I love sketchbooks. What artist doesn’t? Also, like most artists that I know, I have more sketchbooks than I have time to fill them. Sure I have my main ink book sketchbook that I work in consistently but besides that I have a lot of others that I either hope to work in one day or that I’ve worked in now and again. Sometimes I buy sketchbooks just because they’re cool and sometimes people give me sketchbooks and they go on the pile. I never turn them down.

One of they types of sketchbooks that I like is the pocket sketchbook. The original one I got years ago is a Moleskine sketchbook . I heard a character on a TV show describe Moleskines as “The notebook for people with more money than sense” and I kind of agree with that. They’re on the expensive side. They’re really nicely made though. A small 3.5×5.5 inch hardcover sketchbook with nice creamy drawing paper in it goes for about fifteen bucks. That’s not cheap.

Since the success of Moleskine other companies have gotten into the act and have made cheaper versions of pocket sketchbooks. I have a few of these too. I have them at different shapes and sizes in hardcover and softcover. I’ve got a tiny 2×3 inch one that’s half an inch thick with paper. It’s tiny and big at the same time. I’ve never found a use for that one but I hold out hope. I’ve got a vertical 5.5×3.5 inch Moleskine that’s has some really nice watercolor paper in it. Not to mention a bigger 7×5 inch version of the same sketchbook. I don’t usually use watercolor so they sit unused.

I haven’t bought any new sketchbooks in a while (besides my once a year ink book sketchbooks) because I have six in the pile of unused sketchbooks right now. That’s a fair amount. I like them all but I don’t really need them at the moment. The main reason I don’t need them is that I’m not really one to go out and sketch things. A lot of artists who work in sketchbooks go out in the world, sit in the landscape (or cityscape), and sketch what they see in their sketchbooks. I don’t do that. I’m more of a studio artist. Though I have been drawing in the train station this month.

I’ve been commuting in to Manhattan to do some teaching so that means taking the train from Nanuet to Secaucus Junction and then into Penn Station from there. Since my class doesn’t start until 11 AM I’m not commuting during regular rush hour(s). I have few trains to chose from. Rather than cutting it close I go in a little bit early and wait at the Secaucus Junction Station for a bit. It’s much nicer than waiting at Penn Station. I pull out my ink book as I’m waiting and draw in it. But I’m not sketching from life. I’m drawing out of my head as if I was in my studio. One day I’ll have to try and draw the station but I haven’t yet.

My ink book is a spiral bound 5.5×8.5 inch sketchbook. That’s the type of book I’ve been using for about 19 years. I sometimes like to keep my sketchbooks for a single purpose so I started another one a couple of months ago that is just for superhero heads. I make comic book sketch covers with super hero heads on them and like to figure out how I’m going to draw them before I start the final drawing. So far I’ve only drawn three heads in it but I like the concept. If I want to draw a Spider-Man head I can use my sketchbook to figure out how and then use the book as a guide. Maybe I’ll fill it up someday.

Sketchbooks are on my mind because I pulled out an old one this week and was a little shocked that I hadn’t drawn in it for two and a half years. I dated the pages when I drew in it so I’m sure of when. Time flies.

I’ve long had the idea of a sketchbook as a piece of art. Normally my sketchbooks are what I’d call evidence of art. I start and work out ideas for art in them but they are not the finished art themselves. They’re a vital piece in the chain of making art but they’re not very mysterious or interesting. If you look at them you know exactly what they are. They’re the start of something. But what if they were the end? What if they were the art?

I think the idea for that comes form TV shows and movies where the characters find some mysterious notebook or sketchbook (even the mysterious notebooks almost always have drawings in them) that are filled with clues to some mystery the plot is trying to solve. The characters have to pour over and decipher what the book is saying. The book is the thing. It’s the end product with the answers to the mysteries being the art. I’ve always found that idea appealing.

According to the starting date of this sketchbook I bought it in May of 2011. The last page I drew on has a date of August of 2016. In those five years I only wrote and drew on 22 of the 80 pages. That’s front and back so it’s really 44 of the 160 pages but still that’s not a lot of the book.

The sketchbook even has a sort of theme to it. It’s called a “PresentationZen Storyboarding Sketchbook.” Some of the pages have squares on them to storyboard stuff, some have tiny spot drawings, and others have positive affirmations on them. I think the selling point was that the book was supposed to encourage ideas and creativity. I don’t know how well that worked for me.

Looking back at it I wrote and drew lots of ideas in the book. I even made stickers out of some of my photos and pasted them down on the pages at times. It may only be a quarter filled but it’s a pretty cool looking book. I don’t know how much good it really did me but that’s okay. I pulled it out this week because I’ve been trying to visualize some info graphics stuff and have been stuck on that. Maybe this past approach will help me in the present. Let’s hope so.