In just a few days time the Sketchbook Project 2012 will have traveled back across the United States from Oakland, California to Lynn, Massachusetts for three glorious library days July 6-9. I was lucky that here in the Bay Area the tour stayed for over two weeks! My days have been extraordinarily busy the past two months and I really had to squeeze in my visit. I wished I could have gone every weekend and stayed entire days there but alas, it was not possible. Even so, I have a lot to share with you from my Sketchbook Project Tour experience. And it was great!
Once we found the tour location, hidden cleverly down a pretty alley and across a lot to the back of a handsome brick building, we were greeted with a huge Welcome sign, no lines to queue in, and a few seats left, but most of them full.
I didn't remember to bring my library card from last year, so the first thing I had to do was get a new card. That was easy - one simply picks a card from the bowl, enters one's name and such on the computer and scans the card to activate. I attended with two friends, and we each got a card so we could check out as many books as possible.
There were new rules this year: two sketchbooks can be checked out at a time, and only one of those books can be chosen by you. The other one you receive is a completely random selection. This is a drawback if you have a big list of friends' books that you'd like to see in a limited amount of time, but it's also a nice feature because it's a great way to discover new artworks and artists too. Once a request is made, the efficient and helpful Sketchbook Project Tour staff gather your two books for you in no time at all. While you're waiting, you can admire all the fab chalk art on the walls or goggle at the shelves and shelves of sketchbooks.
The first sketchbook I requested was Jeannine Saylor's Ask Me How I Can Help. She had done such a good job posting her progress while making the book that I was already familiar with the pages, but there's such a difference when actually holding the book and flipping through the pages. The art just leaps out, colors are brighter, textures are touchable and it's really cool to hold something made by a friend you only know from a distance.
As a Saylor Made fan, I am proud to say that I also checked out Jeannine's book that she made last year for the 2011 Sketchbook Project Tour. While I enjoyed both of them, I felt that she kept the theme really strong in this year's book and I really liked her use of stamps. One day I'll have to go to the Sketchbook Project Library in Brooklyn and see her Limited Edition book so I can follow the entire series. :)
At this point, my library-mates had also checked out some books so we started passing them around to each other. Usually the random book would match the theme of the chosen book, so when a friend checked out my Uncharted Waters, he received another Uncharted Waters to go with it. It was pretty neat to see how varied the interpretations could be upon the same theme.
The second book I requested was that of Jessica Gowling, whose fur cover and wildlife-inspired pages were irresistible. Especially since her black-furred book from last year went missing in the postal system on its way to the Sketchbook Project Library, I knew I didn't want to miss the chance to meet her white-furred 2012 book while it was in the Bay Area. We were not disappointed ~ it even had a 3D page with 3D glasses to whip out for full effect.
In tribute to her lost 2011 book, she drew inspiration page by page from her old book to create her new book. In the back of the new book, she attached a mini-zine version of her 2011 book. How about that?
She worked hard to make many copies and now you can buy both zines in her etsy shop. I always a learn a lot from Ms. Gowling!
The third book I requested was by another friend and favorite artist of mine, Juriko Kosaka. Her sketchbook documented a visit to her parents' home in Japan. Just as I expected, it was charming and delightful. Her ink drawings are simple yet detailed and she often adds just a hint of color. She's very good at conveying a mood, and it's usually a lighthearted, peaceful one.
I liked her parents' shy cat and the photos and objects in the room. I felt like I was getting to know her family, even though we've never met. Juriko is very good at composing her art to tell her story a piece at a time, until by the end of the book the whole picture has been presented. I checked out her sketchbook on last year's tour, too, and had a similar feeling of getting to peek in her world.
I love how personal the sketchbooks become as we make them and how that personal communication goes out into the world with the Sketchbook Project. So, a big "thanks!" to the fine Art House folks for making this all possible.
I hope you enjoyed this first report of my visit. Next time I will share with you some of the new art I discovered and admired on the tour. (I even met a fellow sketchbook artist, too!)
In the meantime... keep creating! ^_^