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For Your Eyes Only – Embracing Imperfection In Your Working Sketchbook

June 21, 2011

Patty Toombs has a few art materials gathered around her as she works in her sketchbook. The white paper under her working area enables her to see color more clearly, and can help minimize distraction by focusing the work area.

Students tell me that when they begin placing items in a sketchbook, they somehow feel compelled to finish it to the last page. That is not really necessary. It may feel better to work in a leisurely way in this pursuit. Using a sketchbook to practice playing rather than for creating picture-perfect images can generate a more exciting sketchbook.  Being brave, not worrying about what anybody else but yourself thinks about what is happening on the pages helps to loosen the play.

Students in the class at the studio this week tried out new media and unique ways to design with simple ideas. Working with a few guidelines, and a lot of carefree play, interesting and emotive pages began to emerge.

These three studies are all playful extensions of photographs provided for inspiration. Top, JoAnne Rieger; Center, Sara Judith; Bottom, Mical Middaugh. A working sketchbook can sometimes become a journal of sorts, as you document thoughts about what is happening as you work.

Students have shared with me that when they are at home, they feel like they have to justify spending time working in a sketchbook.  However, it is surprising how much can be accomplished in the 10 or 15 minutes you might have between activities in a day.

A working sketchbook is one in which you can place ideas, colored sets of ideas, suggestions of line and value, and free thoughts. One need not approach any or all pages with an eye toward composition. Sketchbooks are a place where you can exercise as little or as much organization as you wish.

An inherent part of the beauty of a sketchbook is its imperfection. There is value in having blank pages within it – It provides a place which is full of possibility for you to play and for your mind to consider.

These collages were created with an eye to capturing the essence of sunrises and sunsets. At left, Tia Peycheff; at right, Christina Erickson.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lexa permalink
    June 22, 2011 3:19 am

    So true Gail. It is hard to thinkof how to organize the sketchbook until you just keep putting things in. I find I can get so wrapped up in the organizing I don’t get to the doing. Thanks for another reminder. Just do it….

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