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How I use sketchbooks in my textile art making practice

December 13, 2018

I had a request… yes. I take requests. One of you wanted to know how I use sketchbooks in my studio practice. So, yes.
I use sketchbooks in my art making practice, even though I work in textiles. I’m a visual person. I think I started in college… before then I was music, music, all the time. I kept stacks of journals but they didn’t have sketches in them.

I have an entire drawer full of old sketchbooks.

And a shelf full. And they are here and there all over my house too. I have two in my little tiny pocket of a purse right now. If however, you are looking for something pretty or fantastic in those pages, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Back in the day… when I first was learning they were nice and neat. In architecture school we had regular checks so they had to be. Architects are nothing if not orderly. At least in school. You want to know something funny? One of my fellow students once told me I should be an artist instead of an architect (after looking at our “deconstruction” models, not after looking at my sketchbooks.) I was so offended. She was right.I used to love nothing more than sketching buildings. They still give me a thrill but I’ve rarely had time over the years to sit in one place while I’m out traveling and sketch. I hope to get back to that some day.

Then after undergraduate work, when the University across the country where we moved to told me they didn’t accept any of my transfer credits, I chose not to do graduate work. I stayed home and started my family, found quilting, and kept little sketchbooks with photos of the work I did. This is the “Apron Exhibit.” Anyone here remember the QuiltArt mail list from waaaay back when? This exhibit instigated one of the first art pieces I made and I loved learning all about things behind the scenes as I helped to send the exhibit traveling all over the country.

I took pics of everything I made and stuck them in a stack of little sketchbooks. When one was filled up I had such a sense of accomplishment. It made me feel like I had actually accomplished something back in those early baby days when there was nothing else to show for the grueling labor of caring for tiny humans. And yes, I know that is more important than anything else I could do. But it was exhausting and mind numbing and for a while there I completely lost my identity as a human with a mind.

I’ve always taken sketchbooks with me when I traveled although I rarely sat still to sketch or paint. They usually end up as notes and journals with a few sketches from memory thrown in.

I made fancy sketchbook covers.
You can find a tutorial HERE for how to make one yourself. 

I tried doing the pretty “art journal” thing for a year or so. I still love this page, but not one single other one really felt successful. I looooove pretty art journals. Maybe someday I’ll give it another try.

I used sketchbooks as well as the large newsprint pads for a year or two when I was attending a figure study group, trying to learn to draw the amazingly complex human form. That’s another thing high on my list of things I want to do again.

For a number of years now sketchbooks have been visual journals… the messy kind that look like the clutter in my head. This was years ago working on building my business, dreaming. I still love ideas and dreaming and business.

These days I carry little tiny 3.5×4.5 dotted page sketchbooks (Blackwing is my current favorite) in my tiny purse. It barely fits. They have notes, journal stuff, kids draw in them, I work out furniture arrangements in them.

I carry a larger (but still thin) moleskine on flights and play around making celtic knots. They are like sudoku for artists. You can find a tutorial HERE for how to draft your own.

The smaller sketchbooks also actually get used for…. art making. I love making little thumbnails and doodling out a million ideas and possibilities.

It’s interesting how many variations of a circle and a line can capture my curiosity.

But my sketchbooks are still mostly note taking, and doodling, and doing something with  my hands so my brain can sit  still and listen while I’m in meetings.s

So – next request?

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Brenda Cupryna
    December 13, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    thank you so much Lyric- I can see how you use your celtic knots and will view the tutorial on drawing your own. I need to do more journaling.

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