Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sketchbook Profile: Judi Hurwitt

Judi Hurwitt is a studio textile artist living near Houston, TX and the author of Stamp Making for Textile Artists

My work is a reflection not only of the contemporary world I see around me, but also of my upbringing by an empowered, creative mother during the struggle for women's equality in the late sixties and seventies. I strive to communicate my voice and views through the careful manipulation of texture, color, and materials in a vibrant but balanced design. My mediums of choice are varied and can include anything from fragile, hand-painted threads to metal and stone. My primary focus is on textiles and surface design.

Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it? 
For a long time, I actually resisted keeping a sketchbook. I used to find sketching and drawing very intimidating and as a result, I wasted a lot of opportunities to document my progression as an emerging artist. When I did start to journal, it was stubbornly utilitarian: record this or that technique and color palette and move on to the next page. But more and more I began to find myself doodling in the margins and finally, over time, the sketches themselves took over entire pages and my technique notes are now recorded in a separate journal. I work in one of my sketchbooks almost every day. My sketching skills are slowly improving and I will never pass up an opportunity to splash paint onto white pages.
Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once? 
I have five sketchbooks that I currently work in, depending on my mood and the task at hand. I have one specifically for recording random, original textures; another to use clippings and photographs to help me learn to recognize and draw textures and shapes; one that contains an inordinate amount of sketched disembodied lips, eyes, noses, eyebrows and chins; one that is meant for mixed-media work; and finally, one that catches my leftover paints from my palette, brushes, stamps and stencils.

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 paper… all paper. Paper will never be wasted in my studio, so sometimes when I find myself with an overflow, I bind sheets together- even if they’re different sizes and weights and materials- and presto, I have a new sketchbook. I also use a sketchbook that started life as a Dim Sum cookbook before I altered it with gesso, collage materials and fabric. My last two are commercial sketchbooks, one rigid hardbound, and one cheapie moleskine journal I picked up in an airport newsstand.

My preferred medium is whatever the paper will tolerate. If I’m working in a book that contains watercolor paper, the sky is usually the limit: paint, glue, ink, charcoal and pastels, watercolors, pencils, texture mediums, and plenty of collage materials like paper towels that were once used to mop up paint, cheesecloth I’ve dyed, or dryer sheets. Lighter weight paper I usually reserve for pencil, pastels and charcoal. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?
For your very first effort, buy a package of mechanical pencils and the cheapest journal you can find. If it’s got a stitched binding and you feel intimidated by the number of pages it contains, feel free to remove some! This is YOUR journal… it’s not a piece of fine art, it’s not meant to be, and if you start with a journal that you’ve invested very little of yourself and your money into, you may be more willing to make huge, ugly messes in it. Because I guarantee you that you MUST make huge, ugly messes- a lot of them- if you want to learn how not to.  As you gain confidence, feel free to invest more money into the types of journals you buy, alter, or bind.

Also, sketch on everything, in and out of a sketchbook. Doodle on napkins, on the grocery list, on the back of the Victoria’s Secret catalog (or on the front!) Take your sketchbook with you when you know you’re going to be sitting and waiting, like in the doctor’s office or the DMV.

Anything else you'd like to add? 
Give yourself permission to make mistakes and then to not take those mistakes personally. Not being able to draw the first time you try doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person or even a terrible artist- it just means that there’s a road out there that you haven’t traveled yet and it’s time to put your feet to it.  

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

Get all the details on the Sketchbook Challenge here.


  1. Great interview! Congratulations on taking steps toward your big goals!!

  2. Yay, Judi! Informative, motivating and 'approachable'! 8^)

  3. This is such an interesting series. I have been so indecisive about how to approach sketchbooking in a way that is comfortable for me so it's good to see that there are so many different ways. Thanks for sharing yours, Judi!


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