Jill Dodd Art

encaustics and felt

The Sketchbook Project


In planning our summer holiday to NYC, I Google mapped the Williamsburg neighbourhood in Brooklyn where we will be spending the week. I find it a great way to see what is really close by…like restaurants and bakeries. Oooh I do love to eat in NYC!

One place that I noticed on the map, and that is just a few blocks away from where we will be staying, is the Brooklyn Art Library. I clicked on the link and began reading about the Sketchbook Project. The Brooklyn Art Library is the storefront exhibition space which houses the project’s 30,000 + sketchbooks from over 135 countries. Anyone can participate by ordering a sketchbook and sending it back after filling its pages. In addition to housing the sketchbooks at the Brooklyn space where they become part of the permanent collection and digitizing them for their on-line library, they also get to go out on tour in their mobile library to museums and galleries across North America !  Check out this video of the mobile library.

They use the term sketchbook loosely. You don’t have to sketch. You can collage, make lists, write, tell a story, stitch, paint …however you want to create is ok by them. You can customize your sketchbook however you like..take it apart and put it back together. As long as it remains the same dimensions (5×7) and doesn’t exceed 1 inch in width, (or get covered in hazardous materials, glitter and things that will otherwise fall off and make a mess) anything goes. Your sketchbook could get checked out over and over again and you don’t want it to fall apart!

I ordered my sketchbook that day! By the next week it had arrived….tiny and empty and full of possibilities. I have until January 2015 to fill its pages and send it back to the Brooklyn Art Library.

sketchbook project

I have to admit I have never kept a sketchbook or art journal before. There is something intimidating about ruining a whole book with one page that you decide you really hate. But, tell me I can take the staples out and put back in whatever I want, leaving aside those pages I decide I have ruined beyond redemption, and I am in! Why didn’t I think of that before? I also tend to work in felt or with encaustics on nice sturdy birch panels… so paper and paint on their own are new territory. I know little of acrylic paints  and nothing of gessos and gel mediums.

I pulled my little sketchbook apart. Now a small stack of loose paper they were slightly friendlier if not downright anxious for whatever I might want to throw at them (and perfectly understanding that they may not make it back into the book itself.) I called upon my good friend and art journaler Jeni for tips and a list of her favorite tools. My first experiment left me a little frustrated  I sent her an SOS  message and a photo of my slightly wrinkly page and got the best advice…”I say embrace the wrinkles” she said. Thanks Jeni!

sketchbook 2

The Sketchbook Project gives you a list of themes to choose from (and to interpret in any way you like). I clicked on undecided when I went on the site to register my book. One theme seemed interesting to me though, and I think I will go back and select it. “Parts of the whole”  has so many possibilities. I started a parts of the whole board on my Pinterest page to keep track of inspirations.

I love organic shapes and to me they are like the beginning of everything. A part of the whole of life.  And then there are parts of speech, places on a map, parts of the body or of a personality, things under a microscope, words in a larger piece of text…the possibilities are endless!

This is an old book page with a few words selected and the rest covered over. It was fun to read the page and select some words…somewhat quickly without pausing too much to think about it.

Here is what I ended up with.

miniature conversation

of the hand

so suddenly tender

full of clouds and moons.

journal page

I have yet to finish with either of these pages and it remains to be seen if they will get stapled back in to my sketchbook…wrinkles and all.

I look forward to visiting the Brooklyn Art Library and browsing some of the sketchbooks when I am there in the summer…maybe if I finish mine in time ,I can deliver it in person.





  1. Yay! I am excited that you are doing this Jill. You inspire me!

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