To all my wonderful friends at the Creative Commitment!
I am sorry that it has taken me so long to write, but there were so many months when I couldn’t. Traditional chemotherapy and radiation were brutal on my system; we abandoned them and have opted for other treatments, leading to weeks of recovery.
I am writing today to say a huge thank you to those of you who have taken the time to drop me a note of well-wishes, sent a treat or made a piece of artwork for me. I can honestly say that your cards, letters and art made the toughest times bearable. Cancer is a bitch that makes you question everything, so thank you and I’ll post again soon.
Your Secret Ingredient for Amazing Artwork
I know, it sounds like click-bait. We’ve all seen the secret or weird trick used to get people to click. However, this is one that I use all the time.
My favourite art tool is… my sketchbook. I’m never far from it whether I’m at home or travelling. Everyone has a personal approach to their sketchbook. Here are a number of ways in which I use mine.
This is the perfect place to try out different media and develop some proficiency without wasting materials or having your process hampered by expectation. My sketchbook is my safe place where I can experiment without having my editor ever show up.
Building your hand/eye coordination and getting in those 10,000 hours that it evidently takes us to become proficient is another benefit of the sketchbook. Don’t worry about creating finished works and, whatever you do, don’t just draw one subject per page, centred – fill that page, or the two-page spread, with multiple views, multiple subjects or approaches.
I’ve mentioned using thumbnails before, they’re a great way to rough in your main compositional elements and make sure your lines, shapes and values are working before you move onto your final work. In your sketchbook you can develop a single composition or series and make most of your design decisions. This will save you a lot of time later on.
Next to my sketchbook you will find my glue stick. Whenever I come across something 2D that resonates I will glue it into my sketchbook and annotate it. 3D objects can be photographed and used the same way.
Whether I’m webbing or trying out different layouts for a composition I find my sketchbook indispensable. Ideation is a skill onto itself, sort of like a muscle that you can develop with use. It’s truly amazing what happens once you get the obvious ideas down on paper and move past them.
Journalize and Document
Whenever I’m travelling I have my sketchbook (and glue stick) close at hand. At the end of the day I’ll get out the collection of coasters, napkins, post cards, business cards, etc. And glue these onto my pages in a pleasing arrangement, then fill in the blanks with sketches and writing. This way I’ve got a chronological record of my trip – this is also great for processes that you want to document in order of chronology.
I also glue an envelope into the inside cover of each travel sketchbook to help with the collection of treasures.
A former student of mine, Alex Honeywell, recently put me onto a series of videotaped interviews that get to the heart of how design professionals utilize their sketchbooks. He was instrumental in putting these together as part of italiaDesign 2016, an undergraduate field school and research program offered at Simon Fraser University. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Until next time – Happy Creating,