This week my sketchbook was all over the place...collage, spray paint, writing, drawing. Even though it's not focused, I feel like I figured out so much. It was definitely a learning process and that makes each page worth it.
Lately I've been questioning why I keep a sketchbook. I wrote some random thoughts about sketchbooks a few weeks ago. I think there's lots of good reasons to keep a sketchbook but I've really been trying to figure out my own good reason. What's my purpose for all this?
I've always had this belief that artists keep sketchbooks and that sketchbooks were for ideas. Sketchbooks were for practice sketches, compositions notes, color notes, etc. and that those bits could be put together and would make a great painting or drawing or larger work of some kind. Then after a year of keeping a sketchbook, I wasn't so sure that this was true–at least for me.
I found that often I couldn't follow the composition plan that I'd laid out in my sketchbook, or that my sketch was better than the 'real' drawing, and that my notes were often left behind because the process of creating something larger or more finished led me in a completely new direction.
So if that's the case, what IS the purpose of my sketchbook?
Since I wrote those random thoughts a few weeks ago, I've focused it. Instead of a place to KEEP ideas, I'm finding my sketchbook is a place that I FIND ideas. It's not a container or a holder for ideas so much as place to work and discover or find ideas.
This realization has led me to rethink my sketchbook habit. You see I have lots of ideas and lots of unfinished projects and paintings. I'm questioning why I need to work in my sketchbook daily. If I have an idea and am working on my project perhaps that is more important work than finding a new idea in my sketchbook. I know that often my daily sketchbook work keeps me from working on and finishing other things. Before I thought it was just a time issue, I don't have time to do both. Now I'm thinking it's also an idea issue. The sketchbook is leading me to new and more ideas and then I'm abandoning old ideas before I've completed or worked through them.
That would be perfectly fine if my only goal was to keep a sketchbook. However I'm realizing I also would like to create larger, more finished works. I'm finding I may need to adjust my daily habit in order to reach both goals.