Practice makes perfect, so the saying goes. If the idea of gaining proficiency by applying discipline and persistence sound foreboding, sketchbooks are an easy way to develop artistic skills in an intuitive, easy and enjoyable way. In this journey of improvement, sketchbooks are a vital component, and for many accomplished artists, they are almost indispensable.
“My sketchbook is a witness of what I am experiencing, scribbling things whenever they happen.” – Vincent Van Gogh
For artists, inspiration can strike anywhere and at any moment. Many artists use their sketchbook as a companion, carrying it all the time with them so they can record whatever inspires them. The sketchbook becomes a means of being in dialogue with one’s surroundings. Some artists enjoy the diaristic nature of keeping a sketchbook. They can return to their old sketchbooks to understand the narrative of their creative journey over time or relook at older sketches in context of the period they were made in.
For artists who have studied art formally, sketchbooks are often prescribed as means of recording ideas that will lay the seeds for future artistic projects. Sketchbooks function as a repository of ideas, explorations and observations that will be helpful in creating the final artwork. Many artists use their sketchbooks to play around with ideas they have, developing them and using them as references for their final artwork.
Sketchbooks are safe places for artists. The artistic explorations in a sketchbook are for the artist’s eyes only. Here the artist is free from external pressures and judgements. There are no deadlines and no expectations. Artists can stumble and make mistakes. They can explore different mediums and techniques, store their inspirations or just play around with new ideas.
Coming back to practice, sketchbooks are a secret weapon in the amateur artist’s arsenal. For those who do not practise art as their vocation but rather only as a hobby or a passion, devoting time to art can be challenging with busy schedules. One might not always have several hours to work on finished artwork, but a few minutes everyday to scribble or play around in the sketchbook are possible. Keeping a regular artistic habit keeps the creative tap on and improves skills. Luckily, we live in the age of social media; subscribe to any number of daily prompts or monthly challenges (Inktober for example) to cultivate a regular sketchbook habit.
Art Vancouver’s Lisa Wolfin regularly uses sketchbooks both in her artistic practice as well as in her classes. She loves them as they allow experimentation and freedom. Unlike art done on free paper or canvases, which is often dispersed, all artistic ideas and works can be stored together in a sketchbook. For this reason, she believes they are the ideal gift idea; one that has led to many being inspired to create art!
By: Vikram Naik