I used to do some freelance work for a Chicago creative agency, and for Christmas '08 they sent me a sketchbook. It was right after our second child was born, and after over three years of pregnancies, newborns and babies taking over my world, I resolved to get back to my roots -- fine art -- and fill up the sketchbook the following year.
Of course, stuff happened (baby #3, we tried to sell our house, husband got a new job, I got a new licensing deal), and the sketchbook remained 95% empty until recently.
When I got really obsessed with fabric designs, I started finding inspiration for prints all over the place. I needed a place to record them, and found that neglected sketchbook.
Sadly, it's not the only one. I have a big box of half- and quarter-filled sketchbooks, and even a stack of blank ones I bought for (why, again??) some long forgotten reason. Maybe it was before marriage and kids, when I had a regular paycheck and aspirations of wandering all over and recording it all in travel sketchbooks.
Some of my favorites: Canson and Arches make nice wide-format watercolor sketchbooks that are perfect for landscapes. (I have a couple of those... still blank... but I've used their paper in sketchbook form with mixed media (Canson), and for many-layered watercolors (Arches) and have been impressed with the quality.) Moleskine also has a watercolor one that's great for recording a really wide-angle view, since it's a flat bound book, not wire-bound. (I have one -- but it has only three quickie watercolors from 2010 in it.)
The good news is, that sketchbook from '08 is just seven pages from being full. Mostly on both sides of each page, too!
The bad news is, the sketches are really just that: quick, ugly, chicken-scratch-y. Mostly done with a half dried out Pigma Micron pen. A few magazine scraps glued on here and there. Nothing I'll ever win an award for. But all together, I like them. They're full of ideas, but not too precious, and there are a ton of them.
Now I have plans for the rest of those sketchbooks in that box in the basement.
For anyone who loves pen, pencil, watercolor, a spiral bound blank book, and a couple hours of free time, here are a few of my favorite artists and sketchbooks for inspiration.
- Lucia DeLeiris in Antarctica & Tanzania
- Urban Sketchers group
- Although not technically sketchbooks, I've long admired these beautiful drawings by Leslie Hawes, and what a great idea... traveling via Google Images
- Cathy (Kate) Johnson, an incredibly talented artist and wonderful teacher
- Jennifer Lawson, beautiful pen and watercolor work