Mark McDonnell: Why Keep a Sketchbook?

When looking to increase our skill sets, we are all in an eternal quest to "get better." There is some mystical notion that one day we will wake up and suddenly . . . be that artist we always thought we would become. But in reality most artists are all born the same. There are some of us that are born with a certain aptitude toward seeing a goal more clearly than others. But the notion of being "born with it" is very far fetched (in my opinion) and all too often idealized rather than a true reality.

What does set many of the great artists apart from the good ones? It is a great number of factors, perhaps environment, being exposed to the arts at a younger age, or perhaps an artistic family heritage. But in all cases of greatness the greatest certainty is that each master of his or her craft has devoted the time and energy toward that particular area the muse beacon's them towards. It's the muse that captures our attention. And once we are seduced by her tranquility, we are driven to follow the flow and grow along side the pencil lines we scrawl upon the page. One of the greatest ways to grow and become that artist we think we should be is a constant application into the things that we are driven to by the way of blood (our heart's pursuit), sweat, and tears (of joy, of course). We can do all of this by keeping a sketchbook. One of the greatest advantages to us is to explore and stretch the boundaries of our own craft in the privacy of our sketchbook(s). Keeping a sketchbook is an amazingly personal way, away from prying eyes, to sweat and strive to become better and grow on an individual level.

Sketchbooks are a symbol of freedom or a key to unlock a door previously unavailable to be opened.


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Dave Vasquez said...

Great post Mark! Thanks again for creating these awesome videos. They've been extremely informative and inspiring to me. In years past it's been challenging for me to maintain a sketchbook. But, since I've gotten back to doing a lot of life drawing, I find I'm using my sketchbook every day and everywhere! Not only is it the best place to practice and experiment, but I use it a lot to record some of the things I see around me. I feel like it really helps me try to see the world with a more critical eye.

Thanks again and keep up the great work!

Tom Dell'Aringa said...

Where do you buy those sketchbooks with the neutral tone paper? I've not been able to find them.

Thomas Lynch III said...

beautiful sketchbook! thanks for sharing.

Florian Satzinger said...

Wow, Mark's sketch lab! Great!

Randall Sly said...

Thanks Mark... great stuff.

Mark McDonnell said...

Thank you for the kind comment, I appreciate it. A sketchbook can be our best friend or our worst enemy . . . by choice I think. I love the fact that you can write down the date as well as the location to many of the sketches done just as you are doing - to remember or record the place and things around you. Pretty cool gift to have in our back pockets.

I purchased this sketchbook at Swain's a store in Glendale, CA. This particular sketchbook is a Cachet "earthbound" toned paper sketchbook. It's 9"x12" and is created by the company Daler and Rowney. It does have a ISBN # and it's: 1-56152-416-6. It might even be available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble too.

Thank you for the nice comment, I'll be posting more later but hopefully some more helpful posts for this particular blog.

Thanks my man . . . your work really is an inspiration.

My pleasure my man, I have learned more from other artists than anything else. I am always looking for a different way of seeing things as we get set in our ways . . . luckily Randal put this blog together. WOOOOHOOOO.

To the King,
Thanks Randall . . . more to come later but I'm looking forward to the next post so I can salivate over the talent that's here.

Best to everyone for commenting and thanks,


kingworks said...

At 32 years old, I have only very recently begun to sketch on a (semi)regular basis. Even now, I still get nervous if others are around - especially my family - who want to see what I'm doing. And I still fight that mindset of "it's not good enough to keep" or "I don't have anything interesting/amazing/unique to draw."

I know, without a doubt, this irrational fear and insecurity towards filling up sketchbooks has kept me from growing as an artist for far too long.

I'm hoping that, with each passing day, I can move past that and finally stop putting off that part of me that feels more right and real than anything else I've been doing with my life.

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