I’ve been filling sketchbooks since I was a little girl. Those old sketchbooks served as my drawing school. I would try different subjects and various materials. I tried pencil, pen and charcoal. I even tried some oil pastels which I used on opposite pages with pencil drawings. I didn’t know about fixative then – what a mess! I only have a few of those old sketchbooks left in a box of mementos in my attic. They are meaningful not only because of the lessons learned, but for the glimpses into my life at the time.
This is a drawing of my backyard. I didn’t date it, but I think I was probably 12 or 13 when I did this. Now I wish I had done more drawings of my home and my family. I had a student in one of my classes who brought in a sketchbook that belonged to her mother nearly 50 years before. The drawings in that sketchbook were cherished because of the memories and personal expression they represented. The mother had done drawings of her children and their friends, vacation spots, even rooms in their house. We never know what our drawings might mean to someone else.
That’s a side benefit, of course. First and foremost we should draw what’s important to us. And not as perfect finished drawings but to try new things. Sketchbooks are a place of learning and experimentation. Doodles even. These days my books are filled with starts, scribbles and notes as well as line drawings, with only a few complete and colored drawings. I consider them all valuable practice, much like a musician practices scales.
Here’s a drawing from a current sketchbook – just a quick view of some trees. Over the years of filling sketchbooks I’ve learned that I like drawing with pens because you can draw on both sides of the page, no mess, no fixative required. I’ve learned that I like small, spiral bound books. I’m still searching for the perfect paper so I continue to try new sketchbooks. I can’t think of anything that holds more promise than an empty sketchbook.