Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In recent days I have been visiting the blogs of other artists, and my efforts have been rewarded with the delightful images from a variety of sketch books. It is always inspiring to see the infinite number of ways each of us views our world, and rewarding when these experiences are so aptly documented.

So, today's post will be about the artist’s sketch book. My transition from medicine to art began in the mid 70’s with a small sketch book I carried with me to a medical conference in Boston, years before I was aware that such a transition was in my future. Walking out of the conference after the first hour, I spent the next 3 days walking the streets of boston and Cambridge, filling me books with drawings of the city streets. This was to be a practice I would continue for many years, and it was to become my lifeline to the world during some rather dark times. Those familiar with my blog will have seen the many drawings and notes I have selected to share.

The sketch books, later just “the books”, were with me almost 24-7. It was my way of training my eyes to see, to learn the craft of drawing. I imposed one rule on myself, I was not allowed to use any instrument other than an ink pen (my faithful Parker 45, alas, no longer available.) or a fine point black marker. I did not want to be tempted to use and eraser: with the pen I was forced to commit myself. I can honestly report that I rarely broke that rule, and when I did it was usually with colored markers. Eventually my books became as much of a journal as a sketchbook.

Years later, as my artistic interests evolved, I became strictly a studio artist, and the books were replaced by larger books in which I recorded small exploratory thumb nail sketches for future paintings. Pencils were now allowed!

I would enjoy hearing from others about their own experiences with the sketch book; do you have “rules” for yourself, do you draw or write every day, what size books do you use,?

1 comment:

Ester said...

that's a really interesting way to start out with drawing. Rules are so great, because they are like boundaries set up in a place of uncertainty. I love sketchbooks, and looking through other people's books is an all time favorite. I think when I first started making the "books", I was in college and was told a few instructions from teachers who wanted to push particular drawing skills further. Drawing people was something I was challenged to get better at, and ever since I have been loving doing figure studies, even past that instruction. Another teacher once told me that I had to fill a book up of daily creative thought, at least one page a day dedicated to creative thinking. Of course I had to include some drawing in there or else it would be too boring, so that's when I started combining word thoughts with images and that's kind of where it is for me now. But the minute I start putting too many rules on my work is when I feel the spontaneity gets lost a little. I love to use all kinds of tools, whatever makes a mark really. Adding color is great, and mixing it all up with inks, paints and gooey messes is a lot of fun. I love to have all the tools readily available so when I glance around, whatever catches my eye is what I'll use next.

Your mix of two ways to work in the world is really interesting, I feel like I can relate to the "shut down" mode, and then the openness that is required when being honest with art making. I think that combination in one person makes for a really interesting and unique perspective.