Friday, April 1, 2011

Branching Out - Out on a Limb

Jane Davies here with the April theme announcement...

Since the Sketchbook Challenge began I have been using it as way to stretch my abilities, challenge my perceived boundaries, and expand my vocabulary of artistic expression. It is evident from the hundreds of entries on the flickr site that many of you are doing the same. You can usually tell from looking at a drawing/painting/sketch whether the artist is playing it safe or taking risks. I love seeing the entries on flickr that teeter on the edge of the artist's comfort zone!

This month's theme is Branching Out, which means expanding your skills, sprouting new ideas, discovering unknown territory. The flip side of that is Out on a Limb, which means taking risks, facing fear of failure, getting into your discomfort zone, facing your Inner Critic, and taking the plunge with courage.

Getting out of your comfort zone, pushing your boundaries, sounds all well and good, but being uncomfortable does not. Sometimes being uncomfortable leads (me, anyway) to art tantrums, or worse, running back to the safe zone. However, if you practice allowing that discomfort and continuing on with courage (and without judgment), you will find that, more often than not, you will branch out. You will learn to recognize that queasy feeling as an indication that you are about to discover something new. It is like the City Limits sign on the edge of your comfort zone.

I am suggesting to you that this month try at least one page in your sketchbook (and I know you'll do more once you experience the freedom that Branching Out inspires) devoted to trying something new, something that really challenges you, even something that inspires fear of failure. Do something that your Inner Critic knows you can't do! There is no failure or "can't do" in branching out; when you are honestly challenging yourself you will always be treated by a surprise. Remember, only you can know if you are truly branching out. One person's safe zone is another's unknown territory. Oh, and don't forget to have fun!!!

Here are two sketchbook entries in which I am branching out and out on a limb. I'm searching for some way to use these circles that I've been doodling in my sketchbook:

Also some layering, maybe masks and stencils.... I don't know what I want the pieces to look like, but I am deliberately throwing myself off balance. I LOVE that about the skektchbook: I don't feel any need to "resolve" a piece or find an answer. Just sending out the question is enough.

April's theme is: Branching Out - Out on a Limb

How to be eligible for prize drawings:

In order to be eligible for one of April's prize packages you must post at least one photo of a sketchbook page related to April's theme (announced on 4/1) to the Sketchbook Challenge Flickr group and you MUST tag one of your photos with the code "apr378".
It is not necessary to tag more than one and it will not increase your chances of winning.

Information on how to upload photos to flickr can be found

Winners will be chosen based on random draw on 4/30/11 and announced on the Sketchbook Challenge blog either on that day or on 5/1/11.


  1. I, too, have some doodles I've wanted to expand and pursue as mixed media, but haven't known quite how to begin. I'm going to take a tip from you and begin experimenting with them in ways I've shied away from.

    I hope this month's theme works like last months because unfortunately, last month, my day job was spilling over, leaving no time or energy for art. If so, that means this month I should find many opportunities to branch out!

  2. Thank you for your encouraging--and empowering--words. I think I can, I think I can...

  3. I like the theme too. though, i may branch in instead of out.

  4. I am LOVING the new theme for

    Thought I'd let you know that the little blurb about posting to flickr to be eligible for the prizes says "Februarys theme" rather than "April's...."

    "In order to be eligible for one of April's prize packages you must post at least one photo of a sketchbook page related to Februarys theme (announced on 2/1) to the Sketchbook Challenge Flickr group and you MUST tag one of your photos with the code "apr378"."

  5. Thanks for the comments, and for the correction, Suze. I love the idea of "branching IN"!!

  6. Great theme!!!
    I need to do my spill over too!
    I am enjoying this challenge!!

  7. Thanks Jane for this month's theme. I'm such a scribbler and throw everything at the page that I might need my branching out to be something like 'be more precise and restrained!'. I've just posted a page from last month's theme on my's been pretty quiet lately.

  8. Perfect theme! I love this, Jane. I will be branching out as I fly off to Italy this Thursday and taking this idea with me. Thanks

  9. As it happens, I am going on a nature field trip with my son's class for five days tomorrow so I am looking forward to bringing my sketchbook with me and going out on a limb with my art!

    I'll check back in the following week.


  10. Your challenge seems to be cosmically connected to my current happenings. I was asked to paint a tree for my son's wedding as part of the guest sign in...I have been doubting my ability to take on this project since the request...I guess I WILL be branching out!
    Thanks for the push.

  11. Love this theme and LOVE THIS COLLAGE!!!!

  12. This is the perfect choice for a theme! I'm fairly new to sketching & have started the Sketchbook Challenge to force me to be more adventurous - there so much to learn. My sketchbook blog is at
    - hope this is the right place to tell you, if not please delete.

  13. I just put mine on

  14. I've decided to experiment with collage in my sketchbook since I've never been very good at it. I'm having fun, but I'm also afraid to finish some pages because I don't want to mess up what I already have and like!

  15. I'm so enjoying this challenge and watching this blog! My March and April sketching is a bit of a fudge, but I got slowed down by a minor op and a baby sitting commitment!

  16. I went with food for this month. On my honeymoon, I ate or tried everything, including escargot. Never again! No amount of garlic can make me eat them again.

  17. I added another tree!

  18. Okay, I did it! My first challenge since deciding I would participate.You can see my sketch at the Flickr group. :-)

  19. I'm new here. In the month of April I have certainly been 'branching out-out on a limb'. I have enrolled in an art class and have been doing a variety of things. Actually I started exploring art last fall. I have a blog which chronicles the whole thing. In particularly, the month of April shows things from my class, as well as some of my own creations. As far as sketchbooks, I began doing daily sketching on April 15 and posted those. One in particular involves the lake and the road leading to the lake. My blog is

  20. the challenge is so good for me, bec. I don't usually drawing! And the theme was perfect! My little pet bird's home is out on a limb, in the front yard!


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