Reframing and Reclaiming

It would be nice to say “Oh, Sketchbook Revival is here, and I’m back in the studio again!” I suppose I could say that because, true enough, I have been playing around a bit, and it is because of Sketchbook Revival. I don’t really want to say it, though, because it makes it sound as if all is well in my world of art, and that I’m happily back to drawing, painting, and all the other things I used to do here. 

Nope. I’m not quite here — or there — yet. But I have come to the studio a few times. I’ve grabbed a watercolor brush and my sketchbook. I’ve played a little with my gansai and with a watercolor set.  Mostly, I’ve been playing with my emotions, and that may or may not be considered “art”. Maybe I can just call it all part of my on-going “art therapy” and leave it at that. 

I was looking forward to Sketchbook Revival 2023 — which is still happening — but rather than eager anticipation, I was approaching it more from a curiosity point of view. Could I make it through Sketchbook Revival? Could I actually follow along with the demonstrations and get back into the habit of making art every day? Would it really jump-start my creativity? 

The short answer is “No,” but if you’ve read this blog for very long, you’ll know that, with me, there are never any short answers. There are always stories to tell, thoughts to ponder, and lots of jumbled ideas that lead from one place to another and back again. 

My Sketchbook Revival participation to this point — 9 days into the program — has been very limited. I chose to skip over the first “pre-workshop” tutorial entirely because it involved “upcycling books”, and I do not and will not “modify” any hard-bound book. Nope. Not me. I can’t. I won’t. 

I did, however, make an attempt to do the second “pre-workshop” tutorial, and it proved to be a disaster. It was all about “Reframing” — and honestly, I didn’t really understand the concept. For me, it wasn’t about “reframing” — or “re-stating” anything. It was simply raw emotion. Perhaps I should quickly explain that the idea of “reframing” was to take negative thoughts and see them from a different perspective. Other participants came away with positive words and affirmations that made them feel good about their art. Here, as an example, is Karen Abend’s “reframing”.

Karen, by the way, is the founder of Sketchbook Revival. She does an awesome job of putting the workshops together every year. She also does an awesome job of following along with the individual instructors. Here, you’ll see, she’s taken negative self-talk and has reframed those words in positive ways. Instead of dealing with “Self-Doubt”, she’s changed it to “Self Love”. That was the idea behind all of this, but I missed that altogether. 

My sketchbook page is nothing more than emotions — a lot of anger and sadness — and a lot of color. At least, there’s color. That’s about the only “artsy” thing about it.



  1. Expressionism might be a style that suits you well. It can be really satisfying to be able to use your emotions right in the artwork. I can see you are already doing this is in some of the work you have shown us. You can still do the more realistic art anytime you wish anyways.

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    1. I’ve been thinking along those lines… mostly I want to do “art projects” that do let me express the pent-up emotions I’ve been feeling, simple things that don’t really have to be called “art”. 🙂

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  2. This sounds so useful. I’ve been exploring Childhood Emotional Neglect in my own life, and the process feels very similar. Painful, at times, but also liberating as we hear what our emotions are telling us.

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  3. My very first realization, or epiphany(?) about art came about a year into doing it regularly. I had begun to get involved with the local arts community and was chosen to do an interview for a local TV program. We weren’t told what kinds of questions would be asked and, being a planner this worried me- a LOT. But ironically, the question came up and my whole approach to art was revealed as a result.It was completely unexpected, and freeing. I was asked “what motivates or drives you to create?” Without thinking ( i wanted to appear savvy and professional) i said “well, as i see it, no “good” art comes from happiness” …immediately i felt guilty, like i had just exposed myself as a fraud and/or offended someone , and was paranoid that no one would ever take me seriously ever again..but you know what? The host( very well respected creative in the community) stopped , looked at me oddly for a few seconds and said “hmm…you know you are right ” and then launched into several minutes talking about Bob Ross and Van Gogh and how our deepest fears, anger, and sadness is usually what is behind our creative endeavors. It was only after that that i began to get comfortable in my art ability, and started creating my best work- without trying so damned hard!

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