What is an art sketchbook?
“A sketchbook is a way to process raw information.”
Sketchbooks allow you to quickly jot down ideas as you have them. So whether you are in the air, taking a walk in the park or having lunch at a cafe, the sketchbook allows you to record your ideas. After all, inspiration can strike at just about any time.
A sketchbook is a creative document that contains both written and visual material. It may include teacher-guided sketchbook assignments or self-directed investigation. A sketchbook provides a place to think through the making process: researching, brainstorming, experimenting, analyzing and refining compositions. It documents the journey toward a final solution, providing adept and backstory to the accompany work.
Most art universities love to see process, development work in your sketchbook. So it’s very important to
Why are sketchbooks so important in an artist’s journey?
1. They are a chronological record of your progress
If you ever feel unmotivated or need solid proof of your progress, you can look back to your old sketchbooks and see how far you’ve come. You can also study them in order to find patterns in your work, as well as your style evolution throughout the years.
2. They protect your work for you
If you are generally a disorganized person or simply a busy one, it is very easy to lose those sketches you create. Whether you are a professional artist or a hobbyist that finds joy in art, it is important that this work is protected and not lost.
3. They are portable
As artists it is important to have the tools we need handy at all times. Whether it’s a camera to take reference photos, a small notebook to jot ideas down, or an actual sketchbook, we need to be prepared when we are out and about. It’s important to keep in mind that drawing and painting from life is extremely important.
4. They provide us with an informal, no pressure way of exploring
Art, as in most things in life, it’s more about the journey than the destination. As artists we have to fall in love with the process of exploration and keeping a sketchbook is a great way to do that. It is through smaller studies that we discover ourselves as artists, the techniques we love most, what we excel at and what we must work on.
Sometimes a finished sketchbook is even more important than the finalized pieces we produce, as it displays all the work it took you to get to where you are today. Ignoring practice and going straight to the canvas isn’t going to get you anywhere.
5. They remind us to keep going
Sketchbooks remind us of unfinished work and it is waiting to be filled up with more ideas and arts.
What to put in a sketchbook?
- First-hand engagement with the subject matter
You should include evidence of a clear personal connection to the theme/s explored, such as original photographs; observational drawings; documented visits to design sites, historic places or museums; and explanations of the personal context surrounding the work. A project based solely upon secondary sources (such as images from the internet, books or magazines) may lead to a lack of personal engagement, plagiarism issues, and superficial, surface-deep work.
- Exploration of composition, visual elements, and design principles
An important role of the sketchbook is to aid the planning and refining of larger artworks. This might involve: composition studies, thumbnail sketches or layout drawings (exploring format, scale, enlargement, cropping, proportion, viewpoint, perspective, texture, surface, color, line, shape, form, space and so on); design ideas; photographs of conceptual models or mock-ups; storyboards; photographic contact sheets; analysis of accompanying portfolio work; and many other forms of visual thinking.
- Original drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, or designs
Fill the sketchbook with your own visual material – particularly that which is exploratory, incomplete and experimental (as opposed to finished illustrations). Images should support the theme of the project and should not depict a random collection of unrelated subject matter.
- A wide range of mediums and materials
The sketchbook should contain a range of mediums and materials, as appropriate for the project and area of specialty. Photograph three-dimensional exploration for inclusion. A broad list of possibilities appears below (this list is not prescriptive or restrictive):
- Drawing and painting surfaces: colored and textured paper of varying weights, such as tissue paper, watercolor paper, newsprint, and cartridge;
- Drawing and painting mediums: graphite pencil, colored pencil, ballpoint pen, ink pen, calligraphy pen, marker pen, chalk, charcoal, pastel, crayon
- Threads and textiles: natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, silk, flax and raffia; synthetic threads, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester
- Sculptural materials: clay, cane, wire, wood, stone, plaster, plastic, fiberglass, metal,
- Tools and technology: brushes, sponges, paint rollers, palette knives, traditional and digital cameras; video cameras, computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and SketchUp Pro; computer-aided manufacture (CAM), such as 2D and 3D printers, laser cutters / CNC paper cutters.
Overall, sketchbooks are great because you are not confined to just sketching. You can use it as a place to explore different mediums, study different techniques, create colour palettes, and keep a collection of visuals that inspire you.