Written by: Kaitlyn Frolek, Gallery Assistant
I remember my first years in university taking the mandatory drawing classes, thinking I knew it all already. I hated the fact that I had to use a sketchbook. Hated it! The night before my portfolio was due, I would frantically draw in what I considered a useless book. The sketches were always simple, messy scribbles. It wasn’t until the fourth year of my BFA that I truly understood and appreciated the amazing tool that is the sketchbook, the two dimensional one. I was always so caught up in my work. My sketchbook became a vessel for my thoughts, frustration, paint ratio mixtures, negative exposure times, and photo chemical mixtures. The book started to travel everywhere with me, and began to fill with text, doodles, found materials, and bits of inspiration. It was finally a book that I understood and used every day.
As I have researched for this blog post, certain interesting discoveries and realizations have emerged. There no longer is the standard sketchbook. Instagram, Facebook, and blogs have become a new form of sketchbook. Artists and writers alike now document not only sketches, but works in progress, ideas that never came to be, and finished creations. We use these different methods of “sketching” to rid ourselves of excess ideas, or to deposit an idea and bring it to fruition. Photographing drawings, paintings, prints, posting them to social media, and gaining followers, likes, and shares has transformed how artists “sketch” and produce. Our sketchbooks are not two dimensional anymore.
A year ago, I had my first child: a beautiful baby boy. My life was completely out of balance. The previous six years consisted of my BFA, MFA, teaching, and art making. That was starting to slip away. My days and nights began to run into one another with feedings, diaper changes, and puking disasters. Slowly, I was becoming this tired-looking zombie mama. I loved every minute of it, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I truly knew love until I had my son. But, I found my old self leaving. Time flew and I was back at work. Working days, taking care of a child and home, being up multiple times during the night, and doing it all over again the next day leaves little time, energy, or patience for an art practice (at least for the first year). I had no idea how to balance work, baby, husband, and art practice. I hadn’t picked up a pencil or paint brush for over six months. The itch to start creating and producing work tickled me constantly, but there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in my day.
One night I was rooting through my book shelf trying to find something to read in an attempt to wind down for the evening. I found some of my old sketchbooks. Here was this wonderful treasure, one that I had once hated. In my hands was a book full of past inspiration and future promise. The sketchbook again became a tool that I could use to satisfy that nagging itch to create… something, anything.
Now not only do I have my paper sketchbook, but social media is also an outlet of expression and “sketching.” I have the ability to share my drawings, photos of in progress work, or even pictures of my son and I. The possibilities are endless. Restriction from my life is no longer such a pressure on being a practicing artist. I have an amazing outlet that I had never considered before. When the time comes that I have more time, my inspiration will be waiting in the different forms of my sketchbook.