Why you need a sketchbook

Mishu says: “Sketchbooks make excellent chairs.”

The sketchbook is the artist’s best friend and most interesting tool. If you do not already have one, you should start one today. Why is that? Because your artwork will benefit greatly from it. One reason here is naturally that sketching is practice and practice will at any given time improve your work, but sketching can also be very liberating.

It is important to remember that your sketchbook is your playground. It is where you can try out ideas, free of concerns of perfection that may otherwise be present when you work on a piece. When using your sketchbook you should never worry about the outcome. Why not? Joe Bluhm says it best: “Don’t draw in a sketchbook with the intention of showing off! You will never get any real, honest practice if everything is a contest.”

Not only is practice important, but when you cease to worry about competition with other artists you will also enjoy drawing more, it becomes about you, your ideas, creations and expression and that is what your art should be about: What YOU have to say.

In 2008 when I enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Aarhus, Denmark, the first thing our professors requested of us, was that we purchased a sketchbook of small enough size that it would fit in any handbag so that we might always carry it with us. Your sketchbook should always be readily available to you, so that when you may record your ideas and inspiration at any given time. Whether it be when you are on the bus, walking down the street, sitting at home, hanging out with friends and so on. You never know when something may spark your interest, so therefore it is important to be able to record it right away when it does, so you do not forget.

In time a pattern will form in your sketchbook. You will see which things that inspire you and what subjects you prefer to work with. Then, when you need ideas for your more serious works – you have a whole personalized book full to pick from.

Collage of sketches from my 2012 Sketchbook

 

When first I was told to keep a sketchbook, I was a little skeptical of the idea (I was young, naive and silly!) but I very quickly grew to love it, and I have ever since kept a new sketchbook every year: I like numbering them by year because I can easily see my progress then. Although the drawings in it are not of finished quality you can still see improvement.

My sketchbooks have also become a form of diaries or study journals if you will. When looking through them I am looking through my life at the time. Another great benefit I found, is that I no longer have a hundred scraps of paper scattered all over my space, all my doodles and ideas are now neatly kept in the book.

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

1 Comment

  • eygji

    10.05.2012 at 14:59 Reply

    so true!
    I’ve always had a sketchbook (or random scraps of paper) that I’ve kept at home when I wanted to draw at home…

    Just recently I started carrying a sketchbook small enough to fit in my back pocket. It was probably one of the best things I’ve done. I carry it everywhere, just like you said, you never know when inspiration may strike!

    (I’ve also started sharing some of the sketches I enjoy on a blog too, but it’s first and foremost for fun and for myself. 🙂

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