The smaller the book the more likely you will pull it out and do a small quick random sketch. The larger the sketchbook the less likely you are to do this, and the more likely you are to only open it up when you are dedicating some time to doing a ‘proper’ sketch.
Although the large sketchbook would be great for doing journal-style pages with a combination of different sized images and text, it doesn’t seem to happen that way! This has become really obvious to me as I compare my old travel sketchbooks (portrait A5 as above) with the Moleskine A4 landscape (below).
When I am travelling I am much more focused on sketching than I am in my everyday life – I am truly sketching all the time. But I have found that I am less likely to take risks when I am using the larger book.
On a number of occasions in Singapore last year, the fact that I had to start a new double page spread if I wanted to sketch my dinner put me off attempting it – or I ended up doing big empty spreads like this one. There is nothing wrong with this, and a few spreads with lots of white space is very nice.
But I truly believe the huge expanse of the double page spread was a mental barrier to starting something small or quick, and that is what I want to overcome.
Another factor is the fact that I like to start everyday with a new spread (including my morning reading and a bold date heading), and each sketchbook has it’s own design for the way I want this to look.
In a larger book if I wanted to do a quick sketch at the end of the day and I had to start a new spread, I felt a little compelled by my own system to either fill a full spread or call it quits for the day. So maybe it is time to revisit this rule?
For this trip I want to try to get back to doing more spontaneous travel-journal style pages made up of little details, maps and silly notes, so last weekend I did some thinking and explored a few options.
What I decided is that a less structured approach to the way I start each day just might encourage more open compositions. Instead of it always starting on a new spread, a new day is marked by my usual morning reading and a date heading in a lined block that can be positioned anywhere on the page. It doesn’t always have to take up the whole of the left side of a double page spread.
I also want to really take risks with small quick sketches – throwing them on a page without worrying about it and then trusting to the text, maps, collage to pull the page together. It was interesting when I did the above experiment over the course of a day that I was a little worried about how it would turn out. So it was good to remind myself that this is ok and to trust that I will be able to finish off the page at some stage and pull it together.
And just for the record, I still intend to do full page or double page spread size sketches without text. It’s just that I want to return to these type of pages which I have really missed over the last few trips since I moved to the bigger book.
Some of you are probably thinking that I am a bit nutty to go to so much planning beforehand. Well, to get the results I want, I know from experience that I have to plan and design beforehand – my designed journal style pages don’t just magically happen!
I spend as much time with the design of the book as I do with the sketches and I like to be mentally prepared with a strategy, and well I think the secret to success with travel sketching is mainly mental – thinking about it and then just doing it!
So what you you think? Will this work?
Does anyone else have rules about how they use their sketchbook?
Do you ever create journal style pages with multiple images added through out the day?