This week's Sketchbook Conversation is with Jaime Haney, an artist residing in the rural area of New Harmony, Indiana. She describes herself as "a mom, gardener and an artist who paints visual stories: a mix of fantasy added to fairly realistic stylings and sometimes abstract backgrounds".
Jaime is one of my early blogging friends and I'm delighted to have her here sharing her long history with sketchbooks:
I was introduced to sketchbooks as a child. I got my first one from my dad at the age of 14 for Christmas. I remember him telling me what I should do in them: always date my pages, always draw in my books or tape in drawings and anytime I had an idea to jot it down before it was gone.
My dad is an artist (still) and he always kept sketchbooks himself. Before I even had a sketchbook myself, I remember him showing me his drawings going back to his childhood.
To be honest, for me years sometimes go by without me sketching in my books. In all the years I’ve drawn in a sketchbook (31 years!) I only have 3.
My dad was committed to drawing in his constantly and I always kinda felt guilty about not being that way myself. I guess it didn’t bother me too much, because I never really picked up the daily habit. Now, I use it as a tool mostly for ideas for paintings or block prints.
For many years I worked as a graphic designer for an ad agency. I drew out ideas on lined paper or copy paper and never put them in my sketchbooks because I just never really thought about it as MY art - that was work stuff. After work, when I went home a busy life as a wife took over and my relaxing time was spent on the couch without a sketchbook. I felt all my creativity had been drained by the agency.
After my son was born, I decided to stay home with him. I remember the exact day while I was at my mom’s house visiting her that I drew again in my sketchbook. Asher was 2. I guess the urge had been stirring because I had started to carry my sketchbook again and had it in my diaper bag. My first sketch was of my son sitting on her living room floor. Then I drew a lamp, then a corner of a fancy table, crazy faces lips and cat eyes. It was bad, but the rusty wheels started to turn again. That was 2008.
Time went by and in in February of 2011 along with a friend I met through the blogging community, I started a traveling sketchbook with 11 other artists I named it “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sketchbooks”. We each bought a sketchbook and the idea was that once a month, we would create a spread in another’s sketchbook and then mail it on to the next person. So every month for just over a year we had a different sketchbook. We all posted about them on our various blogs. You can see my blog posts about them here. We even shared our pages through a dedicated page on Facebook. These were more polished and finished drawings and paintings, not sketches.
Except for when I first got my sketchbook and drew a few finished drawings that filled the page, I mostly considered a sketchbook for sketching. If I’m going to make a finished drawing then I might as well do it on paper that is easy to frame or package up. I can be very practical; it’s the Taurus in me.
In my sketchbooks I just use pencils usually, and pens. I especially like the Pilot Razor Point pens and the soft Faber Castell Design Ebony Graphic Design pencils. I keep Prisma Colors (colored pencils) handy if I want to add color. When I’m out and an idea hits me then anything is open game. I’ve used ball point pens on gum wrappers, receipts, napkins, even painted paper placemats with tea and a straw if I had something waiting to escape my mind. That’s when you tape it in with magic tape. That way the idea isn’t lost.
If you're just starting out I'd give you the same advice my dad gave me. Date every drawing or sketch. Use your sketchbook as much as possible. Anything that you do often, you’ll get better at. Tape in various drawings that you make outside of the sketchbook.
Don’t wear out that eraser. You’ll notice my pencil doesn’t even have an eraser. I usually don’t bother erasing anything. I draw over it until I get it right or I’ll make many sketches on the same page to try and get it right. To see your mistakes is good, you learn from those. The eye can usually tell right away if something is out of proportion or off. If you’re having a hard time, look at it in a mirror or upside down - then you’ll spot it right away.
Also, know that you don’t have to share your sketchbook with anyone but yourself. I’m usually self conscious when someone wants to look through mine. I do however enjoy going over my sketches from over the years… it shows how far I’ve come and sometimes it surprises me to look back and think wow that teenager me was actually pretty good!
Remember you don’t have to follow any rules. If you want to make perfect, finished drawings in each page then do so. If you only pick up your sketchbook when you’re feeling down or perhaps only when inspired, that is perfectly fine. YOU are the only gate keeper to your imagination.
Thank you, Jaime for sharing your sketchbooks and your story with us today.
You can find Jaime:
You can catch up on the other Sketchbook Conversations posts and find more sketchbook inspiration here.
And if you're an artist who works in sketchbooks and would like to be featured, please contact me and I'll send you the details.
*Photos in this post © Jaime Haney. Used with permission.