mouthstick

"Become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable"

Brett Colonell is one of thousands of artists finding inspiration with the Sktchy iPhone app. Here’s a peek at his collection of Sktchy portraits with a few words from the artist.

What’s your background?

I’ve been a creative busybody since I was young. Even though I enjoyed sketching, I got my degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA after that. However, during that time I sustained a severe spinal cord injury. This left me permanently paralyzed from the neck down and searching for a career path that would best suit my situation. In fact, it was the injury that forced me to try sketching again, and I think it’ll be an interesting ride to see where it takes me as I progress.

When you’re looking for inspiration in the Sktchy photo gallery, what jumps out at you?

I’m still relatively new to the Sktchy community, but an elegant or unique pose and long hair always grab my attention. Plus, I seem to have a thing for black-and-white photos and will even change a photo from color to black-and-white before I draw it. But that’s not always the case.

What’s your medium of choice when you’re creating a portrait?

I primarily use the app Paper by FiftyThree on my iPad, and if I want to add my own creative touch to the photo I’ll use SketchBook Pro. I like being free to just start drawing and not feel intimidated about the possibility of making a mistake. If a stroke or two doesn’t look right, I can simply undo it.

What’s one quirk in your creative process?

I’m all about problem-solving when it comes to my creative process. Being paralyzed below my neck means having to draw with a stylus attached to a mouthstick that I bite on. I think that’s pretty quirky and would love it if others would just try to sign their name on a piece of paper with pencil in their mouth. Just for fun.


Can you share one art-making tip?

You have to become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Comparing your work to somebody else’s work who’s better is uncomfortable. But it lets you know what you need to improve on. You could be on the cusp of some of your best work, but at that particular point in time it might look like such a mess that you’re uncomfortable to even look at it yourself. But if you keep working at it, something clicks and it all starts to come together. We’re all capable of doing more than we think we can. It just means you have to put yourself in an uncomfortable place.

Get the Sktchy iPhone app to see more of Brett’s portraits and the photos that inspired them.