“People speak of the fear of the blank canvas as though it is a temporary hesitation, a trembling moment of self-doubt. For me it was more like being abducted from my bed by a clown, thrust into a circus arena with a wicker chair, and told to tame a pissed-off lion in front of an expectant crowd.” ~ Hannah Kent
Why buy a brand new sketchbook that took a tree to create when there are so many other books out there that no one wants?
In the USA in one year, two billion books are produced. To get the paper for these books requires consuming 32 million trees. We can estimate that one tree yields enough paper for 62.5 books.
I know that saving 1/62nd of a tree doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it does make a difference. If you have 62 artist friends that all have at least one sketchbook (and let’s face it, they probably have at least 10), together all of you would save a tree or ten from being cut down. Or six of you would save a tree. (1)
Imagine the impact if every artist did this!
Alongside being environmentally friendly, sketching in a used book eliminates the pressure of the blank page. No more scary clowns or pissed off lions.
Finding a great vintage book and drawing in it feels so subversive that it immediately lights my creative fire. Or cutting out pages or an image to reveal what is beneath is equally taboo and satisfying.
You may have to purchase this book, but in most cases, it won’t cost more than a dollar. I love to find books with maps or pictures as well as text because they add a visual impetus that always gets me into some Zen doodling. I also save receipts and odd bits of paper to use in art projects instead of buying new art papers. It is not unusual for me to stop while walking in public places to pick up a brightly colored scrap or weathered strip of paper for my collection.
I recently came across a fantastic book from the 70’s about fashion sewing with glossy photos, great patterns and far out textures, so I used that as a sketchbook. The results were fantastic. The whole project made me more adventurous because I wasn’t worried about ‘messing up’ a pristine new (and probably expensive) sketchbook.
I was able to tame the proverbial blank canvas by starting with a full one. So not only is this practice eco-friendly, it opens creative channels and allows for anxiety free artistic expression. Go get yourself a used book and have some fun!
 Tools and Ideas for Surviving (and Thriving) in Technopoly. Epublishers Weekly, September 28, 2009.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Bria Luu
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Author’s own