SPECIAL FEATURE: Expectations of Talent, Hobbies, Enjoyment and a Scribble Book

This post is for those who find themselves new to sketching, watercolor, keeping a sketchbook or art journal.  Anyone looking for permission or encouragement to let their creativity come to life.

After writing this Embracing Your Fears post some thoughts surfaced out of the comments that I want to share about.  Many people keep sketchbooks as a hobby.  I’m pretty sure, most of the people that read this blog are sketchers that do it for fun, and to record things from their life visually.  I do this for fun, but it’s been in a dedicated way.  I like sharing about things I’ve learned along the way, in case they help someone else out, or help them to get started.  Anyone can keep a sketchbook or an art journal, no matter of skill or ability.  We all start somewhere, and the best place to start is where you are at—right now.

Need a little help and encouragement?  Let’s speak to our doubt!


One thing that comforted me when starting out, and still does, was having lots of paper, or more than one sketch/watercolor book. I feel like it keeps the pressure off, because I have plenty of room to practice, and it keeps the lack mentality from coming in of—this must look good because I will waste paper. I like the Bee Paper Super Deluxe Deluxe or a Canson XL Mix Media book. They are inexpensive and have lots of pages to splash paint around and experiment. Two of my favorite things I ever painted are in each of those books. They are nothing grand, but I love them.

I love having an everything goes book! Going with a seasonal theme here, I’ve made ink blob monsters, dracula, and even singed the paper to make ghosts.  So much fun experimenting.  I feel light hearted when I look at those peek-a-boo from the page below ghosts, because that’s how I felt in the making of them.

I have had the same small “scribble book” for years.  It’s full of scribble marks from different pens, getting them to work, testing out fountain pen ink mixes and quick ideas sketched in pencil and such.  Nerd alert!  Trying to sketch the Starship Enterprise here, to boldly go where I had not gone before.


There is a Zen concept—Shoshin “beginner’s mind.” “It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.”  A wonderful state of mind from which to approach things.

I think we need no pressure, no expectation, no need for external validation places to express ourselves.  How often do we get that in life?  How often do we allow for it?

I want to have something creative where I feel I don’t necessarily have to produce, be good at it, or monetize it.  I don’t want to put that burden on my creativity either.  Some people are good with the creative hustle and thrive that way, I full-on respect that.  Thriving and enjoying that hustle doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone though.

In his NY Times article, In Praise of Mediocrity, Tim Wu talks about how “The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure.”

“But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.”

My Mind

Artist Unknown

Being on all the time is not healthy, it’s stress producing.  Allow yourself to explore, create and scribble around, all for you!  This is also a way to take your awareness back, from all those places that seem to demand it.  If the hustle feels overly demanding—that is exhausting. Me? I’m sitting down, slow like, with this sketchbook and scribbling around and paying attention to what it reveals to me.

Don’t worry about being talented or let that get in your way. Pursue what makes you feel happy or free, it feels like when you don’t notice how much time has passed during an activity.  Things will progress from there!


These are thoughts, ideas, concepts and things I’ve used to get over creative fear, and honestly, to get over some of myself too.  Sure, fear still shows up, but meeting it as a story, and with some tools to push past it, goes a long way.

Creativity is yours by right.  You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval.  Seize it. Take it. It’s waiting for you.

There are many helpful resources here on Doodlewash, Watercolor Sketching: Getting Started, Watercolor Tutorial and Resources, Art Supply Reviews,  and plenty of inspiration from other people. There are monthly challenges with painting/sketching prompts to help keep you going.  Or, be a freebird about it and follow your own internal prompts and see what they reveal to you.  Or a little of both!

Check it all out in the drop down menus at the top of the page.

Inktober 2018 Prompts Doodlewash October Art Challenge Prompts

Cheers to leisure and hobby!

Happy painting and sketching and scribbling 🙂

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Other Cool Stuff
  1. Mary Roff 4 years ago

    Wonderful article, Jessica!!

