Did You Forget Your Sketchbook?! (And What To Do When You Do)

7:13 AM

Cutlery Bag I Drew On
Ink and Watercolor
Chris and I went to St. Petersburg a few weekends ago to visit a favorite bookstore, Haslam's, eat lunch at one of Florida's fun and kitschy restaurants, Fourth Street Shrimp Store and to look for a new freezer to replace the one that died a month ago.

It wasn't too long after we sat down at the Shrimp Store that I realized I had left my sketchbook on the table next to the couch where I'd been working in it the night before.

Fourth Street Shrimp Store is full of fun wall art, license plates, and lots of old antiques. LOTS of Florida kitsch! There's even some ancient taxidermy sprinkled here and there. It's not a good place to go without a sketchbook in hand.

I immediately started looking for another piece of paper to sketch on—in my purse and on the table. I was even eyeing the waitress' order book.

My eye happened to land on the little bag the restaurant used for the cutlery and I pounced on it. My concern was that it might be covered with a waxy coating, but it wasn't. I was back in business!

Spotting an old paddle that seemed to be the perfect subject matter for my long, narrow bag, I got down to sketching. However, lunch came before I put down very much info, so I put the little bag away to finish it later.

Turns out later was several days later and the paper bag had gotten quite beat up and folded tumbling around in my purse.

I added the logo and shrimp before I added watercolor to the paper. I really wasn't sure how it would take paint, but it worked great. If it had not, I would have used color pencils or left it as black ink.

One I was done with the artwork, I glued the end of the bag into my sketchbook and then folded the rest of the bag in an accordion fold so it would fit in the book. By seizing the bag, I was able to seize the opportunity to sketch!

What To Do When You Don't Have Access To Your Sketchbook
Don't be discouraged by the fact that you left the darn sketchbook at home or you're stuck in some long-winded meeting—where there's a will, there's a way!

Instead, look around for another piece of paper to scribble on. Don't hesitate to ask if you don't have anything useable.

In a restaurant: don't overlook placemats! They're often paper and there is seldom printing on the back. I do recommend staying away from menus unless you ask as the restaurants usually have a limited number on hand. Ask if they have a carryout menu instead.

In a meeting: scribble and draw in the margins or over any part that is irrelevant to you and what you need to know. You can always go prepared to the meeting with extra paper than can be glued into your sketchbook later. I do suggest keeping it out of sight as it can be disconcerting to others when they see you drawing over your handouts or in your day planner. I had to explain more than once that I wasn't goofing off, but actually paying attention. (I always retained more and listened better when I drew!)

Try to use permanent ink as paper that does not qualify as "sketchbook paper." Menus and receipts are usually printed on very, inexpensive paper and will not hold up under a lot of erasing or water. If the ink feathers, try using a ball point pen instead. If the paper doesn't like water at all, use colored pencils if you want to add a touch of color.
The same little bag glued down to the page in an accordion fold.
No Name/Brand Sketchbook
Consider whether or not you want to add the new piece to your sketchbook. Chances are excellent the paper is not 100% cotton rag and will begin to yellow and oxidate over time. In other words, it's not going to be archival. This may or may not affect your other pages and or sketches. It's for you to decide based on what your sketchbook's purpose is.

Sketching on unexpected and untried surfaces can be a lot of fun and lead to results you would never expect. You may decide it's more fun to sketch on "found" ephemera than in an actual sketchbook. If an experiment doesn't turn out, what have you lost? Probably not as much as you gained!

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6 Creative Thought(s)

  1. You brought to mind the most frustrating feeling I have felt in some time...forgetting a pen or pencil to draw with. It seems there is always something to draw on but if you don't have something to draw with now that can be a trial. That happened to me here lately. BAH Humbug.

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  2. Good ideas Laure, and very cute sketch.

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  3. Super idea Laure- I have been known to use white napkins or Brown when I don't have my sketch book with me. Always enjoy your tips. Have a great day.

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  4. I keep a separate box of paint and brushes in my car .... it stays there. And I have a sketchbook that is supposed to live in the car; but, of course, I bring it in every so often and so can get caught without it.

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  5. Creative and in the moment. Perfect combination! I think that bag adds some uniqueness to those pages in your book!

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  6. ...I love how you went with the flow and created this cool piece! Taping it in your sketchbook as ephemera makes it even more special. Clever girl... :-)

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