Sunday, 12 May 2013

Am I Really Cut Out For This?

This whole sketchbook gig terrified me to begin with.  I’ve never thought of myself as an artist, and I see a lot of artsy types in this group.  Needless to say, I was totally intimidated, and my first piece was a real struggle.  I decided to go with collage as my medium since I can’t actually draw anything, and then I did my best to block the whole project out of my mind until the Saturday before it was due. That day, I traipsed over to the Holland Village magazine stand and waddled away with more than $100 dollars worth of magazines.  I spent about eight hours that afternoon and evening flipping through pages, tearing things out, trimming edges, and spreading a wide variety of cutouts across the blank pages of my sketchbook.  Nothing looked right though.  I left a limp design on the page, shuffled dejectedly to bed, and hoped inspiration might strike overnight. 

When I woke up in the morning, the only inspiration I could find was a 50 dollar bill in my wallet, so I traipsed back over to the magazine stand, picked up another few magazines, and threw in a National Geographic for good measure.  When I sat down to my sketchbook again, I wiped it clean of cutouts and started over.   One of the things that had been bothering me was the white space lots of little cutouts tended to leave behind, so I started looking for interesting backgrounds. 

Then Scott Riley called.  I whined like a frustrated Kindergartener, told him I was not cut out for this gig (pun intended), and he said something that changed my perspective on the project completely.  He said, “You may not be an artist, Betsy, but you ARE a designer.”  It’s true.  I’ve always loved design.  When I was a kid, I used to play architect.  When I visit my parents during the summer, I enjoy rearranging their family room while they go to the store.  Here in Singapore, a number of friends have asked me to help them place their furniture, hang their art, showcase their tchotchkes, that sort of thing. 

So when I set down my phone and went back to my sketchbook, I looked at it with a designer’s eyes.  Quickly I realized that my problem before was that my page was a cluttered cacophony with no focus.  I needed to strip it down to the minimum, but still fill the page with something interesting that would also fulfill the theme.  National Geographic saved me.  In fact, it has played a part in each of my first three designs.  Now I try to complete each sketchbook entry with the fewest number of cutouts possible while still drawing people in with some combination of images they may not have thought to put together themselves. 

Maybe I AM cut out for this gig after all.     


  1. Betsy, I caught a peek at your first sketch in the flesh. It is AMAZING though perhaps your latest is the most stunning yet. Come and arrange my furniture any time!

  2. Me next, please! Could we start in S129...the MS Dance Studio!