Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We See the Sketchbook Project

Jane and I ventured over to LynnArts to see the amazing Sketchbook Project. The subtitle is “an art project for everyone.” The amazing thing is that they have accomplished that goal. Walking in you’re greeted by the friendly staff and directed to sign up for a library card at a shiny computer. After you get your card you scan it and select the theme you’d like to see. After which point you mosey on over to the pick up station and librarians pass you your 2 books. Then you sit and peruse the books.

We arrived early and were among some of the first people signing up. After that we took in the vibe of the room, upbeat and cheery, though it was a blistering million degrees outside. In the center of the room was a reading table, a drop off table and then in one corner was the Tour Mail table. Myself, Jane and a group of kids sat around the table, read the sketchbooks and drew. Prismacolor kindly donated free markers to the tour and we were able to use them and to take one home. I’m glad I got there early, one kid spent his time smashing the tips on markers. Funny thing about the new Prismacolor brush tips, they survived his abuse well. I did my thing and sketched people and at one point I had a kid draw some fireworks on the shirt of the person. So if you’re from Toronto you can get a collaboration between myself and Sam.
I was able to look at 8 books while I was there and the selections were delightfully variant. One person was clearly an art journaler, another a sketcher, another book was done entirely in oils, and several were done by children. It was so interesting and so fun to be able to flip through the sketchbooks of a variety of people who are all so different in style and theme. I saw several from Australia, a few more from the US, one from Canada and several from Massachusetts. One from Massachusetts was filled entirely with block prints from elementary school kids.

Jane and I decided we had to sign  up and get our own sketchbook for the project.  We’ll be passing it back and forth until it’s filled. I’m already bursting at the scenes to fill it up. After I’d signed us up I was interviewed by Japanese TV for a piece on the project. I wasn’t the most eloquent I’ve ever been so most likely my star moment will be left on the cutting room floor but it was neat.
I found the whole thing artistically invigorating. The nature of the project is democratic, so long as you can afford the $25 fee for the sketchbook and the money to ship it back to them. Anyone can contribute. Some people don’t even write their name, email or website inside the book. In the end I had no way of tracking down the people whose art I perused while there. I really enjoyed the Tour Mail part of the experience. back when I was teaching I always wanted to spend time just drawing with the kids, but I was never able to because I also had to keep them under control. Those kids were pure creative energy.

Anyway, If you get a chance to see the Sketchbook Project in your area do it. As I suggested on twitter, do it even if you have to schedule a vacation around it. It’s very much worth it.

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