Friday, August 17, 2007

Idea books

Sketchbooks and sample books are source materials for artists everywhere. I recently sorted through a huge stack of old sketchbooks and journals and discarded many (blasphemy to some I'm sure). It was interesting to see that some were full of uninteresting random doodling, while others had page after page of intriguing sketches. Why??

I've been working recently to try to improve my use of these support materials. Maybe it's all the scientific training that makes my journals read like experiment logbooks. There's something to be said for assessing what I've done and planning what I will do, but the language nature of that approach is not as exciting as the visual experiments. Often the contents devolve to brain dump, a record of where I was and what interesting things I saw.

Recently, I've been trying to take a more proactive view of my journals and view them as a jumping off point. If I saw an interesting site, can I focus in on one idea and work from it as part of the record? On my recent trip to Europe, I tried to make time to do sketching and collaging in the journal I took along (very difficult at the pace we kept). I prepared some pages with quick watercolor washes beforehand, and carried watercolor pencils and crayons, markers, scissors and glue, and a sacrificial magazine. My favorite page is the pen sketch of Casa Batllo in Barcelona, with added color from Aquarelle crayons.
Now I'm planning to try this approach with enamel painted beads. I'll prepare a base bead and anneal it, then paint a wash background with enamel and fire in the kiln, then add a freehand pen sketch on top and fire again. Finally, I'll tweak the color with more enamel.

On the flights home from Minneapolis, I worked on electroforming sketches. Here are a few of the ideas currently in progress.