musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Sketchbook Skool!


[In which one writer finds other things to do with notebooks and pens besides furiously scribbling words.]

I have had a love-affair with art supply stores for years.  Mostly it was drooling at all the colors and paints and pencils and artsy stuff like a kid in a candy store, but then circling back around to my “safe” area–  pens and notebooks.  I love buying pens and notebooks, as do so many of my writerly friends.  How fun to pick up different pens for $2 or $3, and fill up the tabla rasa of white pages.

And then, inspired by a writer-friend who was diving deeply into making art as well, I started dipping my toe in, buying a few art supplies myself.  Maybe a little watercolor box (cheap, like kids use), some colored pencils, some markers.  I found a few Groupons for getting great discounts at art stores, and then I could really have some fun buying stuff.    I didn’t know what I was buying and I felt like a fake in the aisles, an art imposter, but bought them anyway.

And then I put all of them in this set of drawers by my writing desk,  and mostly never used them.  Occasionally, I might hesitantly give something a try, like dabbling with some water colors, playing around, but not much.  I had a yearning, but let all the discouraging voices in my head get the better of me.  Some supplies I never even opened…

banana crop

Banana in watercolor

But lately, those markers and pencils and paint, etc., are actually getting a workout.  I’ve been very interested in art journaling– following several artists online, looking at what others are doing, and I like the idea of combing my word-based journaling– which I’ve been doing for almost 40 years now, hard to believe!– with artsy creativity.  Some people are doing some really cool stuff out there.  I have such a yearning to express myself in a new, playful way.

So, I’ve been taking some online courses that are really helping me to do this.  One of them is by Brene Brown, based on her book “The Gifts of Imperfection,”– excellent class, and I’ll write more about this another time.  The other one is Sketchbook Skool, started by Danny Gregory, an artist I follow who does wonderful illustrated memoirs and teaches others to pursue art in their daily lives.  The class is 6 weeks long, with a different artist each week teaching the “klass” art habits, techniques, tips and tricks.

I debated whether or not to take the class.  It’s a busy time, and I was already taking other classes.  I kept talking myself out of it, and then feeling the yearning all over again.  I wanted to learn!  I wanted to give it a try!  I can’t really draw, have never felt confident about making art, but maybe I could just see what I can learn.

So I jumped in.

Sketches with colored pencils

Sketches with colored pencils

We’re now entering our 4th week of klass.  There are video lessons, forums, a Facebook group, and 2,000  people from all over the world are joining in.  People ask questions, post their drawings, make comments, share their excitement.  And it’s people of all levels– beginners and some very experienced artists.  That last part can be intimidating, but everyone has been very encouraging to us beginners.

I’m not sketching every day, but more than I was ever doing before, and I’m trying to draw things that had seemed “out of my league” before.  Like the guy who was sleeping on a couch in a cafe… he wasn’t moving and couldn’t tell I was drawing him, so I gave it a try.  Mostly what I’m finding is that if I can let go of “is this good or is this bad?” then I go into a zone where I’m looking at something closely, trying to see all the details in front of me, and trying to make my pen draw the lines I see.  It may turn out better than I thought or it may turn out crappy, but the experience of drawing feels good, feels peaceful and connected to the world.  And that is good enough for me for now.

If you’ve ever had any yearnings yourself toward art and drawing, give it a chance.  I highly recommend sketchbook Skool, which is going to have new sessions starting every season (check it out HERE).  or see if your library carries Danny Gregory’s “how to draw” book called “The Creative License:  How to Give Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are.”

You never know where it will lead!




  1. Ann Agrimson

    How fun and brave you are for trying something new! What a great example you are to me.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Aw shucks, Ann… I’m trying! It’s awkward and intimidating at times, but feels so good when I actually let myself just try it and allow myself to stumble and not be perfect. It’s good to let my inner artistic kid come out and play!

  2. Serena Asta

    Wow! You are totally rocking this art journal thing Theresa. Love your fresh fruit and vegetables. You make me want to go draw! 🙂 Congrats dear friend.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thanks, Serena– you know you’ve been especially inspiring to me as I watch all your adventures in art!

  3. Andrea

    I have felt the same way, stalking the art supply stores and even being nervous about talking to the clerks, sure they could tell I am an imposter. I’m doing art journaling too, loving that there are so many ways to do it and no “wrong” way.

    • Theresa Alberti

      I know… I’d still rather just walk around and figure things out on my own, not asking many questions. I’m sure they love questions at the art store; someday I’ll get more nerve! I’m glad to hear from another art-journaler, Andrea!

  4. Barb

    This is so cool! What I feel is the leadership of you modeling this scary process and making it not so scary for me. I love the sleeping man and connected him with the banana that is mysteriously more complex than it looks. Lovely post. Thank you.

    • Theresa Alberti

      I’m glad if I can be a model for anyone in these adventures, Barb! Thanks…

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