As I mentioned yesterday, I am hoping to become much better friends with my sketchbook in 2013. There is something to be said about collecting thoughts, visuals, ephemera, and ideas between pretty, patterned and colorful bound pages. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but sketchbooking regularly can help things surface in your work and make them more obvious: trends, themes, subconscious thoughts, exploration, successes, failures, starting points, etc. I wanted to share a bunch of ways to make sketchbooking easy, approachable and fun, because you can do so much more than just draw in your sketchbook! Get messy: paint, draw, scribble, tape, scratch, even cut! Gone are the days where you should worry about marker bleed-through, or squishing paint over the edges of the page: sometimes those ghost images from previous pages can help inspire your next creation. Have you ever heard of “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith? Essentially each page has a prompt to get you instantly making and creating, instead of being intimidated by the blank page. For those looking to go on a creative sketchbooking adventure with NO limitations, you should pick this one up, or check out this Flickr group where people share their finished “wrecked” pages. Slap it on there: collage, attach, tape, glue, or tuck in little bits of memorabilia. As someone who loves to look at visual clutter for inspiration (have you seen my studio walls?) it makes sense to create little visual collections in a sketchbook as well; there just aren’t enough walls to hang up all the awesome paper ephemera I come across. Add in colored/textured/patterned papers, tape down a cool image, glue in bits and bobs, slap on a sticker or stamp, etc. Adding any or all of these things creates visual interest, layers and texture, and can also be inspiration for mixed media layers, or an adjacent page. A person who never turns a book page without adding a little ephemera or a line of washi tape to it, is my pal Zie Campbell who loves to do Smashbooking (just like a sketchbook with a scrapbooking twist). Just Doodle: no one said it has to instantly be a masterpiece! One of the greatest things about a sketchbook is that there shouldn’t be any expectations. You aren’t drawing on a fancy rag paper, or an expensive canvas… it’s just ONE page of a big book, so don’t be scared! Just doodle from your mind, draw a quick silly cartoon, sketch from a photograph, or go for a walk and draw your surroundings. It may be one of the best drawings you ever make (amazing things happen when there are no expectations or pressure), or if your drawing turns out poorly and you’re unhappy with it, it can easily be covered with paints or collage so that you can start a new image with a fresh approach (like above). My friend Ella Masters always makes my heart melt with her adorable little sketchbook illustrations. She usually just explores using graphite with subtle splashes of watercolor or colored pencil, and her doodles often stem as inspiration her larger creations/bodies of work, like her recent series of bearded/tattooed men.
I hope my new sketchbook pages, the few of the artists I’ve shared, and the three media tips help get you exploring and doodling with me! It feels good to have a renewed dedication to an artistic outlet I have always enjoyed. I’ll make sure to continue sharing my progress in the New Year, along with other art techniques, and be sure to share yours as well (either with a link in the comments below or e-mail me).
And so I’ll end this post with one hand waving goodbye to 2012, and the other holding a sketchbook for 2013.
I am bursting with excitement because I get to share more progress photos of my collaborative project with Anika Starmer (@aisforanika). We have been drawing together in a pair of sketchbooks with our imagery centered around her love of patterns & color and mine of paws & animals. If this is the first you have heard of the project, click here, here, here and here to watch the gradual evolution that these two sketchbooks have encountered over the past year. This time I get to share the imagery that I’ve recently added to these bound beauties. I should first start by saying that I hadn’t seen these books in several months, so I’d been itching to work on them. I collected a bit of ephemera and found objects as I waited patiently for Anika’s reply. The images and creativity were well worth the wait (to learn more about her ideas and process you ought to read her recent blog post) and they were so inspiring that I found it impossible to put the project aside. Also, I am a natural born procrastinator, and so with several demanding projects on the front burner, it was only normal that I gravitated to a project that had no deadline. Oh murphy, you & your laws. The first diptych response I created was to a colourful stamped pattern that made me yearn for spring: bright flowers and beautiful birds. It instantly made me think of a beautiful paper napkin that was gifted to me in mail art. Ironically almost all of the colours in the design are in Anika’s pattern and the texture in the birds feathers are made up of blank dots! I used a fun packing tape transfer technique that works great with paper napkins or old book illustrations. (quick DIY: lay clear packing tape down smoothly onto the image, burnish hard with a spoon, soak in cold water, rub the paper off gently until just the ink is left in the adhesive of the tape, stick onto your art surface). Anika’s second diptych reminded me of mountains, but because the triangles were stacked on top of each other, they felt like floating space mountains – an imaginary landscape that made me think of Schim Schimmel’s creations of gorgeous animals laying on the edge of planetary bodies. I had come across this paw print image in a 1968 outdoorsman magazine & the color palette and texture of the earth felt moon-like to me. If we could zoom in on Anika’s floating mountains, we’d see space tigers roaming the surface, leaving their paw prints wherever they go.After that were the two page spreads where we work over top of each other’s drawings. I love when this talented lady creates these incredible all-over grid patterns. They make me feel so warm, like a cottage quilt. The patterning and intricacy is truly remarkable. I didn’t want to mess this page up, as it was already quite full and content in its simplicity and lovely mark making; so since she did patterns, I decided I’d do paws. It instantly felt like a happy marriage. I might also note that the paws have subtle metallic green and purple sparkles within them, which help to highlight the tones that Anika selected.The next three spreads were for me to start, and for Anika to add to later. The first of which was another full two page spread that the both of us would draw on. I started with this grid inspired paint pallet for us both to draw inspiration from. I had recently found these holographic cards in a thrift shop that show humans morphing into animals and vice-versa, so I cropped out feet/paws (from two that had an eagle) into square shapes that matched the grid. I outlined it with one of the colors from the paint pallet and I drew eagle portraits in larger grid boxes above. I wonder how Anika will interpret and add to these grids and the morphing humans / birds of prey. The next couple of images I’m really proud of: using acrylics, I created beautiful impressionistic field landscapes with wildflowers and summer blue skies as a backdrop for some found ephemera from the same vintage hunting magazine. Although the circles around the ptarmigans are meant to be kill shot references for hunters, I see something different: there is something more ethereal about them to me… more so of an aura or a soul. I get a spiritual energy type of feeling from the circle, not a suggestion of conquest or murder as is originally intended. The circle has always been a peaceful shape in my mind. I predict soft colours and the circular motif to surface in Anika’s response. The final set of images visits the beauty and simplicity of dog paws again. I did some gestural painting with purples and teals, made a beautiful solvent transfer onto rice paper, added it over my wet paint and continued with a few more brushstrokes. Something that I love about these two images is that when the books are together you can almost picture the entire creature! Do you believe we are officially halfway through this collaborative project (can you spot the stitched spine in the last photograph)? I am so proud of where these sketchbooks have gone and what they continue to grow into. So, what do you think?! Anika and I would love to hear your feedback; don’t be shy, let us know your thoughts below!