Freehand Skool: Sketchbook as Document & Impetus - Lesson 4

This lesson is best completed with a friend. You will need nature field guides, the newspaper, and some art reference books.

Separation Anxiety: An Exercise in Collaboration

Many of us use our sketchbooks as a sort of scrap-booking entity. We pull bits from the paper, magazines, writings about shows, pictures of friends, drawings done on napkins and other ephemera and place them in our books, which adds layer upon layer of depth. Often we become so attached to our books that they become a bit too personal to share, to mar, or to get dirty in.

Prompt #1
  • Part I – Research: Turn to a new page in your sketchbook. Find a diagram, picture, or drawing in a reference book that you find interesting. Copy any aspect of this drawing (you may choose to draw the whole diagram or picture, a small piece, or an embellishment of the image in front of you. Any of these options is fine for this exercise).
  • Part II – Detachment: Tear or cut the drawing which you have just made out of your sketchbook and hand it to your friend.
  • Part III - Response: Draw a response to the original drawing that your friend has made. Pass it back and forth as many times as seems fit.

I would suggest doing several of these collaborative sketches. When you are finished I would tape or paste them back into your books.

As you were responding to the dialogue that your friend began, did you find yourself thinking about anything different creatively than you normally would when left to your own devices?


Often religious scenes, illustrations and photographs “riff off” and reference other images. These images become part of our shared accumulated knowledge. Most people will recognize the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and Manet's Olympia. Using these images in your work provides a catalyst for new work as well as a reference point for viewers to understand, or in some cases be mislead, by the artists intentions. Often certain scenes are re-envisioned numerous times for new venues and publications. The Last Supper and David and Goliath are two Biblical examples. While many fictional stories also have a number of different illustrated versions.

Prompt # 2

Using print outs of Dore's and Da Vinci's Last Supper as well as the small scene from the Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland(You can find the images all at the bottom of this post), construct a new image in your sketchbook. You are welcome to tape these new images into your sketchbook and draw in interaction with these print outs, cut the print outs in any manner you wish, group the figures in the print out and draw from them in your sketchbook or do any number of these options until you find something you like. The goal is to re-envision the scene to suit your needs and wants as an artist.

Prompt # 3

Now that you have created some imagery using collage and drawing from images of my choosing. Look through some art books or online at different pieces of art and try the same exercise with works that you see a common thread in.

Thanks for stopping by and working with us today. Be sure to check back on Wednesday for Lesson 4 of Freehand Skool: Sketchbook as Document & Impetus. And remember you can see work from my sketchbooks and final pieces on my instagram and my blog.