|Recent pages from my sketchbook|
So, here are my "Rules"*:
1. * There are no rules. It’s your book. Make it work for you. It’s OK to include writing. It’s OK to cut and paste things into it. In fact a lot of what I do is collage rather than straight drawing or sketching.
2. Don’t buy a fancy book you’re afraid to make a mark in. Choose one whose size and proportions and overall look you like. If you think you’ll use paint in it, choose one with heavier paper. It’s OK for it to be messy.
3. Remember, it’s a work book, a way for you to think out loud and try things out, not a Deathless Work of Art. It’s For Your Eyes Only. It’s a means to an end, not an end in itself. Don’t judge it.
4. You can use your visual journal to work out your ideas as much as possible before you start using art materials. Saves on materials! Believe me, I've learned this one the hard way. . .
5. If you draw or sketch, use something bold like ink or thick drawing pencils and just keep drawing, even if you make “mistakes” or don’t like what you see. Just keep going—don’t get bogged down erasing. Silence that inner critic! Try oil pastels, crayons, watercolors . . . .
6. Get a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards and try some of the exercises in there, especially contour drawing and blind contour drawing.
7. If drawing terrifies you, try “drawing with scissors.” Cut (or tear) shapes out of colored paper freehand—without drawing them first—and collage them to make designs. Then cut a viewfinder (a rectangular window) in a piece of paper and use it to isolate sections that might work well as a composition in themselves.
8. If a blank white page is intimidating, start by coating the page with a light wash of watercolor, or paste in a piece of patterned paper as a background, or lightly stamp or scribble all over the page . . .anything to break up the white expanse. You might even try a sketchbook with black paper.
9. Take a small sketchbook with you on trips, along with some colored pencils or a small watercolor kit. New surroundings often produce new perceptions. Taking photos is fine too, but you only really know something once you try to draw it. On vacation you can usually find time to sketch.
10. The more you draw, the better you get at it.
That said, I find that lately I do a lot more collage in my sketchbook than drawing. Or a mix of the two. Whatever works. Recently I had the unusual experience of seeing a sketch translate almost unchanged into an actual piece. That hardly ever happens!
Do you keep a sketchbook? How do you use it?