More thoughts on keeping a sketchbook

I want to make a pretty book

Initially I was thinking of collecting all my free-standing sketches into one book but I couldn’t find a way to organize them into a cohesive whole.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: 1) unknown source, 2) unknown source, 3) figures from plate 111 of 100 Views of Edo by Hiroshige, 4) from Twin Pines, Level Distance by Zhao Mengfu, 5) automatic drawing, 6) automatic drawing 

I then thought of cutting a bunch of charcoal paper to fit a specific size, drawing on them and then eliminating the pages that I didn’t like before putting them all together. It was the consistency of the pages that did a lot of the work that made the sketchbook — as an art project — cohesive.

I then realized I was getting distracted by the idea of making a book.

Book making still interests me but the goals meant for that kind of work gave me a reason to neglect the goals for using a sketchbook.

But what are my goals? 

I think having rules can be helpful. Jonan Lehrer’s article, “Need to Create? Get a Constraint,” for Wired, breaks down a study by Janina Marguc, et al, that looks into the psychology of how obstacles can help free up one’s creativity.

There’s also an interesting article by Ruthe V for the Seattle Artist League blog that gives examples of artists who overcame obstacles (not of their choosing) and incorporated them into their artwork.

Not forgetting the question of “What do I like?” I let my mind wander and focused on the question, What are “good” combinations?

Charcoal on newspaper print. Or any intense color to stand out on a grey background — the grey having a way of setting a certain mood.

Clockwise from Left top: 1) automatic drawing, 2) automatic drawing, 3) from photograph of Chauvet cave paintings as published in Drawing, by Teel Sale, et al, page 6, 4) automatic drawing

Orange or red or burnt sienna on cream toned drawing paper. Like the drawings from the Italian Renaissance. (I don’t have pictures for this.)

Confidence and the blank page

I’m also addressing the fear of making “mistakes” by imposing the following rule – “No pencil.”

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: 1) Lily, 2) Lily, 3) Foxglove, 4) Foxglove, 5) Squirrel, 6) Squirrel

Not allowing myself to use pencil meant I couldn’t erase anything and might get me out of the habit of compulsively making everything “perfect.”

Moreover, the constraint or focus of having to “save” a drawing after making a “mistake” compelled me to be creative in how to compose — IE experimenting with what colors work well side by side, creating layers and adding depth — which was often not intended.


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