Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The mighty sketchbook

Every artist understands the importance of having a sketchbook.  It is important to carry around for moments of immediate inspirations, and to draw the world around you.  To become a better artist, one must be able to draw their immediate surroundings. I love to fill pages in my sketchbook with doodles.  It's like doing yoga for your brain.  You concentrate on the line and let go of every other thought.  Soon you are drawing in a zen-like trance lost in the lines. 

But, as a high school art teacher, I know that my understanding of the importance of sketchbooks is not necessarily understood by my students.  Students who have an interest in drawing and painting love the sketchbook.  Students who have an open mind about drawing and painting, but feel they can't do either get excited at having one, but use it for tagging, or passing notes, or hardly use it.  Students who have no interest in drawing and painting have no interest in using a sketchbook.  They just want to have one because everyone else has one. 

My biggest problem is finding a sketchbook that is the right size for my students.  In the past, I've ordered sketchbooks with 100 pages and end up using only 30 pages.  I've also ordered sketchbooks with 30 pages and end up needing more pages.  It is very difficult to predict how much the sketchbook will be used during the school year.  Then, there is the financial side of the sketchbook. They eat up a huge chunk of my budget, so I've made the decision to not buy them for this year.  A very risky move.

As a department, we have discussed for a few years about making sketchbooks.  The conversation became more and more serious until last year when we finally made the decision to make it a class assignment.  So, as a way to welcome our newest teacher to our group, and figure out what technique is going to work best for us, we had a artist play date. We sat in my parents' backyard in the shade and began practicing our construction of sketchbooks.

I used cardboard pieces for the cover.  I wanted to play with melting crayons as a possible decoration of the cover.  I, also, thought it would be great to use fabric, or old shirts for the cover.  For the paper, I used xerox paper to make the signatures (stacks of 8 sheets of paper folded in half). In one, I used string to attach the signatures to the cardboard.  For the other, I used pipe cleaners to bind everything.  

They were a lot of fun to make.  I'm hoping that by making the sketchbooks my students will develop a new appreciation for them.  Perhaps, inspiring those who fear drawing and painting to jump in and draw.

 I enjoyed making the sketchbooks so much that I decided to make another one last night.  This could possibly become a new obsession of mine.  My favorite part is using fabric, cardboard, crayons, yarn, and random things I can find in my apartment. 

I'm looking forward to the school year starting so I can make these with my students.  I can only hope my students will love making them and want to use them as much as I do!

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