One of the goals Jason and I share for our Aesthetics and Idea’s class is to help our students understand and embrace some sort of regular sketchbook or journaling practice.  I was 23 years old and half way through art school before I figured out how to use a sketchbook.  Most students, high school students anyway, view a sketchbook as THE place to make and create all their “greatest works”.  They’re so excited when the get a new sketch book, they spend days, even weeks just thumbing through the blank pages, anticipating all the wondrous and fabulous art works they’re going to fill it with.  Eventually, the day arrives and they’re ready for the first mark on the first page. There it is.  Some careful little scribble of an eye, or a flower or if they’re brave a hand because they’ve heard hands are the hardest thing one can ever hope to draw. Maybe two or three more pages will be filled with similar little smudgy pencil drawings either in the middle of the page or tucked into the upper corner.  Then the next 17 pages will be missing.  Violently torn out, crumpled up and thrown away because they weren’t “good enough”. Often that’s where it ends and the sketchbook is relegated to under the bed or into a drawer or tucked away into a book case. So. HOW DO YOU USE A SKETCHBOOK? There are many right answers to this question but generally speaking a sketch book is the place to capture and collect idea’s to work through a problem to figure out your intentions, thoughts and curiosities.  It’s not the sole place to collect your masterpieces. The only way I could think to convince students, to give them the confidence to put anything and everything into their books was to share my own sketchbook practice with them, but even that wasn’t enough.  A year ago I decided to put out an all points call to friends and alumni, asking them if they’d be willing to share an image or two from their sketchbooks and write a little blurb explaining their ideas about maintaining a sketchbook practice.  The outpouring was fantastic.  Beyond my expectations.  Every person who responded shared slightly different but related and honest ideas.  It has proven to be so helpful in the studio with my students.  I thought I’d share it with you here.

sketchbook practice



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