I don't know why; but for some reason I seem to be really sensitive to each individual sketchbook. I don't know how to describe it any other way, but... every sketchbook I have seems to have it's own personality. And draws from me different drawings.
Maybe it is the weight and the tooth of the paper, maybe it is the shape of the book... but every sketchbook is a teacher in it's own right. On a technical level, because the weight and tooth of the paper changes: certain mediums can be made more or less effective. Portrait or landscape owe themselves very naturally to different types of page layouts and compositions. And hell, whether the book is portrait or landscape makes me look for different types of people. It's hard to make someone reeaaaaallly tall in a landscape book without flipping the book so you're drawing portrait. It's simple mechanics, really.
Some books tell me they want me to draw in ballpoint. Some want me to draw in Col-Erase. Some want brushpens. Some want me to clean up drawings. Some even want me to treat every page as a finished drawing. Hell, even two books of the exact same manufacture end up asking for completely different things from me. It's odd; I'm odd, I guess.
I don't know what it is, but when I try and dictate my growth in one direction... sometimes a book will tell me that it won't have it and send me in a completely different direction, or simply send me packing. Sometimes a sketchbook is like a really nice riddle and it will only nudge you in different directions until by the final page you know how the book wants you to draw in it.
Having a sketchbook like that is like having a fantastic, meandering conversation. My previous sketchbook was like that. There was no real unifying mode of drawing. The closest I got to unity in there was the few pages of hand drawings interspersed throughout. It was a fun, if tiring sketchbook. It really put me through my paces, taught me a fine bit of humility. And I came out the other side feeling as if I've made a friend; and this is with an inanimate object.
My new sketchbook is a sketchbook I had from the beginning of my second year at Seneca, if I recall correctly. I was obsessed with two things at that time: Brushpens with real bristles, and beautiful sketchbooks that were works of art by their own right. Funny thing was, I had just finished a sketchbook with a brushpen and given it to my friend Dee. So I could use a brushpen effectively. I knew how I wanted my new book to look. I had every bit of the book planned out in my head... and barely 16 pages in; the sketchbook told me to sit down, shut up and that I should just stop right there. So I tried again... approaching with humility but still with a purpose of how I wanted the book to look. And still, the book wouldn't let me draw with it. "I won't have any of that nonsense," is really what it said to me. I mean, externally the book is beautiful. It flaunts a kind of quality. It feels like a thing of refinement and luxury. But it was looking down at me all this time; telling me to stop being vain. Stop being so selfish about us. Stop treating the book like an object; a means to an end. And, simply, treat it like a friend.
So... after a few hiccoughs to begin with I am beginning a new adventure. A new series of conversations with what I hope to be a very good friend. And so far, we've only had a few disagreements here or there about politics or sports teams, or whatever. But we are finally getting along.
So, I guess the lot of you now know how weird I truly am. But, if I can give advice to anyone about drawing in a sketchbook... it would be to start listening to it. Just a little bit, for me. You may be surprised about the conversations you can have with it.
Or maybe I'm just a little nutso.