A little more than a year ago, I met Susan Brooks and visited her studio/gallery in the Sawtooth Building. I showed you photographs of her prints, jewelry, and small figures that she calls her “objects of desire and mirth” We saw a prolific artist. Here is her website and here is her Facebook page.
When she posted some sketches on her Facebook page, I had a thought. Sketchbooks. Why not from time to time go explore artist sketchbooks and share some here? John Seabury and Jon Balderston immediately come to mind, as will others. Let’s try this out and see where and how it goes.
Shown above are the sketchbooks that Brooks has filled in the last six years. She made her first sketchbook as a child. “I love pencils, pens, and paper. I like everything about drawing.”
Here Brooks shows us some of her pencils.
The Magic Multiplying Pencil sprung from an advertising give-away in the 1940s. It performs simple multiplication for those who can’t memorize the multiplication table.
Her notebooks generally stay at home. Brooks sketches All The Time.
Oh. My. Remember – this is a statistically insignificant sample of her sketchbooks. Oh. My.
After our visit, she found some sketches for her Objects of Desire and Mirth series. She sent me these photos:
Holy mackerel these are great
Brooks explains several tendencies. “I write on many of the drawings. I write down things that people say and I run-on from word to word, not separated by spaces. This requires some effort of the reader, which is the idea.”
She identifies several recurring themes in her drawings. The first is procrastination, although this seems something like infinite regress to me – drawing to avoid drawing.
The second theme is the death of her sister Kathe Kaufmann in September 2016. Brooks channeled her grief into a project – making small figurines as part of an undertaking she calls “Objects of Desire & Mirth.” She also expresses her grief directly in her sketches.
The lovely, orderly little notebooks are not the only homes for sketches. There is always the good old reliable yellow pad.
As mottos or mission statements go, “Draw on Everything” is spot-on.
There is another larger book that Brooks started on 9/11.
And there are little loose sketches, some with a little color.
Brooks told me about several sketchbook projects.
First is an online/digital museum, the Sketchbook Project. You connect your book to an account online. You tag it with analog details. And it joins the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library. As of this writing, there are 44,596 sketchbooks in their collection.
Closer to home is a sketchbook workshop at the Richmond Art Center. They say: “Spend three hours in this fun workshop learning to construct your own petite drawing book. We will begin with two warms ups to get acquainted with folding, creasing, punching and simple sewing. Following this, we will work together to group and crease our signatures, learn the correct way to cover and line your book boards, use a tabletop letterpress to imprint our cover, and finally punch and securely sew our pages. You will leave with three book structures and the confidence to learn more complex structures. No book making or print making experience is needed.The entire project is broken down in to easy to follow steps, and your imprinted cover design has already been prepared and set up for you. There will be two designs to choose from. Designs TBD shortly before the start of class. Teens 16 and over welcome. Materials fee: $15.”
I showed my friend the draft post and asked for his input. Before answering he showed me a picture he had taken.
“I have a couple other photos but there are words that offend pious eyes. I think you should track this guy down and talk to him.”
I said I’d talk to him if I saw the camper parked somewhere but that I wasn’t gonna go crazy trying to find him. He said that was okay.
What about the post and its exploration of the creative process?