I got a basic coil binder for Xmas intending to get into making my own sketchbooks – the kind that won’t intimidate me with their pristine emptiness – but I never got around to starting.
In January, I set a new year’s resolution to keep a sketchbook and got blocked with it almost immediately because somehow I imagined I was going to have a ‘real’ sketchbook, like the one that belongs to the watercolour artist sketching on the waterfront, that we take a sneaky over-the-shoulder peak at, as we pass by.
But, of course, I’m not a watercolour artist – nor anything like one – so all that was just some kind of Inner Critic fantasy which castrated my creative process and launched me into temporary amnesia about loving my own way of doing things.
When I do keep a sketchbook, it’s in a mixed-media-journal kind of way – and they tend to end up choc-a-block with layers and stuck-in bits and pieces, sometimes so fat that they need a cord to hold them closed. When I can manage to shut up my wily I.C. I really dig this aspect of my personal process.
A few weeks ago, I finally got it together with the coil binder and created an A5 sketchbook of varied paper tones and thicknesses so I can choose whichever takes my fancy on a given day. (This avoids any issues of needing to make that first page great!) I recycled an old notebook for the cover and the coil.
I’m using this immediately-beloved new sketchbook to play with ideas for two new, larger, experimental mixed-media pieces I’m working on. (I’m not sharing the progress of those just yet as I really need not to be influenced by anyone else’s input while they are at such an embryonic stage.)
I found that the act of putting the sketchbook together was a great impetus for getting started on the project. I was literally ‘building a container’ for my new ideas – one that is completely adapted to the needs of my personal process.
How could you build a container for your ideas? What element of your work that you find intimidating could you turn on it’s head to make it empowering instead?
It goes without saying that the art we make reflects who we are. But can we summon a different life through our art?
If we change from making work that is small and dark to large and light, from detailed and complex to open and spacious, will some profound shift also occur in other aspects of our existence?
How much does what we make affect who we are as opposed to the other way round?
There is work that is Yin, inward-looking, exploratory, questioning, reflective, tentative; work that is about wondering and dreaming; work that is ongoing and subject to abrupt changes of direction; work that is difficult to quantify or justify.
There is work that is Yang, definite, direct, resolved; work that is about showing and sharing; work that is complete and ready to hang or ship; tangible work that carries a price tag.
What kind of work are you engaged in right now?