  2. Quinn Piper 4 years ago

    I agree with you about the possibility of being somehow intimidated or overwhelmed by materials, and feeling pressure not to “waste” them, and I am glad I happened upon the Canson sketchbook you mentioned. I bought the 5.5 x 8.5″ version early in my Daily Markmaking 2018 adventure when I found it in a local store – one of very few art supplies I haven’t had to order online, sight unseen and hoping for the best. I do try to have other options on hand – a packet of watercolor postcards, a small block of heavy, textured watercolor paper – but the little Canson sketchbook is what I reach for most days. I’m on my 4th now, and there’s a 5th waiting.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing 🙂 Many times, the first page seems so intimidating. Recently I was trying to get a journal going for and art journal swap and the blank page stymied me. My swap partner told me to rub some dirt on it. Ha! I ended up using gouache 🙂

      • taimdala 4 years ago

        Hi Jessica ^_^

        Rubbing dirt on it? Oooh! That’s a good one. I’ll have to try that sometime.

        My version of rubbing dirt on it is either drawing a title page/”This Belongs To” page for the notebook on the very first page or just leaving the first two or three sheets blank and starting behind those “cover” pages.

        Oh, and I tell myself over and over: It’s just paper. If it’s *really* bad, I can always burn it.

        I haven’t burnt anything yet! ^_^

        • Author
          Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

          I’m so glad that I kept the wonky stuff! It’s nice to look back on, and see how things have changed.

  3. Laura Hale 4 years ago

    Thank you Jessica for reminding us of the “whys”. Well said.

  4. LoriCtoo 4 years ago

    Thank you for reminding us to enjoy the process. That is why i do it, I love to. I like your idea of a scribble book to test out pens and such. I can see those little pages ending up in some of my art journals.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Thanks Lori. Possibly using some of those scribble pages in a collage…hmm… this sounds like an idea!

  5. Susan Feniak 4 years ago

    Two thumbs up!

  6. Carol 4 years ago

    Such true words, Jessica! I find myself stressing sometimes but then remind myself that it is supposed to be fun, no matter the outcome! Love those singed ghosts, and the little drawing of the mind – I feel that way often! 😂🤣💖

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Sometimes I forget too Carol! More and more lately, I want to scribble stuff that doesn’t really look like anything, just color and shapes…and fun!

  7. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    Great article, Jessica! I think it isn’t just hobbies that people are afraid to do for fear of failure. I used to teach new software to people and was amazed how often I met an “I can’t learn it, because I don’t already know it” attitude. I used to tell people that they were in a kindergarten class, and should approach everything as though it were finger-painting.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Thanks so much Sandra! I want to learn so many things!! All the things it seems like sometimes. The most challenging thing I’ve ever learned how to do is knit. Sometimes I marvel at the doing of it, especially when I’ve got two at a time socks going on the same circular needle and yarn coming out of both ends of the same caked yarn. I figure, if I can do this, I can do anything. Ha!

  8. nkvorka 4 years ago

    Thank you Jessica, I really enjoyed reading this. I love that you have used that same “scribble” book for years. I have many similar type books. I also try to use the same journal for every type of medium I work with, mostly that works. Nancy K.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Thank you Nancy and cheers for multiple journal usage- MJU 😉

  9. Robin Edmundson 4 years ago

    Jessica! I soooo loved this piece and I loved the quote about hobbies. I’ve been feeling the pressure and slowing feeling my way around to a creative practice instead of a mountain of creative anxiety. Thank you so much!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Hi Robin! Thanks so much for this comment. I feel you sister. <3

  10. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    Thanks for these very helpful words of wisdom!

  11. June Hadaway 4 years ago

    Great article. And, you are right. A clean, new book can be
    Intimidating. I do love all the sketchbooks. You have some fun stuff in yours!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 4 years ago

      Thanks June 🙂 I was mentioning to someone else about advice a friend gave me once when I had that first page stare…just rub some dirt in it. Hhaha.

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