Sketchbook Prompt #9 - The value of sketchbooking
How do we place value on the things in our life. Often, we have to weigh our options due to time. We ask the question “will this thing I want be the best use of my time?”. I do believe time is our most valuable resource. Time with our family, friends, our work, our community, our pets, garden, and hopefully ourself. Usually the self is the one that gets overlooked. This is common and unfortunate because without feeling nourished it is hard to be our best selves.
With that said, it seems easy to not spend time in a sketchbook. It is just one step toward a final process, why not just get to the big painting, or artist book or t-shirt design, or poem. Why spend that “valuable” time on the process. I thought this for a very very long time. However, it all changed once I allowed for my valuable time to take place in the sketchbook. My work flourished and so did I. I have more ideas, more ways of being free, more places to look back to when I am not sure what I want to make. When I don’t feel good or have anxiety, I go to my sketchbook and make work. It is a bit of a cure all for me, it distracts me, guides me, reminds me, intrigues me, inspires me.
I decided that it mattered, my art mattered, and I mattered. I wanted to have a library of work that would be a journey of my artistic life. One that could be easily accessed, loose papers always disappear even when I am most careful. The sketchbook is also wonderful to share. I teach at FSU and some of the most fun is to look through each others sketchbooks, to see what that other person is playing with. Be it content, ideas, materials, shapes, patterns, people. We are curious about the lives of others and this happens in the sketchbook.
Time in your sketchbook doesn’t have to take long. It can be once a week, several times a week, you may ignore it for a bit and then binge on it like a good bag of chips. Allow your relationship to be varied, it’s ok not to use it everyday. Decide how it fits best into your rhythms. I tend to make the most art over the Summer. This is where I have the most time and ideas just build up in me. I start to really fill the books up. But even when times are slow, I sometimes carry my sketchbook with me so I can make small drawings that might take 20 minutes. I’m always amazed how much time I spend waiting around and really I’d rather create than mindlessly flip through social media.
Setting your Intention -
Set your intention in the back of the book. This might changes every time you use start a new sketchbook. The idea is that the intention set will remind you and guide you to what you are seeking from the practice of using your sketchbook. This also helps to set forth why you are doing it in the first place. In the past, I have said “using a bigger brush, use both pages to create a larger spread, work with text and image, create patterns, think about images that could be used on clay”
There are a lot of sketchbooks out there. I adore Kunst and Papier binder board sketchbooks. But they are not always the easiest to find. I appreciate the varied sizes and how the paper seems to hold whatever I use on it. Here is one at ARTMATERIALSONLINE. Or for a different option Moleskin square sketchbooks are also excellent. If I didn’t have a handmade book or my beloved Kunst and Papier ones I would definitely use Strathmore 500 series mixed media softcover.
Supplies to create with. Of course anything is great, a no. 2 pencil, your favorite pen or that shared box of crayons that you have been carrying since you were 8. The most important thing is to create. However, I cannot say enough how good supplies enhance the work and often we value something more when we have the proper tools for the job. Here are my top picks to start off. Micron Pens multipack.
Brushes, of course there are a lot out there to try and fall in love with. I think these are a great economical version by Utrecht, lots of sizes so be sure to get a couple different so you can play with the variations. Windsor Newton Series 7 is what a lot of folks love. I have a couple of them and do really like them.
To make it easy on yourself it’s great to get a travel pack of watercolors so you can use it anywhere. For $12 this is unbeatable by Winsor Newton. This is the one I use when I am out and about. Watercolor will be more transparent. You can also pick up these brushes by Pentel that hold water so you don’t even need to have water with you.
There are different ideas out there about Gouache and what brand to use. I think they are all great but beware that there are different varieties for a reason. I use Acryla gouache, these are very matte and are not reworkable. They lean more toward Acrylic paint but are smoother. Once you put down the paint in your tray and it dries, it can not be worked again. However, Winsor Newton gouache can be worked well after you squirted your paint out. So you can mix colors walk away for hours and reuse that color again. This is a major perk.
Colored pencils can be a lot of fun and again, there are a lot of choices. My top 2 would be Prismacolor which is available all over even Costco or Caran d’Ache for beautiful lightfast waterproof colored pencils. There whole line of pencils is wonderful.
Go forth and explore!