Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Sketchbook as Third Place

3/10/15 Various inks, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

You’ve probably heard of the concept of “the third place.” In many cultures, it’s the place that is neither home nor work but something like a pub or café where people gather informally. It’s the place where people can make a transition – leaving behind the formal structures of work before going home to a different role.

When I worked full-time, I used my bus commute home as my personal “third place.” Although commuting didn’t have the social aspect of a true third place, I used that bus riding time to read, usually fiction, and the book would transport me away from the stresses of work so that I could enjoy a relaxed evening at home.

Now that I work part-time and only for myself, I don’t have nearly the same levels of stress or responsibility that I used to have, so I don’t have the same need for a personal third place. Every now and then, though, I might leave a client meeting feeling tense from an unresolved issue or a discussion that left a bad taste in my mouth.

That’s when I find it especially helpful to stop on my way home for a sketch. Like a good book that transports me to a different place, my sketchbook immediately takes me away from whatever tension I was feeling and puts my head in the middle of two trees and a tangle of power lines. By the time I’ve painted the shadows in the street a half-hour later, I’m relaxed again and ready to move on.


  1. Looks like this pair of trees are spreading their arms wide. Nicely done. With my workshop going on I've been too busy to sketch, but I am posting about the day. It is so nice to be someplace warmer than NY and with no snow. lol

  2. I've never heard about "the third place"! How odd, given I've lived lots of different places. But now, "Third Place Books" makes a lot of sense as a name!

  3. Your power company is relentless in its tree destruction. Looks like these two should be put out of their misery :-)


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