Friday, July 15, 2016

FAC and Sketchbooks

It's that time again! Welcome back to the Friday Art Challenge. Last week I challenged you
to paint something with the word summer as your prompt. I went right outside and plopped myself down across from the hollyhocks that have done so well this year. They scream summer to me, as do so many other things. I had a hard time and was distracted by all the subject matter until I realized time was short and I just needed to get something done! I spent a very short time, used only ink (no drawing in pencil first) and stayed loose. I'd even call it sloppy. But it's a happy painting. It's my offering for this week's "summer" prompt.

It's also in my sketchbook. I'd like to bore you a little with some thoughts on sketchbooks. They've become quite the "thing" these days. There is a plethora of books on the subject. There are websites and facebook groups devoted to it. There are classes one can take, which I've even taught. There are groups that meet to sketch new places together. There are even exhibits of sketchbooks that have traveled the country. All things "sketchbook" they have now. 

Back in the day (when the dinosaurs roamed) a sketchbook was a tool, more or less. A lesson in values and drawing and seeing. Not a journal that captured your everyday life, unless that was the assignment, but even then it was a tool. A learning device. For most of my early years I used my sketchpads to work out values and composition. Later I started using them to work out color harmonies with small paintings in watercolor journals. Often I liked these small sketches better than the finished paintings. I know now it's because they are fresh and loose, not fussy and tight and I'm drawn to fresh and loose I guess. That was a revelation from my sketchbooks that helped me understand my style. I found my voice in those watercolor journals. 

Fast forward three years ago when I stepped away from art professionally to care for my dad. It was the right thing to do, but for the first two years I never even touched a brush. My desire to create left entirely and I was left wondering what in the world was next if I wasn't an artist anymore. I had gradually let everything related to art go and had focused solely on my dad and his care. About a year and a half into it I picked up a sketchbook and sketched one of the constants in my life, my dad. One thing led to another and I realized I could still do my art, it would just look different in the same way my life looked different. More private and personal. 

So I dug out those sketchbooks and kept them handy to use when I could. The appeal is size and ease of use. I don't have to drag out a bunch of stuff and set up to work for hours. There are no deadlines and no one see's it if I don't show them. This fits my schedule and time limitations, so I do what I can when I can. In doctors offices (which constitute a lot of time these days) and around the house. Nothing exotic, just the everyday. (And lets face it I have a captive subject!!) As I began to sketch more in my watercolor journals and in regular sketchbooks I realized there was a theme. And to make a long story short (you can also read about it on my other blog I am journalling my dad's stories with sketches as a simple project that honors my dad.

The point of my story is this. Art is personal for me again.  In the same way I used to use my journal as a tool I realized you can get caught up in technique and getting to a place where you feel good about your art instead of using it as a part of your everyday life and for you. Its not as hard as we make it. A simple five minute sketch is just that. But as another artist says, twenty minutes of work a day builds into a rather large body of work in a year. More importantly, there are so many things you learn about yourself as you look back on the sketchbooks filled with your drawings. Your life. I realize now they are so much more important to my art, and yes my life, than I ever imagined.

So thanks for reading my thoughts. I'll share snippets of the dad journal as I get further along. For now I'd like to challenge you to do something a little different. Find some paper and make me six days of five minute sketches. It doesn't have to be any harder than that. I use a Moleskine 3x5 sketchbook (in case you need another reason to shop) or a larger one with several on one page, Pen or pencil, crayons or even paint if you want, but nothing elaborate. It won't be easy for me either, but I know I'll love it after its done!! And that's it! Happy Friday Art Challenge--hang in there!! And don't forget to post either here or on the Friday Art Challenge group page on facebook--have fun!! 

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