View Full Version : A million sketchbook questions
03-24-2004, 06:17 PM
I'm planning on applying to art school hopefully sometime in the near future and since I know that most of them require a sketchbook I have a few questions. I like to use the canson sketchbook of recycled paper in a size of 9"x12". What do you think of that size? I've seen other people with larger books and I wondered if I was working smaller than they'd prefer to see.
My second question is about neatness I guess you could say. I know it's important to present yourself as neat and tidy, but to what degree do they worry about it in a sketchbook? If I draw in charcoal or pastel I give it a spray with the fixative, since they'll easily slide right off the paper, but you know sometimes just graphite will rub on nearby pages and make them a little bit grey and slightly grubby. I'm not really bothered by it since it's just sketches, but the college might be. Do you spray all your pages with some fixative just as a matter of course? Also, if I use a wash, watercolour or ink, the page will obviously warp a bit. Is it a big no no to have some wobbly pages in it? Same thing goes with things drawn on other pieces of paper taped into the main sketchbook so that they can be included?
My final question is about drawing from life. Art schools insist that you draw from life, but does that include your sketchbook? Is there anything wrong with drawing from photos or copying other drawings (old masters for example) or will they look down on that? For instance, I found the threads in the drawing forum with images of different parts of the face to be fun and helpful. I like to draw bones, muscles, etc. from anatomy books and sometimes I want to draw a dog or some animal in more detail than I could get from life...the buggers tend to move a lot! haha. I just wondered how militant are they when it comes to things like that?
That's pretty much every possible question I could think of regarding sketchbooks. Sorry for the bombardment of questions. :D
HEYYY i think these are great questions and I think this thread has the potential to become a very interesting one with the replies :D
I don't think there are any set *rules* about what you have to do with your sketchbook. Sketchbooks are much like artist journals in that they encapture your thought processes about art, imagry around you, and are an exploration into your visual mind. That said, I think a sketchbook is whatever you want it to be - it should be about the stuff that YOU think you need to do to become a better artist. It should be about working your way through artistic problems, doing studies that help you practice your skills in rendering and representation, they should be use to get out your ideas onto paper, write down thoughts about your work and your life, and they should be about exploring your own thought process. How this is accomplished is entirely a personal choice. What schools are interested in seeing are that you *are* working through these problems, and are using your sketchbook to better yourself as an artist.
I cant give you any set guidelines about what you should do with your sketchbook. However, I can tell you what I do with mine, and my preferences own preferences about my sketchbook.
I keep my sketchbooks relatively small. Usually I stick with an 8 x 11 format, so I can easily slip it into my bag and carry with it wherever I go. I don't buy expensive, hardcover books because in my experience I go through 1 sketchbook a month and frankly, I dont have the funds to keep buying expensive books lol. What I do look for, however, when looking for a sketchbook is the quality of paper. I try and get books that have a sufficient amount of pages so I can get lots and lots of drawings out of them - however I also go for quality paper that has more weight and texture so that my books have the strength to handle many different kinds of medium, can stand up to my abuse of carying them around for a while without ripping and tearing, and I try and use paper that has a tooth and feel that I like to work on, to make drawing in it as enjoyable as possible (there are papers out there that i HATE to use with a PASSION!) Also I go for spiral bound, so not only can I make easier use of both front and back of pages, but i can also stick a pen in the spine.
What goes into my sketchbook is usually a combination of whatever I feel like at the time. Sometimes I sit in public places and I sketch and scribbled random people going abotu their buisness (a form of life drawing :) ) do anatomical studies from life or photographic references. I also use them to explore mark making and techniques - if there is something I want to try out before applying it to an actual piece, I will do it in my sketchbook, so I can make notes about the process, and comment about what it is I like and dont like. This includes the renderings of different textures like furs, hairs, and stuff, but also ways of playing with paint, and exploring mixing media. I am a fantasy artist at heart, so I use it to create images from my head, and come up with ideas for drawings that I can use for later use. I write notes to myself, use them to jot down phone numbers and addresses, times and dates as I need to. I also use them to write down thoughts like a journal, and write little blurbs in my mind. Sometimes I do more complete drawings which become the base for other works (like for digital junk that I'll scan into my computer and finish rendering in photoshop or flash). Sometimes I use it at life drawing sessions to do study of nude figures when I dont want to cary around newsprint. Other times I just scribble stupid cartoons, make weird abstract skribbles, and make just very very bad drawings lol
My sketchbooks are not need and tidy. They are filled with other papers that I may have taken from someplace else, that I have done something on and want to keep reference of. They are messy, dirty, abused and by the end of the month usually ready to fall apart. I dont worry about presentation because I dont feel that sketchbooks should be about presenting final works; They are about roughs, studies, and practicing.
