For pages 8-9, I introduce the character of the Mystical Dog King who holds in his hands, the potential of a green crayon. This is because I have found the topic of “It’s not easy being green” to be quite not-easy, and found free associating much easier. First, the dog character is something I came up with in the mid-nineties during colored pencil projects. He just popped up and said “Green is not easy, but I’m easy”. So I started there. The green crayon makes a cameo from page one…because it was easy. Mystery you say? A crown and some clouds with curtains. Yep. Mystery.
For pages 4-7, I decided I was going to compare and contrast graphite with charcoal. I’ve done a lot of graphite work over the years but never got a grasp of how to use charcoal in a way that approximated my graphite results. I’ve always wanted to sit down and do a piece in both mediums – one familiar and one not – and see what happened. The results are surprising!
Well I thought I had 45 days but now I have about 75 days! Looks like interest in the project was so overwhelming they had to extend in invitation and completion deadlines.
From an email I just got:
As the signup deadline started to approach and people started to receive their sketchbooks in the mail, we started getting two big requests: to let more people sign up and to give everyone more time to complete their sketchbooks. We’ve figured out a way to do some shuffling and have moved the first exhibition on The Sketchbook Project tour from December to January 29th. This will give everyone an entire month longer to complete their sketchbooks, moving the postmark date that they need to be sent in to us to January 4th.
Revised list of dates:
- November 1st – Date to sign up for the project (you did this already!)
- January 4th – Postmark date you need to send your sketchbook out by (keep in mind that the show is a couple weeks after that, so if shipping internationally, make sure they definitely get to us by then!)
- January 29th – The first show of the tour at Art House Gallery in Atlanta, GA
If you have an extra pencil and some spare time over the next 2 months, give it a spin! It cost a few bucks to join but it will be great fun working on artwork everyday. It’s a great discipline opportunity to blow some dust off of your creative window sills, and let some fresh ideas in.
Read more about the sketchbook project.
Art House Co-Op has started The Sketchbook Project: Library. Everyone who signs up gets a Moleskine sketch book to fill up any way they’d like. However, each Moleskine is barcoded and themed. I got mine yesterday, with the theme of “It’s not easy being green”. I immediately misunder-read this as “It ain’t easy being green.” So, my first sketch is wrong. But my second sketch makes good the bad with its own piece of art.
The entire project has to be completed and back to Art House Co-Op by December 1, 2009. From there, it will be on tour across the country with all the other completed sketchbooks.
As soon as I could hold pencil, I was drawing. I drew through grade school where I spent time out of boring classes and instead got to decorate the hall bulletin boards. I drew through high school and three years of art studio time every day. I drew before I painted, then painted over what I drew. I drew before I sculpted, then sculpted what I drew. Then I went to art school where I drew some more. I studied graphic design where the first thing we did was…draw. Then we painted in black and white on top of our…drawings. Then I did printmaking where I…drew…such classic printing methods as stone lithography and entaglio. I even did linoleum print making where I took wood carving tools and cut out what I had just finished…drawing. I had a sketch book I carried (and still carry) with me everywhere. At lunch I drew.
Then one day…
I got Pagemaker on PC back in 1992. I made a box on the screen and was smitten. Look at that straight line! Wow! I stopped drawing completely. I was so smart! Why mess with stupid lead and erasers? I got into web design. Why mess with paint and pen and ink to pay the bills? Drawing was for fine art, which I continued to do. Then print and web design got hard. And harder. It was not so fun even though I had, by the late nineties, multiple undo’s and dozens of versions of projects saved with names like “brochure_v74_alternative_FINAL-03b.ai”. What was I missing? I have a pen tool, even a pencil tool. I have an eraser tool. I have delete and a hi-res mouse. What was wrong?
And then one day…
I got my sketchbooks back out. Thumbnails all around for all print layouts and web layouts. Sketches for all my freelance design clients. Sketches for everything FIRST and foremost. Good ol’ NO.2 and a Pink Pearl or kneaded wonder. My graphic design skills got better the more I drew and hesitated to get on the computer.
And so today…
After 20 years, I draw more than ever. I draw every day at lunch. I draw in my sketchbook. I draw in my business meeting notebook. I draw on whiteboards in meetings with programmers who give me quizzical looks. The marketing team likes when I draw, as they are visual thinkers too.
Don’t fool yourself! Thousands of years of cultural development of art, graphic design, typography and media have not changed one simple fact – drawing is the foundation of all graphic design and art. The Flemish master painters from the Renaissance handed us the seven layer method of painting, of which the first three steps are essentially drawing with lead and ink, and that several layers of colorless paint before color is introduced. They solved all the problems of design, composition and layout well before a single pigment was a figment in their imagination. Is graphic design any different? I don’t think so!
If you want to be a more impressive freelance graphic designer, if you want to turn work around faster and with greater grace and speed, if you want to converse fluently with your artistic muse and drink deeply from that fountain of inspiration, pick up a pencil and sketchbook, and draw it out before you think of hitting Command-N in Illustrator or Fireworks or InDesign or Photoshop. Get your layout worked out. Get your grid lined up. Get your whitespace flow spaced out. Rough out some typography. Erase, start over, work it on paper. Flip the page. Work fast and then slow down when something coagulates. When you have the elements all worked out, you may proceed to the application of your choice, with your trusty pencil and notebook telling you what to do next…
Don’t start your next freelance graphic design job until you’ve discussed it with your NO.2 pencil and notebook. They offer the counsel you need for a successful project.