sketchbook practice

Hello! Happy Friday!  This morning I was cleaning up a little (I feel a big purge coming on, which always happens as I switch out my spring/summer and fall/winter clothes) and stumbled across this lovely piece of chintz printed with elderberry trees.  I found it some time ago at a thrift store and bought it on impulse, even though it is too small to do anything with (perhaps it was a door curtain panel?).  Now I know why I bought it.  I pulled out my painting sketchbook and got to work:

Generally, if I am thinking about sketching and painting for pottery purposes, I use a blue pen or blue paints- gouaches here, because my watercolors were in another room and I didn't want to stop and gather them up.  As soon as I finished adapting the chintz design, I grabbed one of the tumblers I made last week and painted the image onto the cup.  I have a large elderberry in one of my front flowerbeds that I've been training into a tree form.  They're weedy here, but I love the clusters of creamy blossoms and the late summer set of dark purple fruit (and I love the elderberry syrup I make from them to take when I'm feeling a virus coming on), so I keep mine pruned back to a manageable size and a fountain-like shape.  I'm not sure anyone else will want an elderberry cup, but I've made one and will almost definitely add it to my blue botanical series I'm building this year.

Thinking about how valuable this sketchbook is to me, made me think about a conversation I had some weeks ago with a friend about sketchbooks and different people's sketchbook practices.  This friend talked about a sketchbook lending library wherein people would check out a book, add to it over a period of time, then turn it back in.  I admittedly have a hard time letting things go (my mother just gave me a box full of sketchbooks from highschool), but I was horrified by the idea of losing my sketchbooks because I refer back to them so often.

Here are the three books I'm using right now.  There is actually one more, but it is downstairs in a bag.

Opened, you can see that one is handmade- the bottom book is made of a recycled book with the block cut out, watercolor paper, and sewn in.  I made it this summer when I took this class as a pick-me-up after finishing a big commission and I was feeling a little cross-eyed.  I'm picky about this one- I WANT it to be pretty, but there are definitely some duds.  Generally, because I want it to be something I enjoy looking at, I work at unlovely pieces until I'm happy with them, but there are still plenty of duds, and it's all practice. 

The next book, the Fabriano, is probably my favorite everyday sketchbook.  The last time I bought them I bought several because my art store had a hard time getting them.  I really like the textured paper, and that there are 30 pages in 12 sections, so it is perfect for an every-day sketchbook, and it comes in both 4x6 and 6x8, which is what I have.  I take notes for ceramic techniques in it, sketch out ideas, and I'm not at all worried about whether or not it's lovely.  These are the sketchbooks I'd hate to lose.

The third,a tiny book, is one I buy in multiples and keep in my purse, knitting bag, car, everywhere.  Right now I have this small 3.5x5.5 and a larger 5.5 squares active.  The bright blue binding is why I first bought these journals, but I like the thick creamy paper.  I generally only use pens in these (pigma microns are the ones I really like, but only in size 01), but I think I might try watercolors in the square version.  I also have the ubiquitous moleskines everywhere, and a watercolor moleskine that I haven't jumped into yet.

You can see that they're well used and bear the marks of living in the studio, as full of clay on the inside as on their covers. 

Tomorrow I'm planning to join a sketching group at the botanic gardens.  I have so few pages left in my homemade book that I think I'll take it so that I can begin a new book sooner!  Happy weekend, friends!