Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Samantha Russo -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Samantha Russo. Here's Samantha's story:


My name is Samantha Russo and I am a mixed media artist with a passion for working in bright colors, patterns and shapes.

Samantha Russo, mixed media art, sketchbook conversations

I began a regular sketchbook practice in the Summer of 2016 as I was inspired by Elle Luna’s #100dayproject on Instagram. I wanted to be disciplined about making art everyday, but since it was the summer and my kids were home from school, I really needed a very doable and yet fun way that I could still commit to my art practice. Working on a daily sketchbook practice consistently for a hundred days seemed like the perfect solution for me and it turned out to be an incredible learning experience.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Part of my motivation for starting a daily practice was my yearning to discover my own voice as an artist. I used to hear it all the time that the best way to find your voice as a painter is to start by making a hundred paintings. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

And so I went for it! I did have a lot of fear and resistance going into the project, but I was driven by my commitment to stick with it in spite of the voices of my inner critic that said otherwise. 

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Each day, I gathered my materials and tackled the blank sketchbook page. Over time my sessions with my sketchbook felt like having a conversation with an old friend. It was my time to play, experiment and discover what I loved and what my intuition wanted to say through color, pattern and imagery. I began with using simple craft paints and then slowly graduated to including other media such as pastels, ink and eventually collage.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The beauty of the sketchbook is that there are no rules. I don’t have to worry about what other people are going to think or if anyone is going to want to buy it. It’s my personal space where I can be the artist I want to be unconditionally. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I think that, for myself at least, it is a pure form of artistic expression because inside the pages of a sketchbook, we get to see the soul of the artist, imperfections and all. That is beautiful to me.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Today, my sketchbook practice is my main form of making art and it’s what I share primarily on my Instagram account. When I started this project last year, I thought that my sketchbook practice would lead to my creating more formal pieces of art. I thought of it as a means to an end. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Lately, however, I am starting to accept that my sketchbook pages are a final product in and of themselves. Recently, someone was introducing me to another artist by saying, “Do you know Sam? She’s the one who makes those sketchbook spreads on Instagram.” I was surprised and yet quickly realized that yes, it’s true. This is what I do. I paint in my sketchbook and that can be enough!

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I imagine that eventually, when it feels right, I will move from the pages of my sketchbook to tackling larger pieces. I would love, for instance, to do a mural some day. In the meantime, however, sketchbooking keeps me connected to the joy of creating and that is plenty. I am grateful that I have this means of tuning in to my inner world everyday in a way that is for my own enjoyment and growth.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Ultimately, I would love to be able to inspire others to embrace a personal practice for themselves. It doesn’t take much. I started with a notebook and some simple materials like craft paints, watercolors and my kids’ crayons. 



sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

To someone starting on this journey, I would say, remember that this practice doesn’t have to be for anyone else but yourself. If you choose to share with others, that is great, but it is not essential to the practice nor does it have to be the goal. Have fun with it and see what you can discover about yourself in doing this work. You may surprise yourself by what you find!

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry


Dear readers, you can connect with Samantha:
on Instagram @samantharussodesign
through her website and store
her 100 day project can be found on Instagram using the hashtag #100daysofsummersketches




Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's even easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews



*Photos in this post © Samantha Russo. Used with permission.

8 comments:

  1. LOVE Sam's sketchbooks and connecting on Instagram- always an inspiration

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Deb. They are very inspiring! :)

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  2. Helpful words and inspiring pages. I like the fact that you have decided that your sketchbook spreads are an end in themselves, Samantha, because they are truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing this, Anne. xo

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    1. Yes, Judy, I liked that thought as well. So many different ways of working. So much to learn and to be inspired by!

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  3. "The beauty of the sketchbook is that there are no rules. I don’t have to worry about what other people are going to think or if anyone is going to want to buy it. It’s my personal space where I can be the artist I want to be unconditionally."
    BINGO! I think Samantha may have (finally) convinced me to give it a try.
    Thank you Anne and Samantha

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  4. Samantha - you have an eye for great colour combinations and design! It is interesting to see your work is spread over two pages. I usually confine myself to just one! Thank you for the introduction to another sketchbook artist Anne. Each person has been so different in their approach to how they use their books. :)

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    1. You're so right, Simone. There are so many different ways of working. No right way. No wrong way. That's what I love about this series and that's what I hope to convey to my readers!

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