Threads of Meaning 2019

Session 3 Option 2

Sketchbooks and the Practice


I am offering two exercise possibilities for Option 2.  It is based on how I work in my sketchbooks. Here is a probably-too-long explanation.


I have always worked in sketchbooks and journals.  They began as simple, mostly plain paper 9 x 12 commercial hard-cover drawing pads, some with spiral binding.  When I traveled, I found myself buying all versions and sizes of blank white pages.  I either had a need to sketch or paint on the spot, or just fell in love with a unique size of a page or cover.  I also received elegant sketchbooks as gifts that were so pretty, I didn’t dare to use them.


I have also been making books for as long as I’ve been making art.  These books tell specific stories, but it wasn’t until after I took a workshop with Sandra Brownlee. She encouraged (really required) that the sketchbook/journals that the students brought be covered in something that would invite touch. Something that would inevitably be treasured. The precious became everyday useable, the gift books got painted in, and my inclination to gather and recycle became a driving force for creating books from odd papers, old books, and brown paper bags. 


Now I keep one plain sketchbook as running collection for jots.  Ideas, diagrams, patterns. The current one is covered in denim with a splash of Japanese IKAT.  (Older ones have been given covers over time.)   I keep smaller books for my ‘Commonplace’ quote collection, and as handy travel size for lists, book titles, dreams, recipes, poems I write. 

All covered, all with post-it bookmarks so I can find things at a later date.


Currently, I have three or four books for mixed-media intuitive drawing and collaging.  

The purpose for these is to do a kind of slow stitching without the needle and thread.  I use mediums and paints and glue and fabric and found objects and a pen, or pencil.  I use inks, stamping, contact printing.  These books get fat.  The pages must be weighted open so the materials can dry.  I don’t move on as a rule, until I have resolved what might be a mess into something ‘presentable’. I treat each page and idea as I would a larger piece of artwork.


I’ve surprised myself with the results.  Persistence truly reveals creative solutions.


a. Using a word or quote as a starting point, doodle in pen or pencil, until the page is covered, and the composition is resolved.


b. Draw Circles (inspired by Kaz Tanahashi) in all shapes and sizes, using a variety of materials until the page is covered, and the composition is resolved.

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Threads of Meaning, Meditative Stitching, Art Practice, Art Process, Color Theory, Individual Online Instruction, Online Workshop, Textile Art,  Contemporary Embroidery