A few weeks ago I was wandering the art aisle of a well-known store that rhymes with small tart, and I saw the a tiny little 4×5 sketchbook for a couple bucks. I’d been needing a small sketchbook to doodle in while on car rides and sitting in waiting rooms, so I grabbed it and decided to keep it in my purse.
Weird thing is, I didn’t realize how necessary that sketchbook would become.
I call it a “blind book,” as it’s a book only I’m allowed to open and everyone else is blind to it. Not even my husband is allowed to see the pages inside, unless I want him to see something specific. This is the first rule you should apply to at least one (or all) of your sketchbooks, as it gives you a freedom to mess up. Messing up happens to everyone. And if we’re so busy worrying about how so-and-so is going to see that page with the thousand erased pen lines and a wonky facial structure, then we’re never going to get anywhere. So make one of your books blind. Keep it to yourself. Allow yourself to screw up.
But it’s not just a place where I can sketch random ideas, it’s also where I jot down notes, concept lists, and anything and everything I feel will help me in my journey to growing as an artist. If I read something interesting in a color theory book, for instance, it goes right into the book. If I hear something compelling on a YouTube video showcasing one of my favorite artists, it goes into the book.
Don’t get me wrong, I do sketch in it, but in more of a note-taking way. For instance, when reading a book about the human form I learned about the “two-minute” exercise, during which you sketch a figure in the short amount of time and then move on. It teaches you to break free of the overthinking that tends to happen when you try to draw something technical. I like to use this sketchbook for these two-minute experiments. Sometimes I roll my eyes at the nonsensical figure I’ve just created. Other times I feel like a badass. I learn something from both experiences.
The book’s small size is probably the best feature. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a sketchbook this small before, but I will definitely keep one from now on. Its small size means it can come with me anywhere. I simply clip my mechanical pencil to the cover and toss it into my purse, art bag, or just carry it in my hand. I can bring it with me on road trips, hikes, and scribble in it at the library while Goo plays on the floor. There are simply no excuses to not having it with me at all times.
With this little sketchbook I’ve really only created two rules for myself: keep it blind, and follow my flow. It keeps me open minded and free, and allows my subconscious to breathe. I strongly encourage it to any and all who create.
What about you? Do you keep a pocket sketchbook? What sorts of things do you like to fill it with? Let’s chat art!