Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sketchbook Profile: Carol Sloan

Carol Sloan is a mixed media artist from South Carolina teaching classes both locally and nationally.

I am an artist and I live an art filled life. I love to teach others to express themselves through whatever medium we are playing with. I draw. I paint. I love textiles and layers of texture. I adore nature and all that she offers to us. If I'm not knee deep in the water, kayaking with my husband, I'll be elbow deep in paint and fiber.

Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?
I've kept a sketchbook for years now. Sometimes my sketchbook turns into a journal also as I jot down fleeting emotions or phrases that catch my attention. Like a lot of creative people, I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I have to have a method of either getting them out or documenting them in some form. So I turn to a sketchbook. I used to draw or jot ideas on single sheets of paper but I tend to misplace them...I'm not very organized you see. It's easier for me to keep up with a "book". And I take my sketchbook everywhere I go.  Everywhere.

I write/draw/jot/doodle in my sketchbook just about everyday. Sometimes I work on one page for several days and sometimes I breeze through it quickly. It's just according to what I'm doing on the page or what I'm trying to work through design wise.

Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once?
I usually have at least two sketchbooks going. I keep a standard "Moleskine" type sketchbook that I use for design issues. I often draw out detailed sketches of  potential artwork, or quick gestural sketches of a vague idea that I want to flesh out later. I also keep a handmade book (that I make) for doodle drawings or highly detailed pen and ink drawings. Sometimes I have more than that going - and some of that is based on the fact that I love books...and paper...and drawing in these books of paper.

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?
I love to work in several different types of books. I love handmade books because I can choose the type of paper myself. I like to use a paper that weighs at least 67 pounds. I've found that Bristol paper is fabulous to paint/draw/gesso/glaze and collage on. But I love using heavier paper also. I generally work in a sketchbook size or smaller. I'm used to working in a smaller format but do plan on making myself work in a larger one this coming year.

I almost always do my "doodle drawings" in pen and ink. I use graphite/lead when drawing faces or things that are really difficult (or unfamiliar) to me. I usually prefer pen and ink though. It makes you stick with your drawing and work through the "ugly" phase of it. Pencil is too easy to erase and waste those precious "happy accident" moments.

I love to add washes of color to my pages. I teach a great background painting class that I personally use the technique on the pages of my handmade books. I also add pages to premade sketchbooks. I cut out existing pages and add in my own. It's a great way to get rid of those pages that are less than, um...stellar.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?
This has been said before but it really is the best advice - just Start.
You really do have to begin somewhere. Pick up a piece of paper, a spiral notebook or a  sketchbook and just start drawing or writing. One thing I do with a new sketchbook to prevent setting myself up for failure (what I define as failure) is to skip the first page. I've found that if I feel I "messed up" that first page, I have a very hard time drawing anymore in the book.

I've been drawing and keeping a sketchbook long enough now that I just leave the "bad" drawings in. I know that there are enough "good" pages to make up for the "bad" ones. And, as a teacher, it helps my students to see that there are days that I can't draw very well either. There are times that I screw up or lose interest too. Try locating a class close to you. Or looking online for some free videos. Or joining (or starting!) a local drawing group. Urban sketching is great too.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Yes, I'd like to add that drawing is one of those things that you have to practice. A lot. I draw every single day. And if I skip a few days, I have to work harder to make up for it. Yes, there are people with natural talent but there are more people that work hard at what they do. A friend of mine told me a long time ago that if I want to make some good work, I had to make a lot of bad work.  I have made a lot of bad work...

Visit Carol's website here to see more of her work.

Get all the details on the Sketchbook Challenge here.


  1. Fabulous post!!! I love the question and answer format ! I find this very helpful! I am so pleased that you all are doing this together! I love your work Carol and someday I hope to get down to your neck of the woods to take a class with you!!!

  2. I really like the Q $ A too! Looking forward to this challenge!


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