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Art Journal Every Day: The Sketchbook Project

ArtJournalEveryDayLogo-150If you're new to Art Journal Every Day, all the posts can be found here.  Please read this post first.  There is a flickr group for sharing right here.  Remember, it's just ten minutes of nourishing your creative self every day!  No need to finish anything or even like it.  If you've done some art journaling this week and you've blogged about it, or put it on flickr, please leave a link in the linky list at the end of this post.  Thanks!

You may recall a post from me many months ago called "Letter Ladies" where I shared my reluctant contribution to the Sketchbook Project.  Today we have an enthusiastic guest post from Lenna Young Andrews all about that super popular Sketchbook Project.  I'll let her take it from here!

A big hello from Lenna!  

I am honored to be writing a guest post on Julie Balzer’s blog for Art Journal Every Day. I am a big fan of Julie’s. When I read her blog posts I’m always so inspired and often blown away by her ideas. When she asked me if I would be interested in writing about my experience with The Sketchbook Project, I said -- Yes!! Let me start by telling you a little bit about the Sketchbook Project.

LennaAndrews 01
This project is a traveling library of artists' books, created by thousands of people from across the globe. It is hosted by Art House, an independent NY-based company that organizes global, collaborative art projects. Art House is a world-wide community of artists all brought together by the Art House Co-op website, but they also have a brick & mortar gallery space in Brooklyn, NY. Below, is a short video peek into the Brooklyn Art Library, home to the Sketchbook Project.

I signed up for my first Sketchbook project in July of 2010. I’ve completed three now and already registered for a fourth due in January 2013. My first experience was the 2011 project - due at Art House no later than January 15, 2011. At the time, I did not have a lot of experience with art journaling. I found out about the Sketchbook Project through one of my art swap participants - Sharon Walworth, who sent me a link with a note saying, “This might be something that would interest you”. . . she was right! The idea of a huge, worldwide collaborative journal project really appealed to me, even with my limited art journaling experience. I signed up!

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To sign up for a Sketchbook project you need to go online to their website, fill out the registration form, pay the required fee and choose a theme. After you do this, Art House will send you a specially designed sketchbook (sized 5”w x 7”h) containing 32 pages. It was created just for this project. There’s a label with a barcode on the back cover of each and every sketchbook. It includes your name and your chosen theme in order to identify your book and so people can check your sketchbook out. You fill the book up and return it to Art House by the deadline. Then, your sketchbook will go “on tour” with all the other books in the project –sometimes as many as 10,000 sketchbooks! Important: When the tour is complete, your book will not be returned to you. Instead, it will be permanently exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Library where it can be checked out and admired by anyone at any time. Imagine . . . . here is a peek at the Brooklyn Art Library, filled with shelves of completed sketchbooks:

LennaAndrews 03(photo courtesy of Art House Co-op)

LennaAndrews 04(photo courtesy of Art House Co-op)

For the 2011 project I simply jumped in and started working in my sketchbook.  The theme I chose was: “This is not a Sketchbook” - which I thought would distinguish me from the participants that were actually sketching in their journals! I did not really know what I was doing but did not let that stop me. I painted and collaged and wrote things in my book, then shared the process on my blog. This first sketchbook was larger (5.5” x 8.5”) with thinner pages that I glued together for strength like I was working in an altered book. Below is a spread from my 2011 sketchbook where I used a favorite old photo of me above a copy of an old ID card I had. On the right side, I placed leftover paper from trying a spectra tissue technique into the sketchbook and I added circles to both sides to join them together. Then, I added journaling and a line of faux stitching. I was deliberately trying to put myself into this sketchbook through my photos, journaling and my art. I have counted at least 10 photos of me inserted throughout my 2011 sketchbook.

LennaAndrews 05
LennaAndrews 05
Another favorite spread including a baby photo of me is below. It was done with an old calendar page that hung on the wall of my childhood home and somehow had been saved all this time. It is the December calendar page, my mother’s birth month. The photos I used for this spread were printed on a clear transparency sheet in order to better see the calendar underneath.

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I also used the sketchbook to try out new techniques, like a ripped paper and fabric background:

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This ripped paper background was a great base for another photo of me with my 2 young sons in the 1980’s in Connecticut. This photo was printed on vellum. A photo I took of a local street in Florida was printed onto watercolor paper with my ink jet printer. I used my water brush to migrate the printer inks. I had lived in Florida for less than a year at the time and was adjusting to my new home base.

For the 2011 project = 10,000 sketchbooks were returned to Art House from 94 countries by the deadline. Over 28,000 people registered! View all of my posts about the 2011 Sketchbook Project here.

*After finishing the 2011 project, I found Julie Balzer’s blog and her Art Journal Every Day. I was so excited to find more info and techniques related to art journaling after doing the Sketchbook Project and subsequently participated in AJED on a daily basis from May 1 to August 30, 2011. I was amazed at how much Julie shared and how inspired and prolific I was because of this. You can take a peek into my four month long journey doing Art Journal Every Day as well as view all three of my Sketchbook project journals in this collection on my flickr account. One of the benefits of doing my Art Journal Every day journals besides being more prolific is - I get to keep them! I pick them up from time to time, look at them and smile.

