4. Hi Tom

    It sounds like it is commmon for many of us! I echo your thoughts of ‘good luck to us all’!

  5. Hi, Jen. I rather liked that term “skooler”, so, ok, I’m also a fellow skooler. I think the best advice I’ve ever heard is “Give yourself permission to be bad, really bad.” You wouldn’t walk into a beginning French class and expect to speak fluent French, so what are we so afraid of in art klass? I have found that every time I challenge myself to be bad, I mean really bad, I go into unchartered territory and it is so exciting. And one can only get better!
    best from Tunisia,

  6. I am a skooler as well and am looking forward to it as a refresher and to get me to focus back in my skills… Even seasoned drawers need a tune up and reminder to look at things with fresh eyes… I don’t think this will be a disaster for you I have a feeling it will be the start of something rather wonderful… Have fun and great post…xx

  7. Fellow Sketchbook Skool student here, reading that book of Danny’s ‘Creative License’ is what got me started too. I’ve been trying to learn to love my wonky drawings for quite a while. Getting that inner critic to shut up is harder than drawing I think.

  8. Hi Jen – I’m a Skooler too. We’ve got a similar story. I’ve spent the last 10 years in PR after almost 15 years in entertainment production and then kids and some humor column writing. I started studying photography about 2 1/2 years ago and eventually put up a website and blog. It’s definitely hard putting work out there but I’m getting better. Especially when you look at all the junk on the internet, why not me? One of my mantras to counteract the Critic. Also I’ve always wanted to draw. I want to be the person you see at a museum walking around with a sketchpad. Soon, very soon …

  9. I’m the sort of person who would walk into day one of French class and expect to come out speaking fluent French!

    But I like the idea of giving myself permission to be really bad!

  10. Thanks Tracey, I am really looking forward to the class now and I really hope it is the start of something wonderful!

  11. It sounds like getting the inner critic to shut up is difficult for us all! Hopefully they will teach us a little of this as we go along!

  12. I would love to write a humour column! As long as it could be my rather dry sense of humour rather than fall in aisle funny!

    I would love to go into a museum and draw, I think one of the klasses is focusing on helping us to do that

  13. Hello fellow Skooler I am an avid sketcher and can only encourage you to keep going. It’s a lovely thing to be able to take with you, capturing life as you go. Look forward to seeing your work over on fb. 🙂

  14. thanks Suzi, I am indeed trying my best to do hat I can and I am enjoying it so very, very much!

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