Friday, August 23, 2013

Another kind of journey

Kristin here. I spent a good portion of July and August on the road, traveling to see family in Oregon, and then in Connecticut, then spending the weekend at a resort with friends, plus playing tour guide in our hometown with visiting family and friends. Do you think I brought along my sketchbook to record my inspirations or activities? Nope. Totally forgot.

I do use my sketchbook to record another kind of journey though. For many, many years, I have used my primary sketchbook as a working journal. It's not pretty (far from it), but my collection spanning about a decade has been an invaluable tool in my art making. The following are sketches and final art from my "Army Wife" series of textile narratives.

Mostly, I write my thoughts so I can go back later and harvest the ideas. The two sketchbooks above show the nascent ideas for what eventually became "War Sucks." If I remember correctly, the first idea was written down almost a year before the next sketch and the finished quilt.

I'll write down my ideas and often a sketch that is really the stick figure version of what I have in mind, but it's usually enough to let me know if I am moving in the right direction, or enough to jog my memory if I return to the idea weeks, months, or maybe even a year later.

The sketchbook is where I work out dimensions and technical aspects too. I devoted many pages to trying to figure out how to knit the "Unraveling" apron.

The sketch above led to the full sized drawing underneath it, which led to the thread drawn apron below:

The second sketchbook photo above shows the beginnings of an idea with stars and stripes. I tried out a color idea in the sketchbook below (along with two other ideas that have become finished pieces).

The pillar became stone:

The last two sketchbooks have ideas for medallions which became bed-sized quilts. 

Usually I don't spend too much time fussing over the details in my working journals/sketchbook since the colors and scale of the fabrics I use change so much from paper sketch to actual cloth, but I've tried of late to blend the two a bit more. While the idea I was working out on the colorful page didn't really work, I liked the stenciled stars and suggestion of etherealness, which eventually became this:

I would be lost without my sketchbooks to hold the ideas that constantly well up, without someplace to note that idea for a technique or to jot down an inspiration. The sketchbook can, of course, be an end in itself, but it can also be just one step in the journey.


  1. treasures each one, I find that they are useful to look back in as well, some of my best work is in my working sketchbook, sometimes never to be duplicated, right along side the scribbles and ideas from everyday things, your work is so beautiful, you have so much talent, thank you for sharing this with us,

  2. i use my sketchbooks in a very similar way. whenever i feel out of sorts for ideas, i flip through them and find something inspiring to work on.

  3. That sketchbook is like a peek inside your brain! Doesn't matter if it is pretty or makes sense to anyone else, it is a great diary of your artistic journey and the skeleton of your wonderful work.

  4. Kristin, as a retired Army wife and art quilter, I so want to see your exhibit. Can you send me information about where to see it. Thanks.

    1. Please check my website, under exhibitions, or my blog, for dates, times, and location of my Army Wife exhibit.

  5. My sketchbooks are quite similar, perhaps even less detail.. I tried the more intense sketchbook approach and quickly lost interest.. Love seeing your sketches!


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