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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Got style?

Click on the image to view it in a larger format

When I started blogging here, back in February of 2006, I was really focused on making interesting sketchbooks. I don't know that I had a handle on what that would mean. At the time, I wanted to draw better, which meant improving the elegance of what went in through my eyes and out through my pen. I believe now that I dreamed of being one of those people who could sit for 10 or 15 minutes and produce a sketch worthy of publication in a magazine.

Yeah, well ... that ain't happening. Ha.

But though I couldn't have articulated it, I also wanted to capture moments and places that were important to me, and, above all, to build books that were fun to look at later. This latter idea means, I think, that every page had a little surprise on it -- a different technique, something suggesting a variety of ways of looking at the world.

Of course, because I am in many ways a slow learner, it took a while to understand what I was after, because every time I saw someone else's work, I would think, "Yeah, cool! That's the way I should work!"

Take for instance my friend Karen, whose blog you can see here. Karen documents a lot of things, but particularly her family life and her kids, through journal entries with elegant, tightly rendered drawings on sketchbook pages that are notable for their thoughtful layout.
Much later, I would stumble upon Mattias and his fanciful sketchbooks, filled with stunningly imagined creatures and cityscapes. And I would think, "Yeah, I wanna do THAT! I want to make up delightful images from my imagination!"

I also loved the idea of being one of those people who ALWAYS has her sketchbook out, grabbing quick drawings of whatever lies in front of me, then writing profound things in the margins. I know lots of people now, in art school, who are sketchbook-obsessed, and have pages of drawings from something like an endless stream.

But I don't really work in any of those ways. Or maybe I've borrowed bits and pieces from all of those, because in the end I refuse to commit.

What has emerged out of this are books that largely demonstrate an interest in The Page, and whose content reflects something that is visually or emotionally significant to me. The written word is usually part of this. And though these books don't really make for a reliable diary -- private, highly emotional information is rarely on view -- there is a sense of I-was-here-ness on the page.

Well, so, yesterday, I was "here." Here being at Fisher's Tavern, a favorite old haunt. Because it was still too chilly for outdoor drawing, and because I was wedging this page into a lot of other tasks I had going, I took reference photos, then created the page at home. I started drawing it with a pencil (shame!) to get everything in place, but I soon abandoned that for a brush pen. Brush pens force looseness, which is a fine reason to have one in your kit. Once I did that, I started having a lot more fun.

By the time all the ink was down, I was thinking about color, and about how much I have come to enjoy sneaking bits of collage into my work. So I tore through a catalogue to find the clipping that you see at the bottom of the page -- this side of the tavern's "driveway," if you will. Oh, and I needed a random bird on the page, so I drew that quick robin. He didn't originally have a worm in his mouth, but I was thinking about how, on Friday, I had to (gulp) cut up nightcrawlers for a robin at the raptor center.

What we have here, then, is a spread that reflects something real, something interesting in my life (the restaurant), but also takes a ton of creative license. It's not great art. But I like to think that if you were thumbing through my sketchbooks in person, you would come to this page and feel a frisson of delight. Short of that, I'd like to think that I would. :D


Don said...

A dandy sketch of a personal place and you did a fine job of explaining the kinds of thoughts that go into this thing we call "keeping a sketchbook". People are so tied to living a "pop" life. I don't think they understand why we sketch stuff lol! And sometimes we don't even know ourselves :-)

Sandy said...

Only have a minute (leaving soon)but had to say I love your banner. I'll have to come back and see more. I've had you bookmarked for quite a while but need to get back. Love your art.

Marcie said...

Love how you've discovered yourself and what works for you thru your sketchbooking. Wonderful..colorful scene and sketch.

Lynn said...

Great post, Karen. I keep coming back to your blog for the very reasons you wrote about, because you document the things that happen that resonate with you, the things that make you who you are. That's the best part about keeping a sketchbook.