The following is an unedited, stream-of-consciousness personal journal used to experiment with different subjects outside of assignments and to practice free-writing. It shouldn't (at all) be viewed as a portfolio of polished work.

To see examples of my professional writing, please visit For photography, please visit or my Instagram channel @ginabegin.

Drawing from Outdoor Inspiration

This was the first time I'd sat down to draw in a very long time.

Back when I was studying landscape architecture, one of the professors told us to get a journal and sketch every day. Being able to convey ideas quickly on paper, she said, was a key skill when interacting with clients.

I was keen. I'd been drawing all my life, never through an academic requirement, but just because I never stopped picking up crayons and pencils from the time I was a kid.

So, in the university bookstore, I made my way over to the art section, picked up a recycled-paper sketchbook and sat down in the courtyard outside of the Fine Arts Building.

My pen was held motionless above my paper.

I recapped it.

Over time, I realized that my biggest inspirations for getting that pen to lay down ink came from the ambling of tree roots over rocky soil, the clouds that billowed in the sky, and mountain scapes. Most of that was out of sight in that initial moment in the courtyard.

But there was a tree. Its bark was a mess, there was a hollow into its core, and the limbs stretched over my head. I drew it, and as I drew it morphed from being in the courtyard to being a lone soldier standing guard on a cliffside I'd never visited.

A year later, the pen was recapped again. I'd finished landscape architecture—or rather, I transferred schools. Then there was a ton of busyness: my nonprofit and writing and living in my car. And some other life events that just don't matter anymore.

My sketchbook sat in a box while I was busy, many of its pages still blank and waiting for graphite to dust or ink to blot its surface again.

That busyness of life overwhelmed me, the learning of skills consumed me. I had no time for leisurely drawing the trees around me or the mountainscapes I was skiing and climbing in. I needed to learn how to code websites, perfect my photography, make my content more compelling, and write like mad, not to mention keep up with social media and make sure the never-ending list of business books and podcasts were not ignored.

Learning is possibly my biggest obstacle in life. It never ends, it's never quenched, and it keeps me from actually executing. I'm a perfectionist. It's my curse.

I unpacked my sketchbook a couple of weeks ago. It'd been in a box in Utah, 900 miles away, for several years. It was in worse shape. I no longer had the pens and pencils I used during my architecture courses. But I had yellow #2 pencil with an eraser. It was just the kind I had as a kid.

This morning, with my sketchbook in front of me and yellow pencil in hand, I looked out at the trees and mountains surrounding me from my kitchen window.

There's graphite dusting the pages again.

1 comment:

  1. You and your twin brother drew from the time you could hold a pencil. Your techniques quickly improved as you studied every detail and were able to go beyond the reality to capture and personify the intent of the picture. You did this, as well, with words to convey feelings and build plots by covertly expressing the dreams and/or fears of individuals. What talent there is in you, only to be released by micro-bursts of choice. I love that you are once again exploring the myriad of talents you have been given... now, to see the creation of your Sugared Magnolia once more in bloom!


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