Monday, October 26, 2009

Sketchbook Shelf

A while ago someone asked about where all the sketchbooks end up, and here it is. It's nice to have one shelf in the house where you can park them all in order.

That's one of the reasons I don't use spiral-bound sketchbooks: you can't write on the spine. With book-type bindings, you can write on the date and even number them. As you can see, every decade or so I switch favorite types of books. Now I'm in an experimental phase.

I'm not as prolific or industrious as it may appear--sometimes months go by with hardly a doodle. But a sketch here and a sketch there, and after a few years it adds up.

19 comments:

Zyphryus said...

Yes, thank you for posting this! I am obsessed with sketchbooks, and the idea of a sketchbook.

I work generally the same way - favorite sketchbooks, with a change every decade or so. I also find that I have a few sketchbooks that aren't in linear order with the others... ones I don't use as much, and don't carry with me constantly.

A while ago, I created a page dedicated to sketchbooks, and it needs to severely be updated, but there is an image of my books at the bottom, only add about 7 or 8 more books since.
http://lydiaburris.com/sketchbook.html

...
What is a sketchbook?

* Sketchbook * Journal * Collection * Notes * Experiments * Calendar * Diary * Forum * Rubbish Bin * Gallery * Questionaire * Documentary *

Drew said...

Hah, I used to hate spiral-bound notebooks because all I could find were soft-cover ones (which invariably always had their cover torn off at some point.) Once I found hardcover spiral sketchbooks, I fell in love. I like to keep a big 11 x 14 around the house for studies and all that, but for traveling, I've made myself a small book about the size of a moleskine, filled with a ream of bristol. Great little book, since the paper is versatile enough to try a bunch of different techniques, mediums, etc. in it.

E Colquhoun said...

Hi Jim,

"sometimes months go by with hardly a doodle"...it's nice to hear that you are human like the rest of us!

TJBookarts said...

Being a bookbinder, I'm intrigued by the leather spine books on your bottom shelf. Did you have them custom made? I make all kinds of bound books but now I like to work in a book that I can refill because it seems that just when the cover of a leather book gets nice and broken in it's full and I have to start a new one.

Steve said...

Great bookend you have for the sketchbooks, kind of an ongoing death awareness practice, a part of formal Buddhist training. Reminds me of the NYer cartoon of a few years ago. A guy is working at his desk as the Grim Reaper comes in the door. The man says, "Thank goodness you're here -- I can't accomplish anything unless I have a deadline."

I go back and forth on sketchbooks. I like how spiral bound fold back flat to one page. On the other hand, I like the spine for labeling on bound ones -- and bound ones tend to have better paper. I've made thin rectangular cards to slide in the spiral bindings for press-fit labels. That works if they sit on the shelf, but they eventually slide out with use.

i, me said...

what sketch books to you use..??

Rich Adams said...

This post leaves me curious just what brand(s) of sketchbook you're currently using? I have been tempted by book-bound books but really love working flat on my drawing table with my Canson Field Drawing book (getting harder to find).

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Excellent - love to years of process and inspiration neatly stacked like that. Hope you'll do some more posts on what's inside.

James Gurney said...

The ones on the top shelf are blue Pentalic Sketch Journals, and about 7 x 8 inches, and the bottom ones were from Jerry's Artarama (I forget the brand name), supposedly imported from Italy--and not too expensive. I think they were only about $15, which isn't too bad for a booklike leatherbound sketchbook. Lately I've been trying out the Moleskine, Derwent, and Pentalic books.

Zyphryus said...

My absolute favorite sketchbook is a brand in England called "Seawhite of Brighton" - they have a line of square sketchbooks that are very durable, made with fairly thick paper, all of which is sewn together rather than glued. I found them when I lived there for a year - Unfortunately they do not supply to the USA, and I'm running out of my stash. time for a change I guess!

Roberto said...

I prefer the bound notebooks, and I slip them into a leather book-cover to carry around, at least for the smaller sizes, and the end-flaps work really well for holding a pencil or two, along w an empty transparency-slide frame for view-finding, and a rolled-up kneaded eraser and a razor-blade. I have a small over-the-shoulder purse that I carry it in, (plain black, so it accessorizes nicely with casual pumps or heels and evening-wear), along w a small digital camera and other assorted markers, pens, and pencils.

The best spiral bound book I have found, by far, is the one printed on the dust-jacket of the best-darn drawing instruction manual I have ever read… “The Artists’ Guide to Sketching, a Handbood for Drawing on the Spot” by James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade. Highly recommended for beginners and old-faurts alike. I’ve been stalking the authors, trying to get them to re-publish it (it’s out of print, but available on ebay, etc.) but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. I’m looking forward to the ‘Imaginative-Painter-of-Color’s next book on color and light. -RQ

Michael Dooney said...

This sketchbook post made me wonder if you ever considered getting the rights and reprinting (real or pdf) that book about sketching that you did with Kincade back in the '80's. I have a lot of art books and I must say that I come back to that one again and again it is so much better than any other book on the subject that is in print these days. Folks that are following your pragmatic approach here would get great insights into sketching from that book.

Andrew Wales said...

They look great all together like that. I wonder, who did the skull belong to originally, and what did he do to have his head end up on your sketchbook shelf?

r8r said...

hm...

I'm opposite: I prefer the spiral-bound ones. After all, they'll lie flat, for sketching, painting, scanning...

The perfect-bound ones make me give part of my attention to the chore of just keeping them open, and adjusting to the vee between the pages.

As for titling them -- I don't. I just paste a page onto the inside-front cover, with the start and end dates.

Boy, they do stack up over time.

P.T. Waugh said...

Nice collection, James, but I think mine tops it. I've got around 30 sketch books going back to when I was 3 years old. I like to look at the really old ones for ideas.

Rachel Brenner said...

At school I fell in love with the Art Alternatives hardbound sketchbook- 8.5" x 11" with Microperf. holes, so I can either keep it in the book, fold and scan or tear the page out and give the drawing to a friend. It was the perfect compromise between hardbound and spiral bound. I also like a knock off of moleskins that has thicker water color paper for inking or watercolor quick sketch.

jere7my said...

What pen(s) do you use for the gold and silver lettering on the spines? I'm desperate for one, but I worry about durability — people keep telling me the ink will rub off. Clearly not an issue for yours....

Tyler J said...

Seems to me that you can remedy the problem of labeling a spiral bound book by writing the information on a sheet of paper length-wise, then rolling it up in a scroll fashion, also length-wise. Insert into spiral and enjoy!

JChevais said...

Whew. You reassure me in that your sketching has dry spells. I sometimes wonder for myself if I'm not being serious enough. Oof.