The Sketchbook Project

Hey everyone! Hope you’ve had a good week! This week I’d like to tell you all about The Sketchbook Project. Many of you may have heard of it before, since it was started almost 15 years ago. If you haven’t heard of the program, it is a great opportunity to not only view art but get your own art out there. In 2006, twenty year old Steven Peterman decided to create a small space to promote art in his community. His idea was to build a library of sketchbooks – a collection of intimate art created by every day people. Today, the Brooklyn Art Library is home to over 50,000 sketchbooks and is growing every day!

What I really appreciate about The Sketchbook Project is that it isn’t limited to professional artists. Since anyone can take part in it, anyone can be an artist. Many people use their sketchbook for fun – maybe they haven’t drawn since they were a kid and this offers them an escape. Sketching is an easy way to relieve stress and express yourself. Looking through the online database, I found a few sketchbooks that I absolutely loved!

Natasha Lee-Hazel Tucker

Natasha Lee-Hazel Tucker’s sketchbook “Women I Wish I Knew” is filled with paper collages of famous women throughout history. These women include Frida Kahlo, Stevie Nicks, and an array of authors and contemporary artists. Each portrait is accompanied by words, often describing the subject. The image on the left is of Edie Sedgwick, who was one of Andy Warhol’s “superstars.” Before seeing this, I hadn’t even heard of Edie, but now I know how she struggled with body image and eating disorders while gaining fame with her image. Women in history are often overlooked, and it is clear that Tucker felt frustrated by this. The women she including are all obviously inspirations to her. I love that she was able to create such a personal homage to those she wishes she could have met.

Reine Tejares’ sketchbook “A Conversation with My Past Self” is filled with recreations of her old drawings. Not only can you see the technical improvement in her drawing skills, you can see her improvement as a person. She notes in her sketchbook that, as a teenager, she depicted primarily white straight couples. Looking back on them, she didn’t see herself in her art because she is Filipino. Tejares used this sketchbook to diversify her old pieces. The image on the right shows the one of her old pieces compared to the update version. I think that this one best exemplifies her growth as a person.

How to Face Cancer and Life in General

The last sketchbook I’d like to talk about does not have an artist’s name associated with it. It is titled “How to Face Cancer and Life in General” and documents the artist’s emotions and thoughts as they face cancer for a second time. Some of the images they create offer advice, while others give insight into how the artist feels. Often, the images feature a simple line drawing of a face along with words. The words are written in script and go into each other, making it hard to read, which tells me that the artist’s thoughts are racing and tend to jumble up. The words in this image are hard to read, so I’ll translate them for you: “so today they cut it away and I hope it never comes back never never no more of those cells that keep growing.” The artist’s desperation is so evident here that it truly strikes you. Seeing the images in this sketchbook made me so sad, yet I feel hopeful knowing how healing art can be – especially since I’m an art therapy major. The Sketchbook Project gave this artist the means to document their feelings and try to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. I think that’s beautiful.

Looking through these sketchbooks helped me realize the multiple benefits of art. Everyone who creates art does so for a different reason, whether it’s simply because they love it or because it truly helps them. If you’re interested in participating in the project, you can buy a sketchbook here. I actually bought one today, and I’m so excited to start it! Otherwise, take a look at the online database on their website or even visit in person if you can! I’m hoping to go one day soon, but seeing them online will do for now. It’s amazing getting to see how others use their sketchbooks – you get to meet the artist through colors and lines.

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