The Sketchbook and the Slow Burn
Over the years, my relationship with my sketchbooks has changed. We are kind of like long-term friends who eventually become lovers and spend their golden years having new adventures, living the good life they’d always wanted but couldn’t have because of life’s detours and obligations.
At first, I bounced ideas off my friend, the sketchbook: visual images, words, ideas for writing and painting and life. Sometimes, there were awkward periods of silence, not unlike in When Harry Met Sally . . . "It is so nice when you can sit with someone and not have to talk."
Occasionally, if I was at a lecture or in a class, the content of the class would make an appearance in my sketchbook for later discussion. I always wanted to toss the sketchbook aside when I included such digressions. They didn’t really seem to amount to much . . . except long-term friendship that, at once, frustrates and is as comfortable as an old shoe.
As we matured, my sketchbook and I, I began to see the deep and enduring beauty of our friendship. There was even a little heat there, and I longed for my sketchbook when I left it at home, even if we only went to the park on a family picnic—or on a drive that lasted more than 20 minutes. On vacations, my packing list included: 10 pairs of underwear and socks, toiletries, clean jeans and tees, my favorite sweatshirt and good shoes. My sketching supply list, on the other hand, included: sketchbook, extra paper, watercolor pencils, water brush, brushes, water cup, paper towel, regular towel, pencils, ball point pens, pigma pens, tape . . . . Funny how I packed more for my sketchbook than for me.
Today, as I sit in the garden with my sketchbook, we reflect on the spring that has past, the summer harvest and the possibilities of the new season that may include holiday musings. We dream together about trips when COVID-19 ends, but we won’t wait to take our adventures today. Walks. Still moments on the shore, while the kids splash in the river . . . .
My sketchbook and I have become the slow burn—the visual embers that will rise up into flames at times and then cool into that orange glow. And when one chapter in our life together is complete, there will be a new one—same sentiment continued with fresh, blank pages—and new possibilities on into those golden years. Perhaps fewer words. More pictures.
I’d invite you to find your old friend in your sketchbook, too. It’s never too late to rekindle that old love—or strong like. To dream together and invite new possibilities. To sit quietly when words elude us. And to find deep love in that intimate expression of the visual—if only to ourselves. Happy sketching!
PS. If you need help, getting started, I’m happy to serve as matchmaker between you and your sketchbook!