Artistic Hoarding: Sketchbooks

by Liz

Art is your child. It’s wonderful when you give birth to the masterpieces, watch them accomplish great things, see how the style and personality grows with time. But like children, art needs to be fed. Everyday. Multiple times a day. And it can get rather annoying and tough to come up with enough daily drawings to keep your art from rolling in the Hobby Lobby aisles, screaming that you never feed it, it wants Pizza Pringles and Conte Crayons now, and it wishes you were dead.

Sketchbooks are the kitchen of the art studio. We simmer ideas in them, experiment in them, boil bad ideas until they’re better, microwave leftover sketches from 10 years ago, and come up with half-baked schemes to keep hungry hungry art from withering away. Unfortunately, sketchbooks are the kitchen of the art studio. This is bad. Why is it bad? Take an artist’s studio:

and add a kitchen:

So clean and pretty, right? Yay!

WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

When is tha tlast time your studio or kitchen looked like that? When you bought the house. Those little pots of perfectly organized paint brushes and  sunny sprigs of thyme rarely last long. Soon your studio floor is caked with gluely bits of splattered oil paint mating with gobs of sticky dripped resin coated in sawdust and something-that-looks-like-you-just-murdered-a-rainbow while all your tubes of paint are curled up like mummified mice:

Oh! Did I say I was describing an artist’s studio? I’m sorry; I meant the kitchen:

Now not everyone out there is so messy or crunchy or disorganized or  gooey, but things never stay neat and tidy for long, especially sketchbooks. Every time I buy a new sketchbook, I think, “Yes! Yes! This is the sketchbook in which all my favorite ideas will go! They will all be brilliant and crisp, like this 60 lb. creamsicle paper and will all be lovely! I will draw in it everyday and each sketch will be more tasty than the last! This time, there will be fresh, thought-out material on every page, blossoming like wild roses in a golden-lit forest of unicorns and aesthetically-pleasing urban decay!” And it is true…..for the first six pages. Then the wild rose becomes a wild mess. Papers stick out of the sides willy-nilly. The cover is curled and covered with doodles of fat-faced stick figures. I wrote a grocery list on the back. Pages are missing from bouts of rage wherein they were wrenched from the malformed spiral binding and tossed vengefully in the dumpster.

By the end of that sketchbook, I have mangled it beyond repair and need a new one. I troop back to Hobby Lobby and the cycle begins again. It’s not all bad, though. Sketchbooking allows for a daily ritual of feedng my art, exploring ideas before I attempt to do them with more expensive materials, or even creating viable works of art that could stand on their own (if I had the money to frame them). Besides, they make for fun explorations five years down the road when you dig your old books out and remember how far your art has come, from scribbly baby drawings of balloon-headed dogs and cornered suns to the angsty fashion sketches made in the middle of math lectures and random stuff you vomited onto the pages five minutes before your college Life Drawing journal was due…

Sketching is important. While they may not make you famous or rich, they keep your game up and your artself full, rounded, and happy!

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