The Sketchbook

Last year, during a visit to New York, my buddy Dave gave me a beautifully leather bound sketchbook he’d bought in Italy but never used. Despite being exactly the kind of posh sketchbook that I’m normally too intimidated by to actually draw in (the watercolour paper is clearly of a higher quality than my timid scrawls are yet worthy of) I’ve been trying my best to fill it with sketches done from life, and ONLY from life, over this past year.

Once upon a time I used to draw from life, and quite often, but over the years I lost the habit and turned instead to drawing from only my imagination. I enjoy this kind of doodling very much and I believe that is where my heart will always be in regards to drawing. Consequently, I have piles of recent DOODLE books, but hardly any true SKETCH books. Though my imagination is constantly active and relatively strong, I’ve wondered recently if it has less “food” to nourish itself and truly grow (rather than merely chew on old imagery from within) if I never feed it with any new real-world observation. So I decided to use this leather-bound book to try and improve my observational drawing skills and I’ve been re-learning what l already knew; drawing what you actually see is surprisingly difficult.

This attempt at a monochrome watercolour was done sitting in the park at the Yerba Buena Center. I didn’t get as far with it as I wanted it before I had to leave (to see a movie) so I returned another day at the same time (and hence similar lighting) hoping to tighten it up a bit, but one of those downtown loons that you’ll only find the likes of in a San Francisco park was sitting in the exact spot I’d used earlier and having a conference call with Aliens. So I thought better of working any more on the picture. So it is what it is. Voila.

This ball-point, brush-pen and colour pencil scrawl was drawn while sitting on the kerb in front of St. Cecilia’s Church in the Sunset district. I am a life-long pedestrian and walk as much as I can, but lately I have been walking even more, traversing neighbourhoods I’ve never strolled through in the past. Taking a rest break is a good excuse to draw a little, but despite the pleasure it always brings, I still have to force myself to do it for some reason.

These pencil sketches of a grave-sculpture angel were done during a Halloween inspired trip to Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, a city largely comprised of cemeteries (17 in fact) meaning that dead people out number the living by a factor of thousands. The place is full of beautiful old sculptures, such as this one, and Julia and I plan to go back there again to do more drawing, perhaps even some more of this particular angel. I would like to do some more sketches in paint, as the coarse paper isn’t best suited to a detailed pencil drawing. Thus far, I have been timid about showing my drawings from this book but lately I realised that I should post them, come what may, to record my progress (if any at all). So be warned; I will be scanning and posting more in the near future.

9 thoughts on “The Sketchbook”

  1. Jamie, I love your drawings and I think a posh Italian sketchbook deserves the talent of your drawings…how happy this book must be!!!! Please keep sharing.

  2. I feel the same way about fancy sketchbooks Jamie. We got leather bound sketchbooks as crew gifts last year and I’ve never done anything with mine but these drawings are inspiring me to actually make a stand and use the sketchbook.


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