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  • Writer's picturePlaying House

Sketchbook - a home away from home

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

An array of sketchbooks with recent re-arting (yes, its a word) of removed drawings. Pictured in the front is a sleeping self portrait, my crush Mathieu and a sketch of my host's brother John

Whether you're an aspiring artist, a student, an art teacher, a traveller or just a human who wants to get some crap off your chest; keeping a sketchbook/journal is essential. I started learning the importance of this in my junior year of undergrad in G.E. Colpitts figure drawing class where we actually had to learn all the names and muscles of the human body like med students; and nailed in through her pre-masters class Critiques and Methods. #judsonuniversityforever

Sometimes this little book can become your best friend - well at least until you fill it up and get another friend and abuse the next with all your thoughts and findings. This non judgmental, mostly recycled buddy can help you organize your thoughts and make you an expert draftsman. No one else has to know what experimenting the both of you did in college on a lonely Saturday night.

I have little time for extra "friends" in these days of adulting, but lately I've been revisiting the forgotten old ones. The pages are filled with people I cherished at the moment but will probably never see again, postcards and magazine clippings from faraway places, and writings of thoughts that seem frustratingly adolescent but currently relatable in the same breadth.

Some of these drawings seemed too cooped up to be pressed between layers of a book so I did the unthinkable. I performed a highly controversial surgery to remove some images and give them their own platform. As seen in the first photo of the post, I took some tiles and wood blocks that I found and gave the drawings new life. This is not a recommended procedure but it was fun for me.

Much of my sketch booking was while I was traveling because its artwork that I could fit in a backpack. I love looking back at the sliver I took from those places. My daily life from those days seep through and its lovely. For some reason I thought it fitting to paste a note from the pastor of the woman I was staying with, next to a nude sketch I did during an open drawing class. The woman happens to be the sister of my payson crush Mathieu. (pictured at the top in the drawing on tile: profile view of handsome fellow with spectacles)

I also relearn art history and ideas that brought me to where I am, and reminding me of where I want to be. Although, drawing in your sketchbook doesn't have to be about something scholarly, exotic or far reaching. Sometimes I was happy drawing a cat or my foot. To some on the other side of the world, these things are exotic and one should never take that for granted.

My current cat named Bunny is only a backdrop for some random cat I drew, I don't know, 15 years ago?? Funny how they resemble each other.

Call me sacrilegious but I used to draw like a fiend in church. In Savannah, Georgia my Sunday go-to was First African Baptist Church, the oldest black church in North America where they didn't judge the weird white girl for concentrating on her sketchbook. So many large hats and fancy dresses and old men in crisp suits closing their eyes in concentration while shouting "Amen!", I couldn't resist capturing it with graphite and charcoal. Believe me, when the FABulous men's choir came swaying down the isles singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" I put down my pencil and stood up and clapped with everyone else, mmmhmm.

Other places to get out your sketchbook!:

  • the doctor's office waiting room

  • on a train, plane or public transit (unless you get motion sick)

  • at a party - if you're bored its perfect and its a conversation starter, may even be a commission starter.

  • at a public park especially if there is an event going on. I've gotten a lot of drawing done laying in the grass waiting for 4th of July fireworks to begin.

Things to look for when picking out your paper friend and its proper entourage:

  1. Best size is 11" x 14" but no smaller than 8"x 10"

  2. Should be hard cover

  3. I prefer a tinted tone to the paper so that I can add dark graphite and white pencil or charcoal, either grey or kraft.

  4. Should be at least 70 lb. quality paper so that it can hold up to gluing and multi-media.

  5. Have a small pencil case with 2b to 6b graphite, a few other colors of pencils, maybe a black ink pen, glue stick, and small scissors (if you're going on a plane, keep scissors at home or security will confiscate)

  6. Perhaps look for one with a built in elastic strap to wrap around the book when your not using. Why? You'll look really cool and mysterious when someone comes around to ask what you're drawing and then you slyly close the sketchbook and snap the elastic around like its an important dossier that no one is allowed to see. Lay it down on your lap with a smirk and say, "oh, just something I've been working on, nothing really"


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