Sketchbook Project

In college I had a wonderful professor who was continually encouraging his students to reach their full potential as artists. In addition, he was always pushing himself to create his best work (go here to see some examples). He said something to me once that’s been in the back of my mind ever since. It was a Latin phrase (nulla dies sine linea I think; I had a little help from Google translate in remembering the Latin** ) which translated means “no day without a line.” The way my professor explained it, an artist shouldn’t go a day without drawing something. As great as the idea sounded at the time, I just filed it away in the back of my mind, but I never got around to implementing it in my daily routine.

I first read about this back at the beginning of September, and I’ve mulling the idea over ever since as a way to start practicing nulla dies sine linea. Not of actually participating in the real project. No, that deadline came and went during that twilight phase following the birth of my baby when all I could do was nurse, change diapers, and feed my family (note: dishes, laundry, and daily showers did not make this list; gross, I know).

I was likewise intrigued by this:

I think it would be a great thing to jump-start me into creating consistently again, even if it was just the bare minimum drawing a day. But unfortunately, February 1st coincides with another big and rather unpleasant time commitment for me, so I don’t think I’ll be able to solidly commit to this either.

So this is my compromise:

Basically, I’m going to fill up this sketchbook with drawings. I did this sort of thing once before for a class where I filled up a Moleskine sketchbook with one theme (in that case, pencil drawings of my husband), and the final sketchbook was intended to be a self-contained piece. I kind of like the idea of keeping with one theme, but I don’t know for sure right now if that’s what I’ll do. I have 64 pages to work with, and I do want the finished product to be one cohesive piece, even if it deals with different things.

I won’t commit for sure to one page a day because I just don’t think that it will work out for me right now and I don’t want to set myself up for failure. But I will give myself a deadline: let’s say April 15 (tax day!).

Do you want to do the project with me? Let me know, and then we could do a sketchbook  share after it’s over. If you’re interested, here are some guidelines:

  • get a sketchbook, any size just so long as you can fill it up before 04.15.11
  • set a goal for what you want to accomplish with your sketchbook (whether it be a cohesive piece, or working out color studies, or drawing your baby or whatever)
  • document and share the end result

How does that sound? Not too complicated, I hope.

Okay, here’s my sketchbook I made for the purpose:


This is a soft cover Coptic bound book. Here’s the colophon with the book’s details, in case you’re interested:

(Cover: Saint-Armand handmade paper, elephant gray; text block: Fabriano Ingres)

I’ll try to put together a tutorial on how to make this next week. We’ll see if I get it done. Wish me luck!

**Edit: I did some more checking, and it turns out that Google got this ancient Latin proverb right. Go here to read more about its history and to hear how it is pronounced so you can share this wisdom with someone else.

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7 thoughts on “Sketchbook Project

  1. I love your idea. I also have a difficult time making sure I draw often. Sometimes I will paint, draw, photograph and create nonstop for a month or so, then after the frenzied production of works months go by and I haven’t created anything.

  2. Cool sketch book. I don’t think I’ll be joining the project thought, I took a stab at it around November and I think it lasted about two weeks. I’ll think about it though. Good luck!

  3. I’ll totally do it with you Rebecca! I have been working on some similar goal and am only 2 watercolors into the book (before finding out the paper–while nice–isn’t the best for watercolors). My goal…human figure studies in various media. But honestly, I would be satisfied with just filling the book. I’m planning to stick the book in my purse so I can do some while I am out and about. Do you want to have a meet up when the project is all done?

    • Glad to have you on board. It would be great to have a meet up in the end for those that are local. I won’t promise anything, but I’ll see what I can do. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Sketch Book Project I’m Starting on today… « A Big Exciting World

  5. Pingback: Tutorial: Soft Cover Coptic Sketchbook | There Is Beauty All Around

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