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Inside Out: Sketchbooks, Part 1

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There is one really nice thing about moving: as you pack your things, you get a thorough look at everything you own. You unearth things you haven't seen in months or years, and stumble across items you thought were lost a long time ago. With each little discovery, a spark of a story bursts into your head as you remember how you got the item in the first place, or the last time you used it.

Moving from Boston to San Francisco is easily the farthest, biggest move I've ever done. So I've become ruthless in examining my things. As a friend recently said to me, space is my new commodity.

I see the items in my studio differently than I see plates and cups and books. I have saved so many things to help me make things. And then I have the things I have made. I have half-finished projects. Do I keep them or throw them out? What about that roll of beautiful paper I just can't find a use for?

One treasure I was happy to stumble upon was a stack of old sketchbooks. I took a packing break and flipped through every page of them, which was like watching a home movie of my thoughts from years ago. I'm amazed at the snippets of things I wrote down and don't understand a lot of them. I'm also amazed at the range of drawing subjects and styles I found. Below are a few pages from my old sketchbooks.

I think I am most struck by the fact that I always fill my sketchbooks in the same way: I draw on the right page, usually, and leave a lot of empty space so that everything looks like it's floating. Almost nothing is grounded. There is a mix of writing, drawing from observation, and repetitive abstract shapes. Although you can't tell from these photos, none of my sketchbooks are filled up, either. Some have more blank pages than filled pages. Looking back on my sketchbooks years later, I always wonder if I should go back and use those pages, but for some reason I always end up just starting over.

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About Author

Katherine Vetne is BR&S artist in residence for July 2013.

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