In which Theresa draws back the curtain on her sketch-a-day exercise

Do you make mistakes?  Do you allow yourself to try something even if it seems unpolished or raw?  Recently I’ve been reading a few writer-friends’ blog posts in which they shared their thoughts about their writing or their creative struggles, which were raw and unpolished.  I so admire their courage to do so!  Wouldn’t we all rather show only the good stuff, the finished work, the writing we are especially proud of?  But because I have learned much from these courageous writer-friends’ divulging of their mistakes or start-overs or trial-and-error writings, today I am sharing a post from my private journal, one of my “sketch-a-day” exercises, with you.  It’s not pretty or finished in some places, but maybe by publishing it, we will connect, over our mistakes, or over the experiments we try in the pursuit of art.  Here it is.

Sketch-a-day exercise

I made up this exercise for myself.  How does it work?  First I find a photo image (Creative Commons Flickr) suggested by a line of poetry from the Poetry Foundation‘s Poem of the Day.  Then I do a trace-sketch of the photo image and I also write a brief (100-200 words, or less) piece inspired by the photo and the poetry line.  Finally, I write a short reflection on what it was like to write and sketch for this day’s exercise.  Here is my most recent one.


Sketch by Theresa Barker.

“Amber husk/fluted with gold,/fruit on the sand/marked with a rich grain . . .” -H.D., “Sea Poppies”

She comes from Church Street in Bethlehem – Pennsylvania.  Not unlike the messiah.  Her people were mystics, born in the 1850s (parents), the 1820s (grandparents), but only on her mother’s side.  The father’s side is all science, an academic astronomer.  The father moved the family away from Salvation Street when she was nine.  With only brothers, she became radicalized for feminism.  She blends her artistic and religious inspiration through her mother’s line to become a recognized female poet and writer among the expat literary Americans in Europe and England in the early half of the twentieth century.  She takes on a new mysterious poet identity, “H. D.”

Lover to Ezra Pound early on, but confined by him artistically and then betrayed by him romantically, she seeks a woman lover, Frances Gregg, but eventually she is betrayed by the woman Gregg and Pound both.

It is the thrill of a golden sight on the beach that inspires her poem “Sea Poppies,” and it is the thrill of a golden shell that inspires my writing for today.

Day 32.  Seashell.  Ah.  This imagined bio of H.D. started out well, then … petered out.  Oh, well, that’s how it goes at times.  At least I learned more about H. D. than before.  And what a shame! – that she let Pound edit and criticize her poems.  Such a struggle it is to be a poet, now, or back in her time.

Sketching – I was surprised to discover the curves on the seashell are not just half-circles when I drew this.  They “hop over” the top of “horizon” of the shell, upper part.  I didn’t really do this justice, but I’m learning!  I have to be more forgiving of myself and my efforts.  I liked doing the contrasting shading, though I see now that wasn’t quite the exact effect from the photo, but that’s okay – now I know.  And I liked the little squiggles I did on the page of writing in the background.  That was good!  🙂

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


What did you think? This is an imagined biographical sketch of H.D. (poet from the early-to-mid 20th Century).  I sometimes like to read a little about a poet or author, and then write my own imagined biographical sketch of the poet. I suppose it’s practice imagining a character’s point of view. It’s fun for me! – that’s mainly why I do it – often writing feels like WORK and not like FUN – so, I revel in this!

Do you have a routine for yourself of a small creative practice?  Or do you try to make everything count toward a final product?  There is no one “RIGHT” way, so relax – no one is judging you.  – This is what I often have to tell myself.

Thank you for listening to my small private sharing today!

20 thoughts on “In which Theresa draws back the curtain on her sketch-a-day exercise

    1. Ah! But you do a lovely job of showing work-in-progress versions of your photographs and narrating the process, which is partly what I was trying for as well. 🙂 (Yes, I have stuff that does not see the blog light of day too!)

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  1. I really connected with this sentence: “I sometimes like to read a little about a poet or author, and then write my own imagined biographical sketch of the poet.” I have always been fascinated by people’s mini-bio’s and when one isn’t available – I make one up. 🙂 Regarding “unpolished” works – I have been posting about my experiences with learning to tat lace. It was a little difficult to make that first post – the pictures were not good, neither in quality nor content. I had no idea when I started posting about it if I would ever get better at tatting. I’m not sure why I hesitated to post about it – the crafting community is extremely supportive. I am a very confident person, but to knowingly put something ‘out there’ that I know is not close to being good really tested that ‘confidence armor’. 🙂

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    1. I know! Tami, your tatting posts were in my mind when I wrote this, could you tell? Thank you for mentioning the hesitation. Me, too. Perhaps it is related to that social media “everything is good” aura that people often wrap themselves. I mean, to feel more secure, not intending dishonesty. Thank you, I feel affirmed! 🙂

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      1. I’m sure it’s a mixed bag of intending dishonesty and needing to feel more secure. Theresa I feel like you’re writing every post with me in mind – I know that is not the case – it is a testament to your writing style and how you create a more intimate experience for your audience. That’s why you are such an excellent cheerleader and motivational coach – I for one feel like you are ALWAYS talking to just me. 😀

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      2. Oh my gosh. I am so honored. … I do find so much satisfaction in hearing your story(ies) and your voice, in concert with a wonderfully intimate-feeling community of fellow blogger-writers. In fact, I was just working on a new Tattoo Girl installment this morning, and in my mind I can picture you and the others when I write it. Such a gift for a writer (like me)! Thank you, Tami! ❤️

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  2. Nothing to hide here, Theresa. This is even better than some of my finished works. Haha! I write everything. I write everywhere when I get an idea. I voice-record when I can’t write. Some will never be used but others I feel the need to publish. These works connect us more to the community than the polished finished works which are already for the readers to enjoy. I think I’m pretty raw. This writing is the “human” in the artist. 🙂

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      1. Thank you my friend. I think the year started me off realizing I love being a writer more than being an Accountant although I like what I do, too. ☺ And ideas run away so I’m always making notes. Haha.

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