Sunday, 4 April 2010

What's the point of sketch books?

Bust of Eve Fairfax by August Rodin (1902-3) Bronze: at the V&A. Killing time before meeting for a family lunch.

I notice that my last visit to the world of blog was on 4 October last year - that was two whole seasons ago! I won't go on about the weather but I do feel more lively now spring is here and the days are getting longer.

Just yesterday we went on a walk through the fenlands of Essex. For the exercise and for the views. My husband took his fancy camera and his fancy tripod. I took my sketch book and pencils - they didn't see the light of day until we got home and I took them out of my rucksack.

I often do this. Carry my book and pencils with me in the hope that I'll add to its contents and decrease the number of blank pages. I'm currently working my way through a tiny book that I received as a present and I've just noticed that the first date in it is 28 December 2002. It's very nearly too small for me to draw anything in it. Two years ago I took it on holiday with me to Lyon in France and our host's young son thought that looking through it was the highlight of our visit. I was astonished.

Not surprisingly it takes me for ever to fill one whole book. I usually have a few books on the go at once and I recently managed to complete a rather nice square book which took me three patient years from start to finish.

My friend Cathy got me thinking about why I work in sketch books. She asked me if I use my sketches as a basis for something bigger, more permanent. Oh no, I replied. I make them and leave them. Sometimes I'll look back at them, sometimes I don't but I am careful to avoid judging the quality of what I produce. I accept it as it is. It could be scruffy, turned out in a moment or laboured and delicate. It doesn't matter.

But as I've thought about it I realised that I like to sketch stuff as I am on the move because that is how I learn more about where I am and what is around me and that makes my life more interesting. I've included two drawings from the current book for your amusement.Waiting to see the dentist - you could describe this as displacement activity.


Marta Szabo said...

Wonderful. i love the support for the writing (or drawing) of everyday things without pressure to produce...

Marta Szabo said...

I love this powerful piece for its advancement of writing (or drawing) in the most ordinary of contexts without pressure to produce & become famous...

jacqui boyd said...

glad to see the weather has turned in the UK and you are able to get out and about more.

I am an infrequent sketch book user although I always plan to use them. I have amassed a large number over the years. what are the point of sketch books - more to make you observe something more acutely than if you were just shooting away with the camera. I love my camera and often use it to inspire my work but if I do use a sketch book, it because I want to feel the energy and light of what is in front of me. I might not capture much of what is in front of me as sketching is something you have to do on a regular basis to be good at it. However, from my scribbles, when I look back on them, I can remember feelings and the kind of day it was, even if its months ago (not necessarily years ago but sometimes.)

Sketching is much more intimate than drawing or photography, they are private notes to yourself.

Heather said...

Thanks Marta: I do so love the ordinary and Jacqui: I love your comment that 'sketches are private notes to yourself'.