In Praise of Imperfection
I've kept a sketchbook since I was 10 years old. I'm sure those old sketchbooks, were they still around somewhere, would be full of peace signs, pencil-sketch still-lifes, and drawings from photo-editorials out of Vogue and Tiger Beat. There'd be sketches of Simon LeBon and Nick Taylor, and upside-down contour drawings taken from lessons out of "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". For I while I was working on a graphic novel involving fish who talked, and another in which a woman was born with cat characteristics. You get the idea.
In my daily art practice, the work that I produce does not grow from sketchbooks. My work is WORK and the way it comfortably and efficiently plays out is through sketches on single sheets of pretty specific paper, using lots of tracing, scanning, and manipulating by hand and computer. It's an active, dynamic process, and while it ALWAYS begins with the hand, with pencil and paper, it almost never begins in a sketchbook.
So for years, keeping a sketchbook seemed superfluous. Looking back through a recent sketchbook which I'd finally, determinedly filled, I realized the first page to the last represented a span of almost 10 years.
Sketchbooks are so easy to fetishize. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who fear the blank first page of a pristine new book. I can't say how many times I've drooled over images from prolific artists who keep raucous, beautiful, intense sketchbooks that look like works of art in and of themselves. I shouldn't reveal how often I say, "I'm going to draw in my sketchbook every day!" and then let that initiative slip away after feeling suffocated under the weight of expectation.
This struck me as a tragedy.
So on one of the last days of 2015 I went to the art supply store and bought two, TWO, brand new sketchbooks. (Hey, they were on a 2 for 1 sale!) Being so newly sketchbook rich, I determined that I will fill one of these books in 2016. This isn't a resolution. This is life, and it represents what I want to get out of it. It's far from perfect, but it's the day to day practice, the showing up, the muscle building, the long-game.