Lately I've been thinking about my mood in relationship to my sketchbook. If I have a successful 20 minute drawing session, it can make my day. It'll motivate me to keep working and even power through tasks that I feel like avoiding. If I have an unsuccessful drawing session, it'll put me in a funk for awhile. It can throw my whole day off. I hate that my sketchbook has such power of my moods. I wish it were the other way around. I wish I could take a bad mood and by working in my sketchbook turn it around.
I've been thinking back to some of my early beliefs about sketchbooks. Two years ago when I began a year of creative habits, I chose to draw every single day mostly because I felt like that's what artists did. I had this belief inside that "real" artists kept sketchbooks and I wanted to be a "real" artist. I didn't really think it through at the time but looking back I see that rather than challenge that belief, I challenged myself instead. I don't at all regret that, it changed my life but now I'm back questioning...is a sketchbook necessary? Do "real" artists keep sketchbooks?
And if they do, for what purpose?
Before I would have said that a sketchbook is a place for ideas. Sketcbhooks lead to finished works. Sketchbooks allow artists to work out ideas in terms of composition, imagery, color, etc.
Yet these purposes don't work for me. I prefer to work out my ideas within the actual piece of art. I like the layers and the thinking. If all the decisions and mistakes and corrections have already been made in my sketchbook, then what's the point in creating the piece? For me, all that was the fun part. Doing it over again neatly and/or larger is boring.
Instead I've found that sketchbooks can be a diary or a record book. They can hold notes and be a study tool. A sketchbook can be used as therapy or meditation. It can used as warm up or to practice skills, to experiment. It's something entirely on it's own and it doesn't have to relate to my other work at all, though probably will innately.
I'm amazed at how much I've learned from the habit of keeping of sketchbook—from how to build a habit, to how to draw animals and people, to how to cook an egg so I can take a photo of it next to my sketchbook. ;) And if I'm able to learn all that in just a couple years, what might a decade of sketchbooks teach me?