Sunday, April 22, 2012

the [sketchbook] experiment

i am not a great sketcher, i fall more into the "doodle" category, but i wanted to improve.  i remember the words of one of my professor who told us to "sketch, something, everyday."  taking his advice,  i started a new sketchbook two years ago.  i've had several others in the past but was discouraged with horrible sketching.  i felt every blank page had to be turned into a work of art with perfect sketches, which basically defeats the whole reason for having a sketchbook.  this one would be different.  i decided early on i would not be afraid of anything i put in the book, it would be an experiment, an experiment to see if i improved.

i kept it open at my desk and started filling the pages with anything and everything.  sometimes it was used as a day planner, other times a memo pad, but mostly just scratch paper. i'd sketch architectural details, take notes on projects, or make reminders for myself.  sometimes i'd fill two pages in a day, other times i'd go weeks without making a mark.  slowly, i worked my way through the book.  when i found myself in a block, i'd clip out pictures of buildings from magazines and paste them on the page.  eventually, any photo i found inspiring was clipped out.  soon, song titles, lyrics, thoughts, and quotes started appearing.  anything that might spur a sketch became a contributor to the book.  then a funny thing happened, the pages started to became less about work.  project notes and details were replaced with sketches and drawings more personal.  the book that was suppose to help me stay more organized at work, started to become a way to escape the job for a few minutes.  a short little vacation on a beach of white paper and an ocean of blue ink.

the transition was unintentional, but a pleasant surprise.  i found myself wanting to sketch, looking forward to the occasional five minute break.  in a way, it became a stress reliever.  as i started nearing the end of the book, i found myself filling every square inch i could, not wanting to end this two year journey.  a few days ago, however, i filled the last bit of white space and the experiment was done.

it was interesting to go back and visualize how the book had evolved and changed over the course of a couple years.  is my sketching better? not really, but looking back over the pages, i feel the larger benefit of this experiment is the fact i enjoy the process of sketching much more than i did, and just maybe, that's more important than a pretty sketch.


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