I've finished my first sketchbook!
|A quote from my favourite novelist, Christoph Marzi:|
"Memories are living beings that are often silent and then,
usually in an irrepressible whimsy,
start talking as though they had never learnt to stay silent. "
I have a confession to make: I hoard journals and sketchbooks.
For the longest time, I have done so without ever really using them. I drew two or three things which didn't look good so I didn't want to continue sketching, or I wrote down a story idea that I never did anything with, so I couldn't go back to that journal without feeling guilty. This happened every single time. I was annoyed with myself, but didn't really know what to do.
Then one day, two years ago, I stumbled upon a book by American illustrator Cathy Johnson called "Artist's Journal Workshop" (which has its own blog here, and you can see my review from two years ago here). In this book, she describes ways to use an art journal, shows journals from other artists, and, most importantly, she talks about why YOU might want to keep YOUR art journal, what you could do to keep at it, and how you could deal with mistakes.
It wasn't a one-step cure for me, since I still bought other sketchbooks, and started and stopped working in them. Then I put them down, and later started using them again. Progress!
And it "only" took me a little over two years, but this week I finally finished my first sketchbook. Here's a selection of things I put in it:
I went to a Taylor Swift concert last year and tried out my watercolour pencils by illustrating some of her lyrics. (Yes, I have a thing for roads.)
"Out of the Woods" (The rest of the world was black and white / But we were in screaming colour) and "Wonderland" (Flashing lights and we / took a wrong turn and we / fell down a rabbit hole ...
We found wonderland / you and I got lost in it / And life was never worse, and never better").
I also went to the Film Music Festival in Krakow, Poland.
And if I'm honest, the autographs from Dario Marianelli (who won an Oscar for "Atonement") and Bartosz Chajdecki (who does beautiful scores for Polish productions) were a huge (HUGE) reason for not giving up on this sketchbook and always coming back to it.
I got inspiration from literature.
Above is a movie still from "Atonement", surrounded by quotes from the novel. (Go read. Watch the movie. Listen to the score. It is perfect.)
Below is a sketch for a German poem called "John Maynard". My grandma loves the poem, and could identify my drawing without me telling her what I had thought about :).
I want to create my own graphic novels.
I have always been writing, but was never happy with the lack of visual aids. It never even occured to me to think of a graphic novel until a year or so ago.
This sketchbook contains my very first attempts to translate the structure in my outlines into visually satisfying imagery.
(I have since learned that I need to practise layout and character design :).)
Sometimes I took my sketchbook with me and sketched outside. This was really daunting, but also fun. I was always scared that people would want to see things and then say something mean, but the few people who asked were always very kind :).
The bottom left image shows the very first cautious drawing I did in my sketchbook. I had just bought it, and was sitting in a coffee shop, watching the people sitting outside and waiting for a music lesson.
This shows the two drawings I was most proud of by the time I finished.
I could probably draw them both again now, and they'd look much better, but the left one was the first time I had a creative idea I was proud of and thought worked really well, and the one on the right was the first time I used pastels and it actually looked somewhat like it was supposed to.
I've recently watched a youtube video of a then-15-or-16-year-old, showing off her most recent sketchbook, stating "That's like the LONGEST time it's ever taken me to finish a sketch book. Took me like 3 MONTHS". It is full of completed drawings, and for a moment I was a bit taken aback (read: annoyed at myself). But then again, this was my first sketchbook. I didn't really know what I was doing, never knowing which style I liked or which medium I wanted to use. I didn't draw as much in the beginning as I do now. (And I have a job where I can't draw. Whereas she is in school.) But that's not the really important thing. I don't actually care about finishing in three months or less (that was just my normal pessimistic nature showing through).
What I care about is learning things about myself and my art, putting down ideas so I won't forget them, practising techniques I need to practise, and continuing my education. I care about my drawings, and I care about my sketchbook representing me at this point in time. (Stupidly I also care about aesthetic. I'm working on not being bothered by mistakes.)
And when I feel really bad about my own sketchbook compared to the ridiculous amount of super-pretty art journals from other people, I think about something that Swedish artist Nina Johansson said during a one-year drawing project she did: