Sketchbooks

Deconstructing the Sketchbook

Creative people make it a habit to notice things. The best way to process what we notice around us is to write about it, sketch it, doodle it, or make a collage with it. The hope is that by recording the way things are, we might also discover some new connections between things, that is to say…stumble upon a sense of wonder or even a new idea.

Keeping your observations in a sketchbook is different than taking a photograph or a video. The act of sketching or writing slows you down and taps into your intuition; whatever you are drawing enters a mutual relationship with you. While drawing your heartbeat slows down.

Of course the keeping of a sketchbook in and of itself is an enormous and sometimes spiritual undertaking. It requires a suspension of judgment and a confident embrace off the unknown.

I am not so good at this. I have at least 8 sketchbooks going at one time and at the beginning of each, I have vowed to fill it up chronologically, from left to right with careful drawings, notes and an endearing record of my creative contributions. As it turns out, my sketchbooks inevitably end up crumpled and half full, with entries added upside down, out of order, and torn out.

So am I alone? I can draw ok and I have oodles of ideas…….so why can’t I keep a sketchbook like Leonardo did?

Tired of this irksome self-doubt, one day I came to my studio and I decided to disassemble all 8 of my sketchbooks. Paper was flying. Piles were made.  I tore out all the pages with the slightest mark and left only gaunt little black covers full of blank paper.

I felt suddenly free and mildly impressed with the volume of work that appeared once extracted from those bindings.

Here is a sampling of the sketches and collages that I found amongst those books and some of the categories that emerged.

Travel Sketches

Travel Sketches

Concept Sketches

Concept Sketches

People Sketches

People Sketches

Sketches to Communicate

Sketches to Communicate

In addition to sketches and collages, there are pages and pages of writing. I proceeded to organize the work chronologically which was easily accomplished and then by color, and then by mood, and then by levels of usefulness, I could go on forever…my brain and my sketchbooks were organized after all!

What if the linear organization of a traditional bound book simply won’t do for us creatives? From that day on, I periodically take out the work from my sketchbooks and place it into a box with the rest of it. It’s a fluid and easy filing system and it means I don’t have to think any more about the object called a sketchbook when what I want to be thinking about is that next idea.

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-Lara

Note: This posting was encouraged by a little book written by Guy Bommarito, entitled Creative Bones. Check out the book here and be inspired: http://guybom.wix.com/guybommarito#!creative-bones/c10ot