Frustrated January Sketcher And Other Stuff

I apologize for not posting much since Christmas.  I’m full of excuses if that will help.  You see, while most folks get to return to normal after January 1st, my holiday season is in full swing.  My daughter was home for the holidays.  Both Chantal and Jodie have birthdays in the first half of January and we just returned from Ottawa.  Oh…and it’s VERY cold, so for a street sketcher it’s a tough time of year.

I looked at my total sketching experiences from my Ottawa trip and two things happened.  First, I sighed and did a mental ‘woe is me.’  Then it occurred to me that it might be worth mentioning a couple things about the result, so here it is.

2015-11-OttawaClearly this isn’t a post about my great art.  Rather, I want to talk about some philosophical and pragmatic things that these two pages represent.  You see, this is a brand-spanking new Moleskine sketchbook.  Now I’m not a fan of these sketchbooks for ‘real’ drawing but I had the opportunity to get one cheap and so it’s going to serve as my daily ‘quick-sketchbook.’  I carry one of these with me at all times and not stuffed away in my man-bag (which holds my regular art stuff) but rather in my pocket, with some sort of quick-sketching pointy device tucked away with it.  It can be brought out in seconds and is often returned a couple minutes later with a new sketch between its covers.  I started doing this about two years ago when my buddy Yvan Breton convinced me of the power of such an approach.

Two things occurred when I started carrying such a sketchbook.  The first, and most important was that I started doing a LOT more sketching.  In the past couple years I’ve filled about 20 of these little 3×5 or 4×6 sketchbooks in addition to my regular sketchbooks.  Most of the pages are filled with quick sketches, though sometimes I’ll do something more complete.  No matter how you slice it, that means a lot more sketching fun and sketching practice and I can do it when no other kind of sketching is possible.  The other thing that has happened is that my ability to see shapes quickly has improved immensely and it allows me to be more loose with my line work than is my typical style.

The sketch on the right is typical.  I was sitting in a restaurant with my family and we were waiting for our food to arrive.  This woman was standing at a bus stop across the street.  I took out my sketchbook and pen, a Uniball Vision, and quickly sketched her.  I doubt that it took two minutes, which included having to wait for a large truck that blocked my view as it waited for a light.  Then the book went back in my pocket and I was ‘back’ with my family.

The left page is also interesting as it shows my lack of respect for the space so many treat as hallowed ground – the pages of a sketchbook.  When you worry about whether every page is worthy of posting on Facebook, you will lose many opportunities.  My small sketchbook is a place where ‘who cares’ rules.

In this case I’d started a sketch while leaning against the wall of my daughter’s apartment.  I was looking out the back window and had started drawing a nearby building.  I was using a Zebra 301A ballpoint.  It was announced by my boss…err..wife, that it was time to go so the book went into my pocket.  We were headed for Ikea.

We hadn’t been in an Ikea in a decade and acted like farmers in a big city for the first time.  We ate meatballs and wanted to buy everything in sight.  Realizing that we had to write numbers of stuff we might want to buy, I pulled out my Moleskine Sketchbook and started writing.  Would you do that with your sketchbook?  It’s to your advantage to be willing to do so as otherwise you won’t start a lot of sketches because you won’t feel you have time to ‘finish’ or ‘do the sketch justice.’  We did buy that kitchen island, by the way, and hauled it back to Quebec.

Now, do you need a Moleskine sketchbook for this?  Heck no, and in fact I’d advise against it.  The paper is ok for pen or pencil but it stinks for watercolor isn’t necessary for pen, and they’re ridiculously expensive.   Most of my small sketchbooks are 3×5 or 4×6 sketchbooks that I’ve bought at our dollar store, though they typically cost me $2.

 

2 Responses to “Frustrated January Sketcher And Other Stuff”

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  1. Tina says:

    Exactly my attitude about my “catch-all” pocket sketchbook! It’s got everything from phone numbers and titles of books I might want to read to reasonably complete sketches. Now if we could just get a small notebook manufacturer to put some decent paper in there, life would be perfect.

    • Amen to that. I suspect that most of the reason the thin notebook makers don’t use heavier/better paper is that the compromise between a single signature and page count. I’ve made signatures of 100lb paper and about the best I can do is 8-sheets, or 32 page books and then they won’t close completely like, say a FN book will. Unfortunately, I’m afraid our needs are in the minority.

      Cheers — Larry