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The 2012 project
had odd timing for me, but it actually saved me in the end. My husband and I moved to Florida from Connecticut in 2009 because my father, who was living in Florida had cancer. We wanted to be near him and my mom. I received my sketchbook in August of 2011, but did not start working on it until November because my dad was quite ill and passed away on October 1, 2011. I credit the commitment I made to participating in the Sketchbook Project to bringing me around to my creative mixed media art again after my dad’s death. I was especially motivated by an idea I had of re-binding the Sketchbook and doing something different from the normal pages I did for the 2011 project. And so, I did just that. I took the pages out of the cover, put two pages together to create a folding panel and re-assembled the sketchbook by re-binding it.

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LennaAndrews 10
LennaAndrews 10
I think you can best see how my 2012 sketchbook was re-designed by watching this short video I made to show viewers how the pages extend.

For the 2012 sketchbook project = 7,502 sketchbooks came in from around the world and they are now all on tour, from April – November, 2012. This tour of sketchbooks is also going to the UK and Australia!

View all of my posts about the 2012 Sketchbook Project here.

The Sketchbook Project Limited Edition Vol. 1 -
due April 30, 2012, this project was a little different from the other two projects I participated in. Registration was limited to 5,000 artists from around the world. One spread from each of these artists’ sketchbooks will be chosen to be published in a series of art books published by Art House. I really had fun with this project and from start to finish it only took me 10 days to complete -- wow! I had the time to devote to it and was inspired by an idea I got when I started working on the cover. The theme I chose was “create and capture”.  In the past year I have really stepped up my photo taking as a creative experience. So I got the idea to use some of my favorite photos in the sketchbook with a window on the page before it peeking in, to view just a bit of the photo. 

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LennaAndrews 13
LennaAndrews 13
View all of my posts about the Limited Edition Sketchbook here.

To sum up my experiences, what I can say wholeheartedly about the Art House Co-op projects and the Sketchbook projects in particular is that they give me a reason, a structure, a purpose and more of a desire to create. I enjoy being part of these large world-wide collaborative art projects and registering and paying for the Art House’s organizational efforts pushed me to follow through and do it! The projects are all very well organized, quite massive in scope and the heart of the matter is the organizers want to see more people – not just “artists” – participating and enjoying. Right On!

Below are excerpts from a question and answer post I wrote on my creative lenna blog - August 8, 2010

I’ve had questions in regards to The Sketchbook Project, mostly from those of you who are considering signing up and participating in this project yourself. I’ll share both the questions I have received via email and my answers here – just in case you are wondering the same things!

"Do you think you’ll be okay with “letting it go” next year, when it’s chock-full of all your wonderful stuff?  Or is the possible regret of giving it up outweighed by the idea that it will be “out there” to be shared with others?" 

I replied: I am already okay with letting the sketchbook go. It is a weird thing, but I would guess because I make a lot of art, I don’t want to or can’t keep as much art as I make. Because I can scan or photograph my art to remind me of what I have done, I really don’t need to physically keep it. I am actually happy to be sharing my art and then sending it off as part of this huge collaborative. I will have no regrets! I think it is the most amazing thing and I can’t believe they have over 10,000 participants. I did opt for the digitized sketchbook and I do like that I can receive comments via the bar code when people check my book out. But my basic idea is that I am going to put myself and my art into this sketchbook and send it out into the world on purpose, to share myself and my art with the world --or with whomever thinks my sketchbook looks interesting!

"I am curious though, can you do pretty much any art form in your book, excluding the items listed in the rules, or is it geared towards sketching, painting, etc. (mostly flat medium)?" 

I replied: Yes! You can do pretty much any form of art in the sketchbook; it does not have to be sketching. The best information is here: - then scroll down to the bottom for the FAQs/rules. As I understand it, your book must remain within the dimensions of 5.5 x 8.5 inches (it has now changed size now to 5”x7”). It may open up to something wonderful of any size, but it must fold down to the original width & height dimensions. You are welcome to unbind, rebind or alter the book in almost any other way –but it should end up being no thicker than 1” or they cannot take it on tour. If you want to use thicker stock of paper, they say go for it. I don’t believe it has to stay flat as long as it folds down to the same size, height & width. I am very excited to be part of this amazing project!

"How many double page layouts are there in the book?"

I replied:  Well, I have done 5 or 6 double page spreads so far, but in most of the cases I glued two pages together because the paper in this moleskin journal is very thin (it’s been re-designed and the paper is a bit thicker now).  I counted and there are about 30 single pages left which would really translate into 15 spreads or less, when gluing pages together, depending on how many pages you glued together. You have until January 15th to finish & mail your sketchbook. 

"How did you learn about this and have you ever done it before?"

I replied:  I learned about it from one of my swap participants, Sharon Walworth. She wrote to me and said she had found something that she thought I would like and gave me the link. She was absolutely right. I love this idea and I am having a great time doing it. I have never done the sketchbook project before and I have never kept an artist journal before!  

"What theme did you choose?"  

I replied:  I picked one of the themes the project offered, “This is not a sketchbook”. That was perfect for me and gives me a lot of options. They have a wide range of themes when you register. Hope to see you in the project if it appeals to you - or just enjoy the art and the project as the pages unfold!

Here's the linky list for you to leave a link to this week's art journaling:

Thanks for stopping by!

LennaAndrews 16lenna young andrews loves to dance, take photographs, throw paint around, collage, document her life, be creative, tweak her online sites and usually thinks to herself, what if I did this?”. She likes to collaborate, learn new things, dive in, rubber stamp, organize, teach, sew, host art swaps, share and inspire. She lives on the sunny gulf coast of Florida with her husband and 2 dogs. She takes Nia classes barefoot on the beach and considers herself extremely blessed. You can read more about her art and life on her blog: creative lenna.

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