16 August 2008

Memory and Invention for the Sketchbook


Is there anyone else participating in the Community Sketchbook group who uses their sketchbook as a tool for ideas that will be translated into other media? I don’t mean the almost now standardized “art journal” that everyone is doing with the pointy crowned children, precious “sayings” and saccharine sameness. I’m not interested in having pages that are created to be the end result, rather I need a demonstrable tool to learn with, experiment and collect research in. Working in 2 dimensions is problematic when you're thinking of three dimensional, but some of the planning works because I’m still envisioning it in my head even if it’s flat on the page. Some developments are a natural adjunct as intrinsically, fabric is as paper, until it’s been manipulated. I’ve wondered what sort of pages and subjects a sculptors sketchbook would include!

I've kept sketchbooks for 30 some years now. Most of them are pretty spare with scribbles and really rough sketches in thumbnail form--no one else would "see" what I see in the jots. :} The only time I ever did more work in their pages was while I was in Cap College's Textile Arts program (North Vancouver BC)—-it was a required process in the program, and I loathed "wasting" time on them when i could actually be making the pieces!

I remember having a heated discussion with several readers when I had first started blogging, about the value of a well kept visual journal. My point was that I would never see the import of having a workbook as beautifully crafted as the piece I was planning out; their point was that the sketchbook was an art form unto itself. My sketchbook(s) never will be made just to stand as on its/their own, but I have come around to realizing that it is a valuable tool to develop the ideas. Maybe it's also because I am older now and more sure of what I want to say and have SO many ideas that they HAVE to be kept track of in a more detailed way! (You know I even dream of my art now? In my sleep, ideas foment and bubble, and some mornings I grab that sketchbook and just smoke it with notes and scratchy drawings!)

Most of my work is either from “memory” or something I have “invented.” Though others may interpret more realistically, my sketchbook is becoming a compendium of stitched, collaged, painted, scribbled and notated but now recognizable subjects. They are still how I see/sense/intuit a particular object or subject, but as a tool they are also becoming more documentary for others.

Do you create from “inside” or are you an “en plein air” artist? Do you sketch just to sketch? Do you invent? Are your drawings a vehicle to express other ideas or techniques and mediums? Are they for collaborative purposes? WHY do you keep a sketchbook?


sHandke said...

These are some great thoughts, Arlee! I've oftentimes pondered if the sketchbook is worth my time, and then I realize that it has to be worth my time if I want to make anything with depth. Although I am mostly a 2-D artist, I find that the ideas I sketch in my books are often translated into a bigger picture. Usually, I sketch people, place, and things that impact me visually. Sometimes my sketches come from my memories, and other times, I sketch people and places from real life.

There really is not one valid answer to all of your questions, but I believe that each person's sketchbook helps them to identify who/what they truly are and what they want to create next.

For what it's worth, those are my thoughts.

esta sketch said...

I work mostly in 2D too, and I can spend hours on a page in my sketchbook... for me often the problem lies in transferring that same sketchbook quality to the real work.. it almost never works. It's hard to get the same spontaneity, all the guide lines, erasing and starting over, etc once you've done it once. I guess I should try keeping my sketches incredibly simple and starting on the real work the moment I have the basic idea down... but I just love having a book full of my drawings to flick through privately. And I love the work of other artists who have a really free sketch like quality to their work... lucien freud, david hockney, andrew wyeth, etc and those old books of figure drawing.. I think that can influence one's journal creation too..

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

Very thought provoking Arlee... Why do I keep a sketch book... I just started keeping a sketch book / Journal a little over a year ago... why? Partly because I read Danny Gregory's book 'Creative License' and 'Everyday Matters'... and partly because I have/had kidney cancer and had my kidney removed and still am being checked every 90 days for lung cancer, bone cancer... etc etc... so my days are numbered and I know it. Partly because I live far away from my grand children, they see me Christmas and maybe Thanksgiving... but they really don't know me... someday I hope these journals I keep will give them a tangible record of who I was, and what I did... and maybe they'll pass them on to their children... and with that in mind I try to keep my journals upbeat and fun... and talk about the daily things I do and the people and animals I love... the drawings aren't great some are from memory, some done from photos, some are done on site... some are very badly done, some are pretty good... I hope my grand children enyjoy them... I'm having fun doing them.