Dear Everyone ~
Emmy Kennett has worked with me a couple of days a week in the studio since 2016.
Even before she started working here, I had discovered her passion for sketchbooks.
She's a working artist, with a bachelor's degree in studio art
from Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
She has developed wonderful hand skills, and is also brilliant
at illustrating my workshop handouts and shop lists.
And, perhaps by osmosis, she knew when she was ready
to learn to make her own sketchbook.
Emmy and I have talked many times about her accumulating sketchbooks.
We wish there were an amusing or evocative collective noun for them.
Maybe it's a ... family! Here are several things I know about Emmy's sketchbooks,
that she is happy to share ... and that she hopes might encourage others
(yes, you!) to start your own sketchbook.
1 — Bought her first sketchbook in college, as an assignment for a printmaking class:
"It didn't matter what you put in it or how long you spent,
as long as you made some kind of mark every day and dated it.
I was instantly hooked —
and I still write the date on every page of my sketchbook."
2 — Has filled up 20 sketchbooks:
"Some are at my studio, some are at my parents' home,
and some are at my home. They aren't filed away,
partly because I am currently out of shelf space,
but also because I am constantly taking them out to look at,
as a reference when I'm doing some other project."
3 — Takes her sketchbook-in-progress pretty much everywhere:
"I keep it in my purse, and I can't go anywhere without it.
In fact, I usually have two going on at once. With all the constant shoving into bags,
and carting around, and tossing them across rooms,
and flipping through pages, and just general shuffling,
I'm surprised they are not more beat up than they are.
Actually, I also have a slightly thinner sketchbook with pink grid pages
that I cart around everywhere as well, and it's in terrible shape,
held together with a large butterfly clip and a huge gold paper clip."
4 — Swears by the freedom a sketchbook provides:
"Sometimes I wish that I had a bunch of 'stand alone' pieces
that are not stuck in my sketchbook. This issue is totally mental.
I know that I would never be able to make something
like what I put in my sketchbooks on a 'stand alone' piece.
When I have a single sheet of paper that is meant to be a complete work,
it would have to be all planned out first. I could never play around
like I can in my sketchbook. In there, it doesn't have to be a masterpiece.
I have a certain kind of freedom to just try something new and see if it works.
It doesn't always work. Sometimes I go too far, or it's nice but the colors are all wrong,
or it's just a hot mess. Even the ones that don't work are useful —
because there is almost always something that came out of it that I will use later."
5 — Still enjoys a splash of multimedia in her sketchbook:
"A lot of what I do now is only gouache, but my sketchbooks
used to be a lot more multimedia. For anything I didn't know how to draw,
or didn't care to draw, I would cut out of paper or something.
As I've become better at drawing and painting,
I have been using other things less. However, sometimes I just want to add something
that does not have my hand in it. I love the way its look contrasts with what I've drawn.
I especially love adding paper scraps in colors I would never think to use,
or patterns I could never draw. And sometimes you are just inspired by something
and you want to use and dissect it."
6 — Acknowledges the special something about a book you've made yourself:
"I had made a few books before I started working at Bari's.
I don't know why, but those first books still feel too precious to use.
I just started using one of them as a journal, but that was a hard decision.
And I've started using my first sketchbook I made at Bari's,
with hand-marbled paper covers. Really, the only difference between
my using an 'ordinary' sketchbook and the one I made
is that I like bragging that I made it.
I also like that every single bitty bit of this book is
an extension of myself and my artwork. That's nice!"
As an ardent sketchbook user myself,
I echo Emmy's perspective regarding creative freedom.
Drawing or painting or lettering or doodling in a sketchbook
allows your hand and your imagination to "think on paper"
in the most mysteriously liberating way.
Try it, you'll like it, Bari