My trusty sketchbook is never far away, whatever I'm working on in the studio. I see it as a free space, with no rules, just for play. It's a testing ground for ideas, colours and shapes. It's also a dumping ground for left over paint and interesting snippets of collage paper that seem too precious to throw away.
I didn't always feel this way about my sketchbooks. For many years I was hung up on feeling like my sketchbooks should look like some perfectly curated and professionally published art book, featuring the best of everything, with not a pencil stroke out of place; a book of wonderful finished artworks to 'show' to people. Perhaps it was to do with being faced with so many beautiful crisp clean white pages and approaching them with the intention of just scribbling all over them, in an incoherent fashion, felt like such a disrespectful thing to do!
But now I see the value and importance of doing just that. It is from these messy explorations and investigations that new ideas come into being, fresh lines of inquiry are borne and there is no commitment to resolve an idea beyond those pages if I chose not to. A large blank canvas can be an overbearing and intimidating place to test an idea and to play around without purpose and these days I have usually bashed around an idea in my sketchbook for a while and allowed an intention to crystallise, before taking the next step of working through it on a canvas or board, that might eventually become a finished painting.
So now I just enjoy the freedom of those crisp white pages and all the endless possibilities that come with them; no rules, just play.
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