I don’t always make New Year’s resolutions, but when I do I try to think outside the box and go beyond the common “eat well and exercise” (which really I should be doing anyway). I try to think of something new to add to my life, or a bad habit I want to change. Over my winter vacation, which I spent in Oklahoma visiting my family, I had a sudden surge of inspiration about my resolution. At about 3 o’clock in the morning. I realized that I don’t utilize my sketchbook as much as I probably should, and that working in my sketchbook on a regular basis as part of a resolution might not only improve my art but my mental health as well. I’ve always been a terribly journal keeper, putting off so many entries that it would take a whole day to catch up on what happened. Writing down what I did that day is boring to me, and usually boring to read later, but sometimes it is helpful for me to write down ideas I have so that I can work them out and see the big picture. Of course some days I don’t feel like writing and just want to doodle, sketch, make lists or brainstorm ideas. I’ve kept my sketchbook narrowly focused on perfect pen drawings that are used for later paintings, and haven’t really explored new ideas, mediums, or allowed my sketchbook to get messy. I’m not really even sketching in it.
When I was student teaching in the Woodburn High School the IB students had to keep sketchbooks that related to their artistic theme. They were supposed to use their sketchbooks to work out ideas, do research, paste flyers from art shows, write about their artwork and lives, and draw. The sketchbooks were graded and were actually a huge part of their score in the class. Looking at my timid attempts in my sketchbook now I would probably fail. I’m not pushing myself or my art with my book.
Another inspiration for instituting a new sketchbook practice is Summer Pierre who wrote this interesting piece about her journal practice for the Huffington Post. She pours her life into her sketchbook/journals and creates some amazing artwork in the process. Thinking about sketchbooks I remember how I once checked out a published version of Frida Kahlo’s diary/sketchbook for a project. While I didn’t have much time to go through it all, what struck me was how different her wild sketches were from her careful paintings and how much she wrote in them. I think that reading published sketchbooks from famous artists will help me broaden my sketchbook practice and push myself to try new things.
This last year has been incredibly hard for me, what with my career path taking a sudden and probably permanent detour away from teaching and into the confusing, wonderful, but sometimes overwhelming world of art. Often times I don’t know what to do next, and many days I feel like a failure. It’s hard to wake up each day and get out of bed knowing you aren’t going to make any money today, and probably won’t make any money for a long time, that you might never “make it big”, that many of your friends and family don’t take what you do seriously, and that no one would ever know if you just crawled back into bed. Don’t get me wrong I love what I’m doing, but it’s been a hard transition from the heavily regulated, scheduled, world of teaching to the more flexible and open ended world of art. Many times I can go a whole week without talking to anyone but my husband, and there are only so many times that poor man can hear me complain about how hard my day was after he’s dealt with crazy teenage girls all day. My point is, maybe a journal/sketchbook can help me work through some of my anxiety/confusion/fears without exploding hot-molten-crazy all over people. At this point it’s either journaling or therapy and a sketchbook is cheaper. Already I’ve been bad about finding time to sketch/journal, but I think if I schedule it in like brushing my teeth it will become easier over time. I’ll try to occasionally post pictures from my sketchbook and update on how this experiment is going.
Happy New Year and here’s hoping 2012 is our best year yet! (It better be cause it’s our last year right?
Feel free to leave a comment with your New Year’s Resolution below. I’d love to hear what other people are working on this year.
Peace! Chantel Greene