I recall my very first ones; they had spiral bindings, red or orange covers. I scribbled in them furiously, took them to high school art class, and hauled them out to do wholly unsatisfying sketches outdoors – but mostly I sprawled on my tummy on the floor of my room (purple shag carpet; yes I chose it, yes I was in my teens, yes it was the 70’s, yes I think I should be excused on those grounds alone) dutifully doodling in pencil.
I recall my first real sketchbook, a gift from my colleague Alan Lee during a sojourn in the Antipodes and in Middle-Earth. When I mused how hard it was to start a first sketch in such a lovely – and so crisply pristine – object, he advised: “Just open it anywhere in the middle, that way if the first sketch isn’t so good, it won’t be the first one in the book.”
I recall taking the stage in Toronto at IdeaCity 2006 in front of 500 people, and ad-libbing a presentation about the advantages of low-tech hardbound A3 acid-free “laptops”, with notes hastily scribbled in my Daler-Rowney A3 Bluewave.
I recall spending an entire day, comfortably ensconced under a pine tree, next to the camp of the Laketown refugees, admiring the vista across Lake Tekapu, watching the beautifully costumed extras file by and drawing sketches of Erebor. Or sitting quietly in whatever pools of light could be found find inside dark sound stages, trying not to make too much noise sketching during takes. (I never thought I would ever be choosing pencils in function of their acoustics.)
Photo: Claude DUSSEX
I recall seaside vacations and hammocks, sketchbook perched on my knees, listening to cicadas and drawing whatever crossed my mind, a sketch a day. I recall staring in mild dismay at the contents of my pencil case and realizing that I had forgotten to sharpen 12 hours worth of pencils before stowing my utility knife in my checked luggage – and undertaking a series of, well… rather dull sketches.
A lot of your life can go into a sketchbook.
Come to think of it, mine probably has…
Thus, I’ve become a fervent advocate of the sketchbook, with all the truly subjective and categorical qualifiers ranging from the dithyrambic to the dismissive. For all these reasons, as well as for a goodly number of more objective ones, and prompted by the suggestions of a member of the forum, we’ve decided to undertake the creation of a special section dedicated to the very existence of sketchbooks: their history, their fabrication, famous sketchbooks through the ages, the artists who used them, where to buy them now and what best to use to draw in them.
And of course, YOUR views and thoughts and experiences.
Welcome to the Sketchbook Appreciation Society