a library of sketchbooks

By Amy Hackworth.

As an earnest high school art student, I labored over projects that had considerably more heart than skill. At the time, I couldn’t fathom that great artists regularly parted with their beloved projects anymore than I could imagine parting with my firstborn child. I was shocked and saddened to realize that artists made a living by selling their work. They created something beautiful, some piece of themselves, and then (hopefully) sold it. To strangers, even.

Thankfully, artists do sell and share their work regularly, and we are all the better when their concepts and ideas have a home in the world. But gallery space can be hard to come by, which is part of the reason the Sketchbook Project exists. It’s an interactive, crowd-sourced community art project where everyone is welcome. (Over 26,000 folks have participated so far!)

You sign up to receive a sketchbook, choose a theme to loosely follow, and then fill your book with your own personal brand of brilliance. I love the Sketchbook Project because its supports the notion that we all have something worth saying through art. You can fill a sketchbook with sketches (of course), or painting, drawing, collage, photographs, photocopies, phototransfers, stencils, or tracings. Wouldn’t a collaborative family sketchbook be a fantastic summer project with kids?

And unlike my carefully guarded high school art projects, this prized possession is meant to be shared with the world. Once your sketchbook is full, you send it to its permanent home at Brooklyn Art Library where it will be cataloged and shelved, but not before it travels the country in the Sketchbook Project’s Mobile Library (check out the tour here). You can even have it digitized so it can be viewed online.

Would creating (and parting with) a sketchbook be a breeze for you? Or a perfect summer challenge? I think I’d feel more motivated if I knew my project was off to a fancy mobile library. Would you?

P.S. I just picked up a couple of art books for our kids at a museum sale. I can’t wait to dive into this drawing book with our boys and try out some of the printing projects in this one. Do you have favorite art/activity books that have inspired you or your little ones?