Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sketchbook Project Exhibition

I have questions about the exhibition of the Sketchbook Project, such as why is it on display for such a short time in most places? There's plenty of time in between some of the venues so why not send it to other cities around the country? Is it because no one has stepped up to the plate and volunteered to find a venue elsewhere? Are the expenses of mounting an exhibit too high for a gallery to assume for a show that’s set up for only a few days and won’t make them any money? Is it simply that the overwhelming numbers of participants put a heavier load on the Museum’s staff than they can bear?

Most art galleries plan their shows 1 to 3 years in advance with only a few days in between for take-down and hanging. And most art galleries are profit-generating businesses and would gain little from hosting a show of sketchbooks, no matter how interesting it might be to the public.

10,00 Returned
 Marge says 10,000 filled sketchbooks were returned. That's a good percentage for a project like this. There are good reasons why 18,000 were not returned. I suspect some of the participants never got started. Some filled a book and couldn’t bear to give it away. Maybe some thought their work wasn’t good enough to show.

Journals and Sketchbooks
Years ago I visited a local gallery show of artists sketchbooks and journals, probably the most interesting art show I’ve ever attended. There were hundreds of books in one small room, all available to handle and read. The books were of all kinds and sizes and with different focuses, some handmade, some purchased, and each one wonderful in it’s own way. I joined lots of other people sitting on the floor, wearing a pair of white gloves, and devouring one book after another. I learned a lot about what an artist’s book can be and that the sky’s the limit.

Keeping a Studio Record Book
 Some of my studio books on top of single pages 
For an artist, keeping a record book of some kind is almost a necessity. It can be a book of sketches from a life drawing class, a book that houses records of completed artwork, a studio workbook with a mixture of drawings, palette color swatches, written ideas, mind maps, lists, gallery cards of others’ works, workshop notes, lesson plans, diary entries of a personal nature, or the results of a daily drawing practice… whatever the artist needs it to be.
I’ve kept studio books for many years but rarely did I completely fill one. Hmmm. Perhaps this is a worthwhile subject for another day if you’re interested. Tell me what you want to know and I'll write about it if I have any help to offer you.


  1. If you go to Seattle to see the collection, let me know!

  2. Tell us more about your sketchbooks! They are amazing! You have so much to share. I loved seeing them in your studio !! Do go for it!!!!

  3. Jo, this is good advice for artists to keep a journal/sketchbook. I have not taken this advice myself, and as a result I have snippets of paper with notes and sketches and ideas all over the studio and my office desk! I think I'll take your advice and get myself a book. I had one in college that is fun to go back and look into sometimes, lots of notes on art that I was seeing in museums of London and Europe. Time to get organized, thanks for the push!!


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