It starts with a look, a gaze that centers your attention on a thing, in a moment. It’s so beautiful, so curious, so moving. Looking, you begin to see the thing, really see and be with it. Your imagination draws you in. It may be an object, a figure in a space or place, a scene in nature. The senses awaken and there’s a sense of urgency to capture this thought, this thing that you are seeing and feeling. A camera doesn’t do it, though a photo is an instant reference and memory. There’s more to observe and know about this image and moment in time that you living. It’s a sketchbook moment.
A mini-sized journal and simple drawing tools are all you need to take time to create. The habit of using a sketchbook with a preferred drawing medium can transform the way you look at the world everyday. It’s an art studio in a book. The blank pages are like rooms waiting to be filled with your creative mark, with all the stuff that you think, feel and see. Drawing on a moment focuses intention. It gives attention to the details, the light and shadow, the shapes of lines that put it into perspective. It expresses a thing in time and space. Drawing is the bones of art. This is how the artist learns the structure and essential order of their subject, to enjoy and remember what is observed. Drawing with an artist’s eye moves the mind and hands to make what is seen and intuitively known. To sketch and discover how something looks and moves is art in action.
Having a sketchbook to go is my loved-habit of over forty years. I have dozens that tell my history through what, when and where I was drawing. My sketchbooks are a series of visual journals that have companioned me on my average life’s journey. These small volumes reflect my personal interpretations. They are not so much a match of what I am observing, more an original mark that establishes the key elements of color, light, form, value, and the artistic sensibility of a composition. I work in this manner and use the quick studies as references for painting in the studio. Living on the Maine seacoast keeps me looking at nature and trying to catch water in motion. This is what moves me. With my sketchbook, it’s creativity to go with the flow. I can record the moments that give me pleasure and open my awareness, whether I am sitting on a sandy beach, riding on the train to the city, or just being present with my imagination.
Here’s how to start a “creativity to go” kit for your sketchbook moments. First, get a blank journal with paper suitable for your medium. They are widely available with mid to heavy weight paper for pencil, charcoal, crayon, pen, mixed media or collage. If you are a writer or make ink sketches, a blank writing journal is optimal. Light watercolor can be used on heavier types of paper or get a plein air journal with watercolor paper. Choose a sketching medium. A few are listed, this is how to personalize your style and learn different techniques. I work with a range of graphite, colored pencils, small pan set of watercolors, and watercolor pencils. Making a color study informs my painting, and some are just doodles. It’s a creative work-in-progress. Now, with simple materials and a sketchbook – take moments and make moments that will give you those moments to enjoy again, each time you look at the pages.
Here’s an opportunity for a morning of creative wellness and sketchbook moments by the sea. Join our Art HOPE Gallery & Garden Studio at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art on June 2, a free program celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day and community arts.