I’ve seen some wonderful uses for sketchbooks recently that should motivate anyone to start a new adventure in creative thinking. My friend Roxanne shared a beautiful collection of watercolors that tell the story of the flower garden that she and her husband Ron have been cultivating at their home. As the garden changes through the season she has been documenting various flowers, plants, bushes and arrangements that Ron cuts for her to arrange in vases. Her intention is to fill the sketchbook as a gift to him. (Spoiler alert not necessary, Ron won’t be reading this).
Another artist uses the sketchbook as data collection, kind of how Leonardo da Vinci kept notes and drawings to explore and better understand things. Curiously, he wrote his words in mirror, right to left and put seemingly unrelated things together on one page, but were they really so unrelated? Waves on the ocean and a woman’s portrait with wavy hair makes sense to me, but his laundry list could have been just a convenient page for that day.
I use some sketch books for quick line studies of what I plan to paint. I have one specific for traveling. I know that using a camera is clearly more convenient and certainly more in the real moment, but as Roxanne noted, drawing in the moment is more real too. It allows you to pay attention to details while you are there, not so much of a surprise once you get home to go over the pics you took with your camera.
Sketchbooks are an exercise, clearly requiring some discipline whether there is a focus on a theme or random thoughts and images. Taking a few minutes each day to capture how light hits a corner of a room or a plant in the garden (think Monet’s Haystacks) or a new view from a parked car window, a child sleeping or a meal just before you eat can improve your observation skills, your drawing skills and your ability to live in the moment almost like meditation.
Challenge: Get a small pad that you can carry around. For thirty days, discipline yourself to create sketch time. Pick a theme or a purpose to your sketching, having a mission to gather images creates a discipline. Draw, cut and past, paint, use what ever medium you want. At the end of thirty days, it should become a habit and a quest. Challenge a friend to do the same and compare your results to further inspire your efforts.