Jane Davies here, introducing you to Carissa Kreuger, an enormously prolific and creative artist who uses sketchbooks every day.
Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?
The truth is that I can't help myself. I work in them most days. The days I don't are rare. Another "why" is that so much happens in a day that somehow it becomes more concrete/part of my reality if I stop to make note of it in some form.
Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once?
Any sketchbook I have is being used. I do not keep things in any type of chronological order. I also use lots of single sheets of paper which I do bundle up & date when a stack gets tall enough.
Do you differentiate between a sketchbook and an art journal?
Yep, art journals seem like a written diary with images added. Sketchbooks are more general & can be anything. An art journal is a type of sketchbook but not all sketchbook's are art journals.
How do you use your sketchbook? For example, do you use it to make studies for larger pieces, for experimenting with materials, to practice drawing, or for making beautiful pages as artworks in themselves?
Really they are mostly for visual &/or idea note keeping. If I hear a phrase or smell a smell or see something that resonates I try to record it. I have no conscious intentions to make a sketchbook page a piece of art. After reading this question I paged through some of my sketchbooks & found that some pages could be considered "pieces". Also, each book itself is a "work"...I had never thought of it like that before. My main intention for using sketchbooks is to keep track of the myriad things that I notice or feel compelled to record. I also use them to practice specific techniques (with notes) & to generally experiment with a medium, technique, or idea.
What's your preferred format (sketchbook size, type of paper, single sheet, spiral bound etc?) and preferred medium for using in your sketchbook? watercolor, pen, pencil, crayon, collage etc?
My sketchbooks are full of anything & everything. Fabric, image transfer experiments, phrase/word jots, collage, paint...any media that seems right. My general tendency is to work on many things at once so that almost anything is "in process". It's pretty rare that I finish a page in one sitting. My most preferred format is loose sheets of hot press Fabriano watercolor paper & BFK Rives printmaking paper that I tear down to either 8"x11" or 9"x12" sheets. Since taking Jane Davies' Text & Image class I have ordered some of the Urtchrecht printmaking paper that she prefers. I have never bound any of these papers into a sketchbook but am planning to in the coming year with the help of Jane's books.
My preferred mediums are any variety of acrylics, collage, graphite, charcoal, water-soluble crayons, and recently, artist grade tube watercolor.
How is your sketchbook different from your art-that-is-not-in-the-sketchbook? Is there anything about working in your sketchbook that is different from working on pieces that are not in your sketchbook?
Sketchbooks are serious & not serious. They are a serious endeavor because it's where I learn the most but I do not take them seriously in the sense that I let all my expectations go & just make stuff in them. "Real" artworks are generally something that have been building for awhile & have a reason for being made. The reasons can be anything from needing to make a gift for someone to bringing an idea or technique to some sort of resolution point-a BIG idea or something along those lines. These pieces tend to also be literally large in format compared to sketchbook pieces.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?
What I remind myself of regularly is to drop the notions of purpose & progress. There doesn't have to be any reason or any perfected end in sight. Just make stuff because you want to & have the luxury of doing so. Also, notice what interests or repulses you and make a note of it. Look at those things with your eyes & mind & try to understand what compels or repels you about it & than use that thing in as many ways as you can until you are tired, bored, or just done with it. Make 5 or 500 variations of this thing & you will be on the way to finding what is meaningful for you. You can only make someone else's art for so long before getting bored. Have the courage and fortitude to follow your own nature. Wherever that may take you & you will have a lifetime of creative enjoyment & significance.