Apologies for the dramatic title but I give much weight I to this post. So, what is it then? What’s my big share? What helps me EVERYDAY in my work, whether I’m on the go or in my studio?
It’s keeping a sketchbook. Woah, don’t go anywhere… don’t switch off, because I’m going to spill why it works.
It’s all about Gathering things.
I hardly ever sketch in my sketchbooks and the term journaling seems a bit heavy for me. I don’t often write in my books either, well - that’s not strictly true, they are full of scribbles. Each time a sketchbook comes to the end of it’s being, I find I can hardly close it. It’s knackered - and fat. Full of stuff that when I need to, I can reach for.
A sketchbook for me is an ideas book. I have many, many of them now and perhaps when I’m older I’ll get them all out and have a great big bonfire and toast marshmallows on it - who knows, the thing is that I know they are there if I should feel like digging them out.
What goes in my books?
I happily tape anything into my books. Pages ripped out of magazines, an article I find interesting, a notecard from a show I’ve been to, ANYTHING I find that sticks out for me.
It’s amazing how much good stuff I have to return to. Personal only to me, they are my mates lined up on a shelf gathering dust until I choose to dig one out.
I’m not an avid, meticulous sketchbooker, more of a slap-it-in-and-tape-it-down until I find the next thing of interest.
The magic is that In time you’ll get to see in your collection of stuff - what you like!
This sounds too simple, but it’s true. Your collection of stuff will tell you what you are leaning towards. It could be the Baroque, surface pattern design, illustrative drawing, architectural watercolour paintings - whatever it is, it will come as you view your sketchbooks back over time. Is there a particular style you seem to have collected? Are names of other artists coming up regularly? Let them tell you the story.
My ask is that you find yourself a book if you don’t already have one? If funds dictate, find yourself a sizeable book in your local charity shop and stick things over the pages until it won’t close - anything goes.
I’ve found what works for me. I use an A6 Moleskin yearly day diary with an empty page opposite. I can organise my life and collect as I use it every day. Admittedly, come November/December it’s so stuffed that I can hardly fit it into my mothership of a bag, still it works for me and I take it everywhere.
I’d love to know what works for you - do you have one on the go?
Sam Barnes has been a practising artist for 25 years. Throughout her career she has had her own gallery, worked with hundreds of artists in making and marketing their own works and exhibited her own extensively. Her work has been successfully published & licensed many times. Sam is passionate about artists, makers and creatives earning a decent living from what they do. Our world needs new and beautiful things and artists deserve liveable incomes. Those two things are possible. Sam writes from her first hand experience and occasionally works 1:1 with others.
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