When I was in college, all my art classes listed a sketchbook as a required supply. I got kind of sick carrying around sometimes 4 wire bound books. I was so glad to find some regular book bound type and switched some of my sketchbooks over them those. In the beginning, I didn’t see the use for these sketchbooks and would rather use sheets of paper. But as loose papers do, those sheets went missing, torn edges and some looked like I dropped them in the parking lot and cars drove over them. I looked a bit like the Peanuts character, “Pig Pen,” though I had art supplies and papers instead of dirt and dust. I was into my second year when all became clear. I had my drawing board that had big clips to hold paper and such and a huge rubber band. It was easy to keep things contained and I didn’t lose so much as I hiked around campus.
Fast forward to being a full fledge adult and taking more art classes. A sketchbook was my end-all and be-all. I used it to take notes on with a lecture. I jotted down names of artists I wanted to investigate. I also drew little thumbnails in the margins. I tried different colors of pencils, markers, inks, watercolors, acrylics, and more. I wasn’t told to have my sketchbook handy, I did it on my own. I wanted to keep track of everything from a simple watercolor class to a big 11 day intensive workshop. I took that sketchbook with me when I’d go back to my hotel room also, going over the day.
Why am I talking about this now? Why do we need sketchbooks now and what good are they? They will help you in your art practice no matter what you are creating. If you are a quilter, embroidery artist, weaver, ceramicist, welder, musician, illustrator, jewelry designer, or any other art practice, you need a sketchbook. Making little sketches, thumbnails, value studies, swatching paint colors and most of all IDEAS. Sometimes your best inspiration comes from your sketchbook.
In the past 10 years or so, not counting our shut down I have used and been working in 14 different sketchbooks. Some are for watercolor and mixed media, some are for those classes that I took live. I go back and perusing them for ideas. I have many sketch drawing tablets but I go back to one of my sketchbooks all the time. As I work at getting my muse going, I use my sketchbooks.
The safety of a sketchbook allows me to be FREE in what I put down. No one will see it unless I want to share. I can write anything I want.
Take your time picking out your sketchbook. Check out the list at the end of this post. There are so many to choose from. Paper is the first thing I check. Do I want this one for drawing/sketching? Do I want to play with watercolors or try new colors? Do I want one that is pocket size or as big as 10”x12”? Do I want a spiral bound or a book bound? By the way, if you are a lefty like me, spiral can be a pain unless you work backwards in the book. There are also paper color options. I have a small pocket size sketchbook for sketching from Moleskine. The paper is a soft almost butter color and it creates some warm sketches.
I hope that you use a sketchbook or if you don’t have one, get one. You will be amazed if you keep your sketchbook practice up and make it a habit. Leave me a comment if you love sketchbooks and what kind you have. Or, leave a comment if you don’t use them and why not. I’ll be interested in your thoughts.
Keep creating everyday.
Here are a few links of sketchbooks to check out.