I think that what any artist definately SHOULD do is do whatever they want with their sketchbook! If you want to keep it neet and clean to show off to friends than do it. But you shouldnt feel ashamed to make a mess of it if that is what makes you feel comfortable :) You should not stress out about a sketchbook - this should be the one place were you are actually allowed to make mistakes, and truely be yourself as an artist (School and teachers can tell you to do all sorts of things you dont really want to do because it is part of the curriculum - but they cant do this in a sketchbook! it is yours yours YOURS!)
Anyways, this is interesting. I'd love to here what other students have to say about what goes into their sketchbook. Also I'd be interested to hear if anybody else has any questions about this - this could make for good discussion :D
Actually guys *thought*
Why don't we all start a thread and share with each other the things in our sketchbooks, so we can get an idea about what sort of things people put in them??
Would you guys like to do something like that?
03-24-2004, 07:36 PM
Thanks Axl, I use a spiral book with a little bit more of a tooth too. Normally I don't worry about it being tidy but then I started thinking about how it's a mandatory part of the portfolio and if the state of it would matter. I wasn't as worried about it as I seem, but I wondered about a few things and as I was thinking about that more things started popping into my head. You know how it is ha ha. Good idea about the other thread! A lot of us just starting to think about going to college for art are pretty lucky to have you around. You do a great job. :clap:
03-25-2004, 01:23 AM
funny, once I knew i would have to be handing in a sketchbook I found myself having a couple on the go.
One for nice school stuff and one for doing whatever in.
Womble, why dont you start a new thread entitled something long the lines of What's in your sketchbook? and ask everyone to share some of the things they have in theirs - so we can all get an idea of what kind of things different students put into their books :D
If you are worried about how it looks from the outside, what if you made a false cover for it that gave it a more neat and tidy appearence, to put in with your protfolio along with the rest of your pieces? Wouldnt have to be much - just a folder or a binder that has the sketchbook attached to the inside somehow, that would allow them to see what the inside of your book, while making it look presentable from the outisde?
I like craigs idea of keeping 2 sketchbooks. Which book did you pass in, though? When I went to get my porfolio reviewed and they looked at my sketchbook, they told me that the scribbly, sketchy stuff was what they were more interested in seeing as opposed to books filled with finished pieces, but I guess this could change, too, from school to school.
03-25-2004, 09:29 PM
The book for school was "from life" eg my cat, plant, guitar , whatever. Other was random doodles, copying others stuff, or imaginary work. etc.
03-31-2004, 01:48 PM
In line with what Axl said, your sketchbook does not need to be neat and tidy. It does NOT need to have finished drawings. A comments that I get all the time about my sketchbooks are, "This really looks like a "thinking" book. That's very good."
Finished drawings belong in your portfolio. Your sketchbook needs to show that you are working through concepts and ideas in a visual way. They also need to show some "from life" drawings since many art teachers (though I disagree personally) feel that all artists need to draw something from life EVERY DAY. So, it may be a good idea to include some of those, so show that you are "looking" at things.
The people reviewing your sketchbook will be artists too (you would hope) so it doesn't need to be neat. They will understand if you get messy in there, and will in fact look upon mess as agreeable, showing that you are open and willing to experiment. Just make sure there's not a disagreeable smell or sticky things in there, that's just gross.
Do NOT fill your sketchbook with perfect drawings. No working artist has sketchbook full of finished work. This will come across as forced and deliberately made for the sake of college admissions. It will feel not like an authenic sketchbook.
Just some thoughts.
04-09-2004, 08:37 AM
A sketchbook is a place for random ideas/thoughts,it is never ordered or tidy.Just use it.
I have a 13 x 8" which I carry around in my small backpack.Also a home made[made from scrap newsprint]
10 x 7" and a premium grade home made sanguine coloured paper[the pages colour] 9.5 x 7".
The sanguine pencil I use on the sanguine paper,is smudge
proof and erasable with a soft white eraser.
That said.The Art school is looking for proof that you like to
draw,without having to be told to.Ditto for painting.
Enjoy your sketch books.
Certainly beats napkins or toilet paper[been there/done that] for recording ideas popping your head.
I kid you not.
04-10-2004, 11:47 PM
I went to Tyler and they sent us a list of supplies before the fresman year started. We used very large sketch books. Most of the drawing was done in class with models etc, so we never drew from photographs. We also used a lot of large newsprint pads. We also did not spray with fixative because in those classrooms there wasn't proper ventalation. I had one class in Rome where we made our own sketchbooks out of "found" books and we would gesso the pages and glue whatever we found into the books and draw on that. I loved that, I get a little intimidated by a blank white page.
04-11-2004, 09:28 AM
I really like all the answers i have seen so far. A sketch book i've found is a reflection of the artist. Some are neet and tidy and some aren't but usually they are always interesting. Just work as you work and it will sort itself out.
As for collage i went to west georgia, one of my drawing teachers required us to draw from bridgemans life drawing in our sketchbooks using a pen. and if we made a mistake we had to start over. believe me that was a real help
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