Above is a photo of some of my sketchbooks. They range in size from little 4" x 6" sketch pads to 18" x 24"s (not pictured.) A few of the sketches in these sketchbooks are included below. I consider sketchbooks to be indispensable tools for developing and continuing visual arts skills and ideas to any degree. Painters aren't the only ones who use them. Sculptors, illustrators, potters, architects, furniture designers and many others find them invaluable to their creativity and productivity.
In the past few years I've slacked off on sketching. In a conversation I had with the recently retired director of the Springville Museum, Vern Swanson, he emphasized the importance of using lots of sketchbooks. That is where ideas are discovered and developed, information gathered, and skills sharpened. I realized I needed to get back to actively using sketchbooks. Now I keep sketchbooks in my car, my day packs, and accessible wherever I go. I try to use them every day.
This is the first of an on-going series about using sketchbooks, at least from my perspective. These posts will appear on this blog from time to time. Many of the sketches in these posts will be from older sketchbooks, and as the series progresses, it'll begin to include more recent sketches. There are several other posts already in this blog about sketching. you're welcome to explore those by clicking on "sketching" on the "Labels" sidebar and following the links.
Sketchbooks aren't the only places you can sketch. I've sketched on loose leaf paper, church programs, and even paper place mats at restaurants. Sketchbooks, however, provide the handiest places for your ideas, and are less likely to be lost. Here's one of the very few sketches on scrap paper I still have, This one in blue ball point pen ink:
But what goes in a sketchbook? Anything and everything! Mine have a wide range of subjects, methods and reasons-to-be. Here are a few examples:
A flower outside of a Pennsylvania home, and a lamp in a Washington D.C. motel:
A stick and artifacts in a Utah desert:
A landscape near Pittsburgh:
A couple quick plant studies, and the back of a dog I had many years ago, sketched when she didn't know I was looking:
Any object, no matter how simple or mundane, can be put to use in a sketchbook. A kitchen chair in Pennsylvania for example:
Or if that's not challenging enough, how about a wicker chair in Utah?
Many of the sketches in my sketchbooks are simple gestures or line studies, drawn from life:
Here's a couple of quick sketches on a sketchbook page done at different times in the past week:
In part two I'll present other ideas about what sketchbooks can be used for, including a little about developing ideas for finished artwork. As mentioned earlier, these ideas are from my perspective. If you have any ideas you would like to share about sketchbooks you're welcome to put them in "comments."