When you see a photo of an artist's studio space, there's usually a beautiful, tattered stack of waterlogged sketchbooks on the shelf. I always assume they're filled with every genius idea the artist ever thought up, with page after page of wonder and creative brilliance-which makes me very jealous. My own sketchbook use has been sporadic, with several years skipped entirely. This is partly due to my preference for sketching assignments on loose paper, so I can keep making changes without getting attached (bound paper seems so precious). It's also because it hasn't been part of my practice or process. It's a habit I need.
I do have a couple of important sketchbooks I would save if my house were on fire (after Larry and Penny, of course). One is from my travels in Indonesia. Even though it was more than twenty years ago, when I look at one of the portraits I drew while backpacking across Bali, Jakarta and Sumatra, I'm transported to that very moment. It was a special time and a great experience, and the sketchbook is a treasure to me.
Besides being a favorite keepsake or memento, the practice of keeping a sketchbook is a way to keep your ideas alive and experiment with different mediums. In my never ending evolution as an artist, I hope my sketchbooks will help me to stay with an idea long enough to see where it can take me or allow me to see interesting themes emerge in my work. This is new territory so I'll keep you posted. After all, this is a blog.
Here's a story about the excellent Scott Bakal and his sketchbooks.