About a year ago I read about a wonderful art project on Hanna’s blog. The Sketchbook Project is run by Art House Co-op. For a small fee you receive a sketchbook to fill any way you want to – they don’t even make you sketch! When you’re done, hopefully before the January deadline, you send it back and it’s entered into the catalog at the Brooklyn Art Library.
Yes, you read that right – you get a barcode and a place on the shelf in a real library. Except this library is full of art! And along with your book you get a library card so you can check out art too.
And that’s just Space and I did the other day when the Sketchbook Project Tour was in Seattle! We could check out 2 books at a time from a single theme, and search by name, hometown or keyword. Stacy got our books from the “a day in the life” theme, and I got Hanna’s “grids and lines” book, along with another random selection.
The gallery, Form/Space Atelier in Belltown, was a very strange venue. In fact I can’t think of any space having a worse layout for an event like this. There were several lines crammed into a narrow space for getting a card, checking out, waiting for your books to be delivered and returning books. Hardly anyone got grumpy though. Everyone was happy to be checking out Art. Half of the space was taken up by the shelves of books, upstairs and downstairs, and there was almost no space for people to sit down and look at the books. We ducked under a barrier to find a space on the stairs.
We poured through our books. It was so much fun to look at Hanna’s work (even though, as I said in my last post, we have never met her and she doesn’t know we exist!) Then I took a self portrait photo of us holding our own books open to our own self portrait pages (very meta…)
We spent almost 3 hours at the gallery, mostly just outside the door, where there was more air, space and light, and we looked at about 20 books between the two of us, plus browsing a few just-returned books on the check-in table while we waited. Some books spoke to us, some, not so much. I enjoyed my two random books from “dirigibles and submersibles” – both people were real artists – people who could draw! And they had a consistent vision/style throughout the books (but neither one was finished). We also found a wonderful book, chosen by a women in line behind us, with extremely intricate hand-drawn designs. The “mystery maps” books were also excellent – one had simple abstract maps with hidden lift-the-flap labels. I loved it!
We haven’t decided for certain whether to do the project again next year. It won’t be visiting Seattle. And neither of us is really into sketching/drawing. But I came to the conclusion that a narrow, very specific, theme might actually be easier and more interesting than the vague “a day in the life.” (limits are good: that’s a life lesson)
If I had chosen to complete the entire sketchbook in one day, or drawn features of my typical day on every page, maybe my theme would have been specific enough. That’s what I had planned to do. But I lost my nerve! (that’s another life lesson: be bold! what’s the worst that can happen?)
The Sketchbook Project is recruiting now for 2012. The themes are online now, and the sketchbook itself is much improved over last year with sturdier paper, which will make a big difference. The project is open to anyone, Artist or not, from anywhere in the world. The tour is going international this year too.
To sign up for the project: linky
To see digitized sketchbooks from 2010: linky (note: some themes haven’t been done yet – specifically, every book I mentioned in this post is not yet available online!!)
Update: I’m thinking about a theme I think might work – Forks and Spoons. It’s very specific. And I have a few thoughts as to how I could approach it… I’ll let you know if I decide to do it.