Freehand Skool: Sketchbook as Document & Impetus - Week 1

Perhaps the most important tool that an artist can utilize is his/her notebook or sketchbook. The sketchbook is a playground for observation, thought, and problem solving. Some prefer to write, some draw, and some a combination of the two. I find that my sketchbooks hold everything from grocery and bill paying lists, to sketches from life, and ultimately some final illustrations. The sketchbook is the single most important device in my creative pursuits.

As an instructor in Maine College of Art's Continuing Studies program, I used to teach a course called Sketchbook as Document & Impetus. I no longer teach at MECA, but I feel more than ever that the material that I discovered and assembled is valuable in the efforts of keeping an active sketchbook and, as such, in order to be a creative person. After some thought, I've determined that I would be in keeping with the mission of Freehand Armada to share this information here at Freehand Armada Mission Control in a weekly segment. I hope that you enjoy this class and are able to make some valuable connections in your work going forward.

- The Mighty Lark (and remember, you can find more of my projects, sketchbooks, and musings over at Mighty Lark dot Com)

Re-centering exercise.

Re-centering – to observe the familiar from a new vantage point.

Aldous Huxley -
“The experience microscopist will see certain details on a slide, the novice will fail to see them. Walking through a wood, a city dweller will be blind to a multitude of things which the trained naturalist will see without difficulty. At sea, the sailor will detect distant objects which, for the landsman, are simply not there at all.”

What is the role of the creative observer? What do we notice that others do not? How does this frame the events which are occurring?

Prompt #1

Think for a few minutes. Who was the 1st person you saw after you left your house this morning? Visualize the individual. What did they look like? What were they doing? What were they wearing?
How did you happen on them?

After you visualize in your head for a few moments, list as many details as you can remember.

Step 2

Repeat for two other people of note that you saw today.

Prompt #2

Now that you have fully visualized the first person that you saw today, attempt to do a drawing of that person from memory.

Representative Observation.

Finding select elements to focus on & finding analogous relations they're in.

  • The woman wore the reddest coat possible. Chuck Berry's “Nadine” was playing. 10 am.
  • The old woman has been watching Downton Abbey. There is a movie with one of the stars of the show out. She is going to the movies at 1:30 while wearing a very regal royal purple hat.
  • There was a Curves Gym on this corner. They tore it down & put in a rotary.

What visual keys did you pick up today off of the people around you? What materializes in your head as you consider the relationship of the people that you meet and their idiosyncrasies?

Prompt # 3

Using your list of characteristics from the first person you saw this morning, create a short descriptive explanation of that person in this same musical/poetic manner.