Are you trying to figure out what to do first?
Are you getting frustrated with the white paper of doom?
What even is a sketchbook?
Below I will tell you my story - the ups and downs, my knowledge of sketchbooks (after 15 years teaching art and photography to 11 - 16yr old, adults and little dots) and how I go about starting!
Where I started
Above is a video of one of my first sketchbooks, that I actually did for MYSELF! Prior to this all artwork I did was for the students that I taught - I had creatively neglected myself for 10 years. This sketchbook was a catalyst that started the journey I am on now.
This was actually prompted by a sketchbook circle that I joined. My brain was all over, I was in a bad state mentally and I knew I wanted to just start creating for myself again. I was paired with a partner. I would work on my sketchbook, she would work on hers and then every month we would post our sketchbooks to each other and then work over the top of what the other person had done (if we felt the need). This was so freeing, the work in the sketchbook was brought about from random scenes, items, objects I had seen in everyday life. I couldn't be precious as my partner might draw all over my work and I over theirs. It was liberating. This is where I discovered that I was actually doing artwork for the JOY of creating, not for the OUTCOME or perfection of it. This was not for other people but to fulfil my own creative need.
"It was liberating"
This evoked a need to create and so when my daughter was 6 months old in 2019, I set up all my paints at the end of kitchen worktop and I painted everyday for months in a sketchbook. I then started selling some of them and this would fund the next thing I did ( www.eccarterart.com). I moved to the front bedroom and then, eventually we moved house (mainly so I could have a space to paint haha!).
BUT, by no means do you have to go to this extreme. The first step is just starting.........
What is a sketchbook?
Sketchbooks can be used in many different ways. I have found sketch booking as just a way to release something, be that tension, the need to relax, to stop my head from whirling or for the pure need to just switch off and create!
As you can see above there are many ways in which people use sketchbooks:
You may want a sketchbook in order to express your emotions and feelings, maybe you are going through a time of change and want to express this (top right photo is of Frida Kahlo's sketchbook, expressing her relationship with Diego Riviera)
Like me, it may be that you just have a load of materials and want to whack them all on a page and just see what they do! (top right)
It could be a sketchbook of inspiration. Maybe you're really into landscapes, food packaging, 1960s, chimney pots or something else and you just want to draw them and explore their shapes and colours with different materials. (bottom left)
Or, could it be that you love to write but also want to draw. You may want to do a sketchbook as if it is a diary, expressing your life events. I have a lady in my online sketchbook club on a Tuesday 7pm who loves writing poetry and also working with Mandalas and collage.
Over the years of teaching I have found that many people feel that they have to be perfect or that they need to be producing an outcome for others to analyse. This is not so. Its for you, to have a creative practice, have some fun and just be.
If I can give any words of wisdom, it is to just create for the sake of creating. If you relax and find it a calming, meditative way to express yourself, then surely that's worth it.
Here we are at Hartlepool Art Gallery, the venue for my day class on a Wednesday 10am - 12pm (term time) . I've had many students who have been beginners and have not known where to start. This is TOTALLY FINE and understandable that you feel like this. So, let me help you out:
Step 1: IMAGES Gather some images that spark something in you - this could be magazine cuttings, pictures of doorways, your favourite food, your favourite place to visit. Everyone has an urge to take a photo - there was something in you at that point that made you want to take the photo, so use it.
Step 2: SKETCHBOOK Get yourself a sketchbook - this could be any size (I would recommend at least 160gsm - this is the weight of the paper, as it holds the different medias you will be using). If you can't afford one or want to make your own, you could, for example, use scrap envelopes and just tie them together.
This sketchbook here was created by Cait Sherwood and as you can see she has used loads of scraps of paper to create this.
If this is something you would like to do then I can help you with this just ask!
Step 3: WHITE PAPER OF DOOM Get something, a tea bag out of your brew, splash some coffee, squish a blueberry on the page, grab some paint and splodge it on. This will instantly remove the terror of the white page. You could do this multiple times to create some layers.
Step 4: GO FO IT What is the worst that could happen? That it doesn't look exactly like you wanted it to look - That's exactly the point, it is yours and not for anyone else, it shows your journey. There is only you looking at it! JUST BE!
"Remove the terror of the white page"
" We all start somewhere"