Monday, July 14, 2014

Finding the Sketchbook for Me, Finding Myself

Writing down my thoughts has come naturally to me all of my life.  I have been keeping a written diary/journal pretty much continuously since I was a girl, since I started my very first diary in 1975.  I still have that diary from 1975, by the way.  I have all of my diaries and journals though the years, because keeping a diary or journal has always been precious to me.  I learn about myself when I write out my thoughts and feelings, I work to solve my problems and issues, I take notes about what is happening in my life that I can refer to later if I forget.

Drawing and illustrating, on the other hand, is something I recently developed a habit of and I still feel like I am still in training for.  If you've been following me in this blog, you've seen me try my first sketchbook, and several thereafter, of all different types, makes, and models.  It taking me awhile to learn about this new part of myself and what works for me.  It feels like I've tried them all.

But I may have settled on a system that leaves me feeling content, a system that is working for me now.
You see, I've have recently learned about myself that I cannot keep an illustrated journal without wanting to write a lot of stuff right beside it.  I just can't let go of my love of writing.  I tried to not write so much, especially in sketchbooks that contained expensive paper meant for watercolor painting.  I tried keeping separate books, one I would sketch and paint in and one I would write in, but I didn't really like working in separate books, either.  It got too confusing having to decide what to put where, or where I put what.

I found that when I put pretty fabric over the cover of the Canson Universal Sketch book (my only real gripe about this particular sketchbook), I have found the perfect place for me to feel free to write AND sketch AND paint to journal my life.  The books are so cheap (less than $4 at Dick Blick for 100 sheets per 5.5x8.5" book) that I feel like I can put anything in them without "wasting" paper.  The paper is smooth with just a hint of tooth, and surprisingly strong for 65 lb paper.  When I draw or write in ink, it doesn't bleed or even show through to the other side.  And to my delight, it takes a layer or two of watercolor paints with only the slightest puckering!  When I paint on it, it's almost like painting on hot press paper, which I am really growing fond of.  I kind of like the splotchy effect I get with it!

The paper does get weakened if I work it too much with the brush though!  But this is a small drawback, especially since I have actual watercolor paper I can use whenever I want to make a "real" watercolor sketch or painting (which is something I do also pretty much every day).

I love that I can feel free to use it for a quick ink-only cactus and rock study outside, or to draw some thumbnail drawings to see if they could work design-wise in a future painting.  It's a place I can explore things on a whim, and write about the experience of doing it.

And it's a place where if I want to study value and not necessarily color, I can do that too!

What do I call this wonderful book where I feel free to put anything?  There are so many names people use for it:  sketchbook, artist's journal, illustrated journal, junk journal, or just--journal.

Whatever you want to call it, I am feeling happy right now that I have found a kind of book that I can feel free to do most anything in, and treasure later, in spite of the book itself being cheap, or maybe because of it...


kate powell said...

I like writing and drawing too, and like to do it wet. I like the 9x9-inch Bee Paper (Aquabee) at 93 lbs -- the books are not bad at Blick's, I can do both sides if I like, and I put a bit of glue around the edges to make them lay flat when I am wanting to work wet with them.

Sharyn Sowell said...

I'm a total fan of the Bee Paper Professional sketchbooks as well. They don't pucker or bleed and the paper is heavier than the others. It's maybe just a tiny bit more but in my opinion worth it. As long as we find something just right for us we're golden! Happy sketching! Loved your post. I found you on the FB sketching page.

Stacy said...

Thank you for your comments Kate and Sharyn! Yes, the Aquabee sketchbooks are great for this purpose, just a little bit heavier paper but that makes them better for wetter washes. Happy sketching to both of you!

Johanne said...

I've found you through FB too.

What drew me to click was that you mix writing and sketching. I really enjoyed reading your post on finding the Sketchbook for me and then kept on reading. Your posts are very interesting.

I love that you describe your thought process, I got an "inside" view of how and why you take decisions to arrive to your sketching results.

Your sketches are lovely.

Stacy said...

Thank you Johanne for dropping by! I really appreciate your lovely feedback.