It’s usually rare (or the result of a massive effort) when my energy level matches motivation. But, recently, I found myself in this unique position. I was focused. I’d prepared and organized my tasks. And then, of course, as soon as I put a pencil to paper – everything looked like garbage.

About an hour and piles of scrapped paper later, I finally admitted, “this isn’t working.”

I stepped away from my desk, got a glass of water, and finally took out my sketchbook.

Gary Pepper Girl in gorgeous head to toe black, fashion illustration by Katie Cadamatre

Miraculously, I could draw again. What was the deal!? Some could say that since I’d gone through other “failed” versions, my brain was primed for the final. Others might suggest the smaller dimensions of the sketchbook might have been more familiar to me. And, easier to work with.

But really, I think the most noteworthy thing that changed… was my mindset.

A beautiful crisp (expensive) piece of watercolor paper carries a certain level of intimidation. A sketchbook is a place for play, problem-solving, and mistakes.

Nicole Warne (right) is a stunner as ever, fashion illustration by Katie Cadamatre

I was working with the right balance of confidence and abandon, self-doubt and hesitation gone. It’s not a concept I’m unfamiliar with. And, it’s something I’m going to continue to try overcoming. A good place to start will be to do more on “nicer” paper. The more regular it feels, the less intimidating it will become.

If you ever find yourself backed into a dead end, try approaching the issue with a different mindset. Psyche yourself out and see if that helps.