I decided not to make any general New Years Resolutions for 2016, but the coinciding of a new year with a new university semester seemed a perfect opportunity to set myself some goals on things I could improve on from last term.
One of these things is to start making time for a more frequent, immersive sketchbook experience. I am a sketchbook hoarder; I collect Moleskins and various beautiful sketchbooks which often lie around, get used for a couple of things and then get forgotten about. I've never been very big into sketchbooks - I think the monotonous process of filling pages for GCSE and A Level art coursework drummed the love of it out of me.
What I'm only just coming to realise, now that I'm surrounded by other students who use a sketchbook religiously alongside making finished works, is that working smaller doesn't have to be restrictive or precious. It can give a freedom to the painting that doesn't arise when making pieces that are working towards being 'finished' works. It can allow me to play with line, mark-making, experiment with colour and document ideas in a visual way.
I think I always thought sketchbook work was a waste of time, a laborious process before reaching a 'final piece', as it definitely was in my art education experience prior to University. If nobody was going to see it, or view the work made as a finished piece of art, what was the point? I see it in a different way now. It's an aid, an outlet for creativity, an art form in itself.
Although it'll take a lot of time to become completely comfortable working in a sketchbook, starting to work smaller and immersing myself in the process a bit more has been incredibly revealing. I have begun re-purposing old materials, map paper cuttings, tracing paper, discarded pieces of masking tape and selected parts of failed paintings into collages.
The first few collages made in my sketchbook have been promising. I'm enjoying working on something so different and it's refreshing to make some smaller, more minimalistic work. The collages still resonate with my running obsessions of memory and the places we call home. They evoke imagery that arises from memories of motorway travel, the roads that connect one place to another and glimpses of Cornish architecture. I'm intrigued to see where this different approach to working in a sketchbook will take me.