Monday, May 31, 2010

The Sketchbook

Most artist have a sketchbook they carry around with them almost anywhere.
(Or should that be 'almost everywhere'? Perhaps it should be both.)

I am a writer at heart and since an early age I have filled the pages of journals with words, occasionally pausing to sketch something here or there. The most perfect journal I've ever owned was a hand bound blue leather one with unlined pages. I could write as much as I wanted, but when the desire to sketch took me the pages were heavy enough to be worthy of this application.

My current journal is lovely, but it doesn't full fill both journal and sketchbook, so I've been using my proper full-sized sketchbook once again. I have to admit, it's not well used. When I was in high school I filled sketchbooks rapidly. This was due to the high volume of assignments given and my own passion for filling it as I went along. Not long after I graduated I went through a period of about three years where my creativity wained and then pretty well ceased. This was my own fault for not paying attention. I put my focus everywhere but on myself.

That lesson has been learned, but it's odd to pick this sketchbook up and look through it again because so much of what it's in it was from that time when I lost myself. I dated the first page: Begun August '05

That's a long time to not fill all those lovely blank pages. Even now it's still only about three-quarters full. What does grace the pages is both unusual and interesting to look at. There is a spattering of drawings from those three years where I was hardly journalling and in no way would have identified as an artist. The few that there are seem almost pained. Occasionally I see one where I was trying to get out from the strange shell of a person I'd let myself become.

More recently the pictures are exploratory. I can see the ones from my time at the Youth Animation Project. Experimentation came back into my life. I can see the way in which I began to draw again, not because I felt I should, but because I simply must.

The most recent entries are the work I've been doing on a business card design and for the Calgary Dyke March logo. I find the logo the most interesting as the inspiration for it came from a sketch I'd done years ago. Done years ago, but still in this particular book.

When I got my first tattoo I was so eager for more. I was addicted but I knew the cost would probably keep me from going too nuts. As a result I spent a lot of time doodling tiny things for one off tattoos here or there. One of my designs incorporating a black triangle and the symbol for Venus was abandoned as a tattoo, but never far from the back of my mind. It was a design I'd been quite chuffed with and as it is, the committee for the Calgary Dyke March has loved all the new versions I've sent.

It was bizarre, though, when they first asked me to do it because I instantly thought of that symbol and figured it would be perfect. Since most of my sketchbooks have been left in Calgary, I thought I'd have to re-design it from memory. As it is, that symbol is in the corner of an otherwise empty page, very early on in this book. It seems a lifetime ago, drawn when I was working at an entirely different job, when I'd first moved out of my parents house. Drawn by someone far more naive than I am now. Drawn and re-visited in an entirely different life.

I can look back through my journals and see how much I've changed, but there's something inherently different about seeing growth in the images I've drawn. I remember myself then. I remember how I felt like I had everything figured out. How I felt like it was actually possible to accomplish such a thing. I remember being really certain of where I'd be in five years.

I couldn't be happier to have all those preconceptions blown away.

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