Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The need for ten sketchbooks...

Much to the relief of my family, who no longer have to listen to my rants, self-justifications, ponderings and despairing, I think I've cracked this whole stuckness thing.  Well, at least for now... 

I need ten sketchbooks!

To explain, I need to go back a bit.

One of the reasons I was stuck was a (self-imposed?) need to create some sort of impressive, artistic, professional-sounding "body of work".  I met a couple of textile artists (or "artistes") at the weekend and tried to talk sketchbooks and art and inspiration, but the Girl and I (she had to come too, with the promise of Hobbycraft later if she was good and polite) came away, escaped into the street, looked at each other and said "what?" 
We both concluded that there is an awful lot of  something rude out there about sketchbooks, and art and inspiration and Bodies of Work, and it is very easy for the Terrified to be Even More Terrified at just the language used.  Maybe that's the intention, to stop other people trying to be artists too, but that's what it's been achieving around here.

Until now!

I did a bit of brainstorming, trying to decide on a Theme to explore and drew about five huge mindmaps, and they all merged into each other as I don't want to leave anything out.  So then I looked at recurring themes, and wrote a list.  And then I tried to distill the list, but it still stayed quite big.  So then I decided

I need 10 sketchbooks.  One for each thing.  I don't have to choose.

(1) Colour
(2) Seashore
(3) Trees and branches
(4) Leaves and seeds
(5) Landscape and place
(6) Circles
(7) Pattern and symbols
(8) Birds
(9) Hounds
(10) Home

And already it's as if a great weight has been lifted. 

If I want to draw leaves all the time, that's just fine - they can go in the leaf sketchbook

If I want to start playing with maps and pictures of hillsides, that's great - landscape and place is the place for them.  If I have a burning desire to play with circles, hooray for the circles book!

And if I want to play with patterns and spirals into the pattern book you go

(except no you don't Mr Pink Squiggles, because you are a teaching sample for whip stitch and feather stitch...)

What a relief.  I can just do what I want to, without worrying about not settling on a Theme - everything I am interested in has a place to be, and hopefully over time the 10 sketchbooks will altogether add up to a HUGE Body of Work.

Miraculously, doing the mindmaps answered one other massive question, one I've wrestled with for years - what is my message, what am I trying to say? 

I want to say:


In art-speak, you could say my work is "a response to the ugliness, cynicism, superficiality and transience of the modern world, celebrating the power and permanence of nature".  But I prefer the short version.

Thank you for all the very kind and encouraging comments from my last post - and sorry if I was unable to reply to you - I can't work out Blogger sometimes...


  1. What a briliant idea - I have struggled for years wanting to find my 'theme' - if you don't mind I might set up several sketchbooks too - maybe not 10 but at least a couple to start my favourite topics!! thanks for sharing!

  2. Mind maps are great for trying to clear ones head. Good luck with your ten volumes of art works. I love the top photograph of the leaf and flowers.

  3. I have already got several sketchbooks on the go. I love sketchbooks and the process of research and exploration before committing to making something

  4. It's a minefield isn't it, that language? It's taken me years to learn it & then I realised simple is best, be yourself & say 'whaat?' loudly. If you can't laugh at it all....It's not a conspiracy, they just haven't realised yet that it's simple & are hiding behind big words, quaking!

    Lovely work, don't forget a 'samples' book & hope you will show us more, as & when. x

  5. A first class idea... to think I've been doing this for years and not realising it! Starting a couple of pages, getting fed up, starting a new book, getting fed up.... you get the idea!

  6. What a wonderful idea!

    One of my favorite books in the whole world, Refuse to Choose, suggests keeping 10 or 20 huge binders for all of our big projects, which reminds me a lot of what you're doing. Apparently, this technique is a huge hit with the author's clients! So I'll probably end up doing something similar, too. :)

  7. Oh this blog did make me laugh, i can relate totally and am with you all the way xxx


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