Thank you to SLATE COLLECTION for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.
One of the most important parts of my art practice is my sketchbook. (If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably gotten that impression already.)
My paintings are an aggregate of so many different inspirations; contours of flowers, the colors of leaves on a run, words that stay stuck in my mind, patterns on the water, rhythms in remembered landscapes… all of these factors inform my work, so it is crucial that I have a sketchbook with me literally at all times, to record all of these.
Keeping a sketchbook is a discipline I cling to, rely on and owe much of my current practice to.
Currently I’m using the Mercer Refillable Sketchbook by SLATE COLLECTION and I’m in love with it. The cover is soft and supple (and in the case of my book, my favorite color; INDIGO!) and yet incredibly sturdy. I put my supplies through a lot, and it has held up beautifully.
How I use my sketchbook;
I get a fair amount of questions about my process when it comes to keeping a sketchbook, so I thought I might break down a typical day in regards to my sketching habits. I’d love to hear about your sketching routine too, make sure to leave a comment so I can learn about your practice!
7 am; Wake up (slowly, I’m awful at shaking sleep!) and quickly record thoughts from dreams, or colors that creep into my pre-dawn thoughts.
These are small notes generally, unless I’ve had an amazing dream, or spent the morning lying in bed visualizing a new series. It’s important for me to have a sturdy sketchbook, as I don’t sleep with it, but if I’m scribbling notes during the night, it can get caught in between the bed and the frame pretty regularly. The Mercer is both thick and rigid enough that this isn’t a problem.
9 am: Back from my run, I’ll write down thoughts that I’ve mediated on, colors from our local landscape, lyrics or moments from the music that empowers my run, and I’ll start to make plans and notes for the day ahead.
(This particular morning was spent watching a few busy squirrels outside my studio window. I put the pencil on the page and dragged it around according to the squirrels movements. Like a little treasure map to their buried nuts.)
11-1 pm: Errands and meetings! I make notes in my sketchbook of orders that need to go out that day and any supplies that I’m low on. Since I’m already out and about, I try to schedule meetings and meet-ups around the same time (and, Ann Arbor has such great food that lunch meetings are automatically THE BEST). My sketchbook is in tow for all of this, acting as a list for supplies, and as a mini portfolio if I’m meeting with a client or gallery space.
2-3 pm: My favorite part. Unless I’m knee-deep in other paintings, this is my project time; when ideas take form and the next paintings in a series starts here. Here is where I distill morning sketches, break apart words that have been stuck in my head, examine memory, color, and make thumbnails.
These can be super clean, super messy, made with lots of types of paint, or just pencil - so it’s important to me to use a sketchbook that is multi-purpose. Paper that is too thin will tear with water, paper that is too thick feels too final and I’m less likely to get deep into the experiment phase. I’m looking for a quality paper that can take a few layers of exploration, and the pages of this sketchbook (Mercer Refillable from SLATE COLLECTION) are perfect for that.
Once I’m confident in the idea, the movement and color scheme of the piece transfers from my sketches to canvas as I begin to create the painting. If I’m not totally feeling the pre-painting sketches, I’ll just keep exploring the composition and colors in thumbnails until I feel like I’ve got a better handle on the message I’m trying to convey. Or, the idea gets scrapped / shelved for tomorrow and I’ll come back with fresh eyes.
10 -11 pm: A slow unwind. At the end of the day, orders shipped, progress made on paintings, space (relatively) clean, I like to take stock of the last 16 hours and make sure if any thought is still rattling around upstairs - that it is written and/or sketched out for tomorrow. I’ll use this time to journal in my sketchbook a bit, reflect on things from the day or the days to come.
Keeping a sketchbook and being disciplined about the process is a huge part of my practice, and using the Mercer Refillable from SLATE COLLECTION has been the perfect book to use for this. If you’re an artist looking for a new sketchbook (refillable too!) check out their books. And if you know an artist, none of us is ever upset at a new sketchbook for the holidays!
What sort of sketching schedule do you keep? Is it a daily activity or more of when the mood strikes? I love looking at other artist’s sketchbooks and hearing about their process - feel free to share your habits below!
Happy sketching friends!