Earlier this week I shared my three goals (er, resolutions) for 2016. Today I’m going to talk about Goal #2: Get Messy in my Sketchbook.
As many of you who follow my work know, several years ago, I began keeping sketchbooks for the first time in my life (or my art career). This might sound weird (and I grant you, it is), but I am self taught and never developed the discipline for sketchbooks like many art students do when they are studying drawing in school. To be clear — I sketch all the time, and have been for years — especially for illustration clients; just not in a “book.” And what’s even weirder is that when I did start “sketching” in a book, I felt a great drive to fill the entire spread of the book, as opposed to simply drawing what was in my environment or drawing specific things here or there in the book. So my approach to my sketchbooks has been non-traditional (though I have come to learn other artists approach their sketchbooks this way as well). You can view some of my spreads from the past few years here.
In addition to (for the most part) filling spreads with my doodles, my sketchbook habit has morphed into a lot of line drawing with finer tipped pens (including gel and micron pens), which requires a certain level of precision. Yep, there’s a certain “neatness” that goes into my sketchbook spreads. Perhaps these drawings are an attempt to create some sense of order in the chaos of my life? People often comment when I post the spreads on Instagram: “Your spreads are so neat and perfect looking!” Or “Do you ever mess up?”
I had a conversation last month with my friend, illustrator and comics artist Vera Brogsol about how we both like our sketchbooks to look finished and when we “mess up” we often rip out the pages to start over. We chuckled together over this slightly embarrassing fact, but deep down inside, I also know that I have the urge to get messy in my sketchbooks. I just had to figure out a way to do get messy that felt right for me.
And then a remembered several years ago my friend & fellow artist Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) showed me a technique she’d learned from our friend, the great artist Martha Rich: take an old book (something like an old cookbook or out-of-date encyclopedia) and use it as your sketchbook. The idea here is that there are not blank white pages that you must keep pristine. Every page is different. It’s a perfect place to get messy. So a few days ago I found this old book about Germany (no offense, Germany) that I bought for the beautiful photos inside but have never used or looked it much and decided to make it my new messy sketchbook for 2016.
And then I set to work getting messy on the first spread in the book (the final result, pictured above). And it was more fun than I’ve had in a long time.
So, I’m off to a good start! And I can’t wait to go back for more!
Never fear, however; I am no abandoning my more precise, clean, white sketchbooks entirely. I’ll still be drawing in those regularly too (it’s in my blood).
You can follow along with all of my sketchbook antics over on Instagram.
Have a great Thursday!