Do you need to be able to draw to have a great sketchbook?
No, Non, Ochi, Nien, Nej, Nie, Hayir, Net, No!
I taught for many years in secondary school and 90% of the time I taught sketchbook development. I always found the most exciting books were from the ‘less able’ students, the ones who didn’t care, and were not able, to produce an A* technically beautiful sketchbook.
One of my favourite boys wanted to draw and paint a cockerel (rooster). He had chickens and a cockerel so he knew their character well. He was a reluctant attendee at school and came to art occasionally, I saw it as my job to try and motivate this boy, to find out what he was interested in, to find out about his world. He started to tell me about his cockerel and its character, his eyes lit up and he became animated and alive. I encouraged him to draw in his sketchbook with big bold bright crayons, and then we translated this into acrylic paint. The cockerel in his painting was quirky and squawky, strutting across the page, so full of life. I loved his painting, it reminded me of Picasso’s roosters – and we know that Picasso wanted to draw with the freshness of a child. I do not have the work to show you, so here are the Picasso images that still remind me of my student.
I come from this school of thought – if we have a creative urge, if we can make marks patterns, lines, collage and paint, and this excites us and make us want to do more then we are so lucky. We are on the creative journey and this journey lasts a lifetime!
If we can keep this journey with us, on the move, in a bag on a table – in a sketchbook – this can be the first steps along the path. Over the years my own sketchbooks have become much more about mark making, and responding by developing the image in either a more realistic or more abstract way – and having such fun doing it!
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