Editor’s note: The following post is part 2 of a series from Drawing magazine’s Material World column (Summer 2016) and features an article by Sherry Camhy on a timeless friend of the artist: the sketchbook.
In addition to this free article, Lucid Art is offering you the chance to win a FREE LUCY Camera Lucida drawing tool, just for commenting on this blog post! Simply tell us your favorite pencil or pen for sketching in the comments below, and you’ll be automatically entered to win.
Come back soon for Part 3 of this article on sketchbooks from Drawing magazine and another chance to win more art swag!
Material World: Getting the Most out of Drawing Media (Part 2)
by Sherry Camhy, abridged from an earlier article
The important thing about a sketchbook is not what it costs but whether it suits your individual artistic needs. It should be something you want to keep with you for drawing anywhere at any time.
Some artists use inexpensive sketchpads for practice. Others use bound sketchbooks for casual visual notations, for more serious studies or for completely finished images. Sketchbooks can also be private journals where artists maintain ongoing commentaries and visual diaries. Opening an old sketchbook of this type can be like remembering a long- forgotten dream.
You can turn anything you have on hand into a sketchbook if need be—why not? When I was 10 years old I turned my math textbook into my first sketchbook, unbeknown to my teacher. Much later I found an old French anatomy book in a thrift store and used it for a series of life drawings.
My first real sketchbook was a gift.
I was attending a sketch class, and the artist sitting next to me asked, “Why are you drawing in a newsprint pad?” I said that it didn’t matter what I used, as I was just practicing. At our next class, he handed me an elegant leather-bound sketchbook. I was terrified to draw in it at first, but that fear forced me to pay serious attention to every line, figure and composition. It mattered. I loved the fine feel of the paper under my pencil. I kept that sketchbook snugly in my back pocket until it was full.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for and working in a new sketchbook:
• The papers used in different sketchbooks vary greatly in their color, thickness and texture, among other factors. Before purchasing a new sketchbook you want to determine whether the paper will suit your needs. Read the manufacturer’s description carefully, then open up the book and feel the paper yourself. Check both sides of a sheet—they may feel different.
• Test the sturdiness of the front and back covers. Having a firm support behind your paper is important when working on location.
• Check whether pages can be re- moved neatly—you may want to be able to pull out individual drawings. On the contrary, you may prefer a permanently bound sketchbook from which it’s difficult to remove pages. Note that with some books you may be able to remove a whole group of sheets, known as a signature, together in one piece, leaving no sign that pages are missing.
• You can make your own unique books from scratch using any kind of paper—lined, unlined, manufactured, handmade, printed, cut, torn, gesso-coated, painted or collaged. You can even create a small sketchbook with just an 8 1⁄2″-x-11″ sheet of paper. (Come back to ArtistsNetwork soon to see a demonstration in Part 3 of this series and learn how to make your own sketchbook.)
• Make your sketchbook your best friend. Don’t leave home without it. And remember, if your sketchbook is just for you, spelling and drawing mistakes don’t matter!
NOTE: Come back to ArtistsNetwork soon for Part 3: Sketchbooks Today (and another chance to win new drawing supplies!) And, remember to comment below with your favorite pencils/pens for your chance to win this LUCY Camera Lucida! Winner will be chosen February 28, 2017 (must be a US resident).