Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Catching Up with the Catch-All Sketchbook

5/24/13 Sailor pen, 100 lb. watercolor paper
For the better part of a year, I’ve been carrying a self-made Greeting Card Sketchbook in my bag at all times. The purpose of this small, thin, lightweight catch-all sketchbook is to provide something to sketch in at unexpected opportunities when I’m not necessarily carrying my preferred-size sketchbook or when the situation requires something smaller and therefore more discreet. I filled the first Greeting Card Sketchbook in only two months last fall, so it weathered daily wear and tear very well (for something made of nothing more than paper bound into a greeting card).

I replaced it with the next Greeting Card Sketchbook, which took me nearly six months to fill. I don’t think I was sketching any less during that period; maybe I simply had my larger sketchbook with me more often, so I didn’t need it as much. In any case, it didn’t fare as well as the first one. Although the pamphlet-stitched single signature held together fine, its cardstock cover is tattered and so worn at the spine that it is barely attached. I never intended it for long-term use, and it looks like its lifespan is a few months shorter than I used it.
4/26/13 fountain pen, 100 lb. watercolor paper

Before I put it away on a bookshelf where I store all my filled sketchbooks, I scanned all the sketches, most of which I haven’t blogged about because they tend to be storyless floating heads that I capture on short bus rides or while waiting for restaurant food to come. What makes me happy about these tiny sketches are two things: One is that they represent otherwise-idle moments that I instead filled with observations.

The other is that they remind me that for most of my life, I used to see sketches similar to these – nothing more than doodles, perhaps from imagination – in other people’s sketchbooks and marvel at them because I was so certain I could never do sketches like that myself. They seemed impossibly beyond my scope. It turned out they aren’t.
5/9/13 fountain pen, 100 lb. watercolor paper

I’m now working on a more durable catch-all sketchbook solution. (More on that later.)

Edited 10/5/13: See my follow-up, "Rounded Corners," for the solution.

Greeting Card Sketchbooks, in their better days.


  1. I like the idea of a "catch all" sketchbook, small enough to take along anywhere...just in case the inspiration strikes. Nice!!

  2. These faces are very good sketches!

    I like the pocket Moleskine for this use, but it is thicker than what you're carrying.


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