I have always loved the beautiful sketchbooks of other artists, but they have never been a regular thing for me. Mine are usually decades old and half full of loose composition ideas, shopping lists, reading notes, budgets, business ideas and the odd nice drawing of a landscape or portrait. But a proper visual diary of my thoughts, observations and inspirations? Nope, I’ve never had much luck with those. Maybe it is because my thought process is long, but I usually respond to circumstance through my paintings, rather than in bound books of daily sketches.
However there is something about the need to respond quickly to the realities of the Covid-19 crisis, that has me revisiting the sketchbook as a way to document and think through both the monumental shift in our daily lives, and the weaknesses in our social and economic systems that this crisis has exposed.
To create a painting in response to each question this crisis has raised would leave me behind the curve as each new thought, experience and piece of information displaces the last. A sketchbook seems much more responsive to the circumstance.
Considering a journal as opposed to a sketchbook; in this case, I prefer the ambivalence of images to the specificity of words. If I were arguing a position I would write an essay, or perhaps a manifesto. Words can be interpreted or misinterpreted, but it is difficult to hold two, or more, positions at the same time. I enjoy the plurality of the image, where I can simultaneously hold multiple and conflicting positions, turning them over in my head as I create and contemplate the visual analogies I am making.
Covid-19 has had an effect on my art practice in showing me the value of the sketchbook. I may decide to use a sketchbook format more often in the future when I want to digest a complex and quickly developing situation in a timely manner.
For now I will continue to document my thoughts in my Covid-19 Sketchbook. When this one is full I will do a sketchbook tour video (my very first, as you can guess based on my history with sketchbooks) and upload it to Youtube. Make sure to subscribe to my channel to catch that upload.