Life Cycle of a Sketchbook

I am a big fan of the sketchbook as an idea factory. For me, it’s an indispensable resource of thumbnails, studies, scribbles and half baked plans. Some artists have beautiful sketchbooks that look like illuminated holy texts, with every page given hours of loving care and elaborate attention. My sketchbooks are just the opposite: messy and dogeared and by the time I’m finished with them they look like they’ve been through a war.

Ideas, good and bad, need a place to live. For me, that’s a sketchbook.

Exhibit A: A brand new shiny sketchbook on the left – a coverless, mangled, well loved sketchbook on the right. I like sketchbooks that have perforated pages, as they are much easier to remove and post up on my studio wall or next to my easel.


One of the many pages of thumbnails from the last sketchbook. Ideas tend to mingle along with poses and gestures and other gibberish.

I’ll often write descriptive notes alongside thumbs- this is especially useful when working on personal projects that are more ambiguous than commissioned work, and can use the specificity.


I also take my sketchbook for studying at museums when I’m lucky enough to go. This drawing is of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, “The Mighty Hand.”


I also use my sketchbook for gestures during life drawing sessions. The model for this session was dressed in a jester outfit and reminded me a lot of a character out of a Diego Velasquez court painting.

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