Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Sketchbook Project

9/12/12 Kuretake Brush Writer
When I first learned of The Sketchbook Project years ago, I longed to participate. It seemed like such an interesting concept to put sketchbooks – traditionally a private medium – on exhibit. But then I tried imagining what that would be like – having to commit to sending drawings in a book for the public to view. What if my drawings turned out bad? What if one drawing ruined the whole book? It couldn’t be torn out – what would I do? Submit it anyway? The very thought made my hair stand on end. So it was just as well that I “knew” I couldn’t draw and therefore disqualified myself from being eligible.

A few years ago the Art House Coop initiated A Million Little Pictures Project in the same spirit, so I thought that at last there was a medium even I could use. Participants were sent an old-fashioned disposable film camera. When all frames were exposed, we were to send in the photos that became part of the project.
I can’t even remember what theme I chose, and it obviously wasn’t inspiring, because I hardly remember what I photographed. It was a less than satisfying project for me, and I decided the whole concept really wasn’t for me.
Until now. This year I’m participating in the classic Sketchbook Project with a classic sketchbook – a little booklet of paper that I sketch on and send in when full. I chose the theme “Strangers,” since most of my cold-weather sketchbooks are filled with sketches of strangers in coffee shops, and the long fall and winter months are about to begin.
I actually registered and received my project sketchbook a couple of months ago, but I didn’t want to waste any summer sketching weather inside coffee shops, so today was the first time I made a sketch in it. (Ironically, I sat on Starbucks’ rooftop patio to make these sketches, since the summer has leisurely stretched out into September this year.)
9/12/12 Kuretake Brush Writer
As fearful as I was about participating several years ago, I’m equally fearless now. I simply carried my iced coffee up to the patio, opened the sketchbook up to the first page, and sketched the guy wearing headphones. Done. Turned the page, and did the second one.
Life is easier without fear, especially of something as harmless (and joyful) as drawing.
(On a technical note, I can see that I'm going to have to use dry media on this thin paper that can't take a wash. It wrinkled like a used Kleenex.)

Edited 12/19/12: I finished the sketchbook on Dec. 19, 2012. See all 17 page spreads in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook in a Flickr slideshow, or view the images one at a time in my Flickr photostream.


  1. I was away for a few days and am just catching up on what I missed. I'm so glad you are doing a book for the Sketchbook Project this year. I once again taped wc paper over the pages in my book. It is too frustrating for me to even think about using the paper they provide. I love your sketches of the people. You do them really well...and the animals are great too! Really nice perspective in that sketch of the library.

  2. Thank you, Joan! I may end up putting some other kind of paper in there, too... or maybe it will be an opportunity to use only dry media, which I don't do often, so it would be a good challenge.


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