Brooklyn Sketchook Project

The Brooklyn sketchbook library began in 2006 and is a not-for-profit organisation, based in the US. Their aim is to ‘encourage creative storytelling within a global community’ and currently has over 50,000 sketchbooks from artists from around the globe.

I’ve pondered over the idea of submitting a sketchbook to the Brooklyn Sketchbook library for a few years and this year I did it!

Brooklyn Sketchbook Project arrived

Since 2016, I’ve been a member of SEVEN, a sketchbook collective. We meet up every couple of weeks (currently on Zoom but usually in person), work collaboratively or individually on sketchbook projects, run workshops and have exhibited in the Leigh Art Trail. In September 2020 we decided our next sketchbook project would be to enter the Brooklyn Sketchbook project. We duly sent off our payment and received our blank 5″x7″ sketchbooks a few weeks later.

We participated in Vol. 17, which meant our deadline was 15 February 2021. Each submission comes with a new list of suggested themes, that you can use as a starting point, and I was inspired by ‘marks and markers’, which I developed using mark-making techniques.

I chose to combine my theme with reference to Warley Place in Essex, a former Edwardian garden owned by horticulturalist Miss Willmott until 1934. After her death, the house was demolished and the gardens left unattended for several decades. It has been maintained as a nature reserve, by the Essex Wildlife Trust, since the 1970s where it still provides glimpses of its former charm.

Mark-making inspired by Warley Place

When I received my blank sketchbook, I was disappointed in the quality of the paper, which I thought was too thin and wouldn’t stand up well to being painted and collaged onto. So from the start I decided that I would rebind my book using thicker paper.

The first session SEVEN did involved mark-making with inks, which gave me a good foundation to work on. Once I had a selection of inky papers I chose a few and cut them up into long strips. I then glued these strips together to form one long piece and folded it into 18 concertina pages.

NB: If you rebind your sketchbook, the only limitations to consider are that the pages must be the same size, the overall thickness of the sketchbook must be no more than 1″, and the barcode on the backcover must remain visible.

I collaged cyanotype prints, old artwork and scraps of ephemera onto the pages, which I worked into using intuitive mark-making, drawing and painting.

These are some of the finished pages I created:

Finished pages
Finished pages
Finished pages

I thought it would be difficult to send off my sketchbook once I had finished it (you do get very attached to your work!), but I think as I knew this was the outcome all along, I was happy to let it go. Before posting it to Brooklyn I did scan all my pages, so that I have a record. I have also opted for the library to digitize the pages, so they will be available to view on their website anytime.

If you fancy a challenge, I would highly recommend taking part.

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