At the Angoulême comics festival, I was having a late business meeting with someone in a pub that prides itself on serving American beer (Bud) and burgers (I don’t know what it was, but I had a weird allergic reaction to it later; let’s blame the Bearnaise sauce). The bartender brought around a big sketchbook, asked if we were artists, and quite charmingly asked us to add our own sketches to the many pages by other comic artists in it. My dinner companion zipped through a funny drawing of a duck. I stared and stared at the page in a panic. I drew one thing, then covered it with another, then tried to fix it with colours as I eventually managed to sort-of draw the Library soldier with a bag of comics. The barkeep came back for the sketchbook, and maybe it was his crushing sneer of disdain when he looked at my page that brought on the allergic reaction. (I didn’t take a pic of the drawing. I consider it to non-exist.)
Expecting something like his reaction is why I freeze when faced by a blank page.I have dozens of blank notepads, some large, some small, and one that’s barely as large as my thumb. I can’t resist acquiring them and I love getting them as gifts. Hardcover, softcover, perfect bound, wire bound, cream paper, ivory, icy white paper, rough and toothy, smooth as glass, blank, lined, graph, French-ruled, and dotted. Every time I draw in one I feel like I’m ruining it with bad, sloppy, juvenile scribbling, an ill-conceived mess of a doodle, terrible garbage. If I tear it out, I’m frustrated by how the perfect little sketchbook is no longer perfect. This was stopping me from using any of these sketchbooks at all. I’ll ruin them!
So, I’ve decided, if everything I draw is garbage, why not just treat it that way? Draw any sort of trash on a page, no matter how horrible it looks, then tear it out and throw it away. Go into the notebook knowing it’s going to be consumed, not filed away for later appreciation; don’t feel bad about tearing the pages out and never seeing them again. No need to be paralysed by how I can’t elegantly fill a Moleskine or what-have-you like so many other people manage to do. Draw something, anything, then toss it immediately.
Dare to use a blank page. Draw without fear, because it doesn’t matter if the notebook is trashed. That’s the point.
Then destroy the evidence.