At the Beginning: Sketchbook One / by Ian Schmidt

While in attending school at R.I.T. I was pointed to a show that for an art student was an eye opening experience. The exhibition was not of finished works or even of any fully formulated ideas, but it was all about concepts. Artists were asked to send a page or pages from their sketchbook. The papers were put onto display in the gallery side by side and lining the wall from the back to front of the space. All were working artist and were from the Rochester area as well as from other cities, as I remember there might have been one or two from abroad as well. What struck me most about this show were the thoughts and the structure of how these individuals developed their work. Some put effort into writing and describing each piece, poems and brief notes would mark pages with a simple sketch or a detail. Others had no words simply drawings, either detailed or free hand, with both color and black and white. Some had photographs, some had images from magazines, others had plant life and textures for feeling. All spoke individually and presented this interesting conversation that the artist was having with ones self. The show made me look at how to develop better self-communication through my sketchbook, not so much a journal but rather a notebook of interests. I do from time to time put personal thoughts into my sketchbooks and express a bit of emotion in some writing in them as well. But this show is what began my prolific sketchbook collection, now some 18 or so. Each is varied and I used them as references for the direction I wish to take myself in.

A sketchbook is something I rarely go with out and I can remember sneaking a look at my fathers drawings in his sketchbooks when I was young. The drawings he did of his pieces are technically drawn and often have rough measurements. They are always done in several ways: one is a rough sketch, second is a perspective rendering, next he will do detail sections with notes on colors in the glass or surface textures. Having seen his drawings done in this way stuck with me as I began to pursue some of my own artistic ideas. Having also always been a very enthusiastic lover of the Libensky and Brychtova method of working, drawing became a means of resolving some of the feelings I wished to evoke from my work. I believe drawing must be done before producing a glass object because the material is such a demanding one that your focus must be on it and not the resolving of a design. That being said I do react to the material still and at times I adjust rough designs for and idea based on how the physical object comes out.

I will do a total of three postings with selections of drawings from some of my sketchbooks. I have a goal with this first post that is to put a selection of images up from the first sketchbook I have chosen so that some of the ideas I have are put more into context. For any maker the process is often a rewarding experience and each piece from start to finish takes a bit of guile to bring to life. For me it is as engaging mentally as it is physically and at times fully consumes my life. But it is a beautiful process and I hope this is a quick view of my hands at work in the beginning of the